Who are your favorite dudes loving other dudes? (Note: this isn’t specifically cis gay couples, but also applies to couples that include bi men, trans men, pan men, ace men, etc.)
I’m not really a romantic person, and I rarely care about ships. These are not my favorite queer male characters; some of them just happen not to be in a romantic relationship (Hexarch Shuos Mikodez from Raven Stratagem) or they are in a m/f one (Sam from When the Moon Was Ours). I don’t like how queer books are marketed based on pairings rather than the identities they represent – you do not need to be in a relationship to be queer! – and I feel like this post contributes to the erasure, so I wanted to put a disclaimer here.
Jesper and Wylan from Six of Crows
The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite YA fantasy series, and I love all the characters in it. Jesper is a Zemeni bisexual sharpshooter who has a gambling addiction, and Wylan is a dyslexic gay Kerch boy. They don’t become a couple until Crooked Kingdom, but they have some really great scenes in the first book too.
Akeha and Yongcheow from The Black Tides of Heaven
Tensorate by JY Yang is a series of novellas inspired by East and Southeast Asian mythology. The first one, The Black Tides of Heaven, follows Akeha from childhood to adulthood, and includes a m/m romance, complex family dynamics, a rebellion and magical creatures. While the time jumps prevented me from loving Akeha and Yongcheow as a couple, I still really liked their interactions.
(Edit: since The Descent of Monsters, I’ve discovered I read Akeha wrong and they’re actually non-binary, they just felt pressured to chose a binary gender by their society and felt aligned more with men than with women.)
Shuos Jedao and Rhi Teshet from Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee is a Tor.com novelette (which means: free!) set in the Ninefox Gambit universe. It follows Shuos Jedao several decades before the Hellspin Massacre. It has a lighter tone than the novels, and it can be read independently.
I can’t exactly say that Jedao and Teshet are a couple, because this is more of a hookup situation, but the flirting was great, and it was a fun read. Do you want to read about a bisexual secret agent running an undercover mission in a foreign space empire? Try this.
There is no explicit sexual content, but there are references to… questionable lube choices, which are definitely considered questionable in-text. (Let’s be real, all choices Jedao makes are questionable at best. It’s kind of a character trait.)
Ryder and Liam from Darkling by Brooklyn Ray
Darkling by Brooklyn Ray is a paranormal m/m romance. It’s queer, atmospheric and very witch-y, which I appreciated, and I loved the main couple (there are also a side m/m couple, a side f/f couple and a non-binary side character, and this is only a novella). Ryder is a trans man who is hiding many secrets, and one of them is his ability to raise the dead. Liam has been his close friend for years, and he is able to control water. Darkling is best friends to lovers and it was great, even though I usually don’t like that trope (too much miscommunication for me, but here there was almost none!)
Content warning for explicit sex scenes and blood magic.
Rufus and Mateo from They Both Die at the End
They Both Die at the End was one of my favorite books of last year, and I want to read more books by Adam Silvera now. I loved Rufus (bi, Cuban) and Mateo (gay, Puerto-Rican) both as character and as a couple, even though they got to know each other only for a few hours (this book lasts exactly one day).
What are your favorite m/m couples and male queer characters?