Gay romance pulp? J.L. Langley pulls out all stops in her 2006 novel, Tin Star, about a stunning cowboy, a studly rancher, a vengeful father, a faithful dog, and a mystery shooting. I didn't pay a lot for this book, and you shouldn't, either.
While the sex scenes are (at times) homoerotic hardcore, the writing is right in the middle of the romance-mystery-pulp genre. I hadn't a clue, though, who the audience was for this novel. Do women really read homoerotic, hardcore romantic pulp? Or is this novel aimed at young, gay or questioning men? Of course, my big question was how Langley did her research. Perhaps she read Bob Vickery and Dale Chase.
With these questions in mind, I poked around the Internet. Unknown to me, indeed, women are writing homoerotic romantic fiction for other women. Dale Chase writes excellent porn for the guys, but I didn't know she had some sisters doing their bit for straight women. Here's a gay romance fiction blog, Friction Fiction. It's full of rugged cowboys who ride more than their horses, but has its fair share of gay werewolves(!), as well.
Back to The Tin Star, the book has too much a women's touch. The main character's name is Jamie, and his knight in shining armor is Ethan. No self-respecting Texas cowboy would traffic with either name, but I suspect a New Jersey salesgirl might. (You guess who's the top and who's the bottom; Jamie's nickname is Blue-eyes....) If you check out some of the other gay romantic fiction titles, you'll see similar problems. In The Tin Star, Jamie sometimes "peaks" rather than "comes." Now that's a queer verb! I don't think any gay male porn writer would ever peak.
One of the main themes of this novel (other than the cowboy-on-cowboy bareback riding) is the struggle for gay acceptance in a hostile society. Langley treats the issue sympathetically, but both Jamie and Ethan have great difficulty accepting their same-sex attraction. The novel initially treats homosexuality as only being acceptable within the private sphere, but as the novel progresses, Langley expands her characters' awareness and acknowledgement of their sexual lives in the public sphere, too.
I enjoyed the book. Be warned: it requires zero thinking. Its characters are an imagined gay in an imagined Texas that is at once hostile and supportive. It's a story more of events than character. The sex scenes are pretty good, drawn realistically enough so that I could figure out the positions, and hot enough that I could get caught up in my own romantic moment with myself.