The Boys Of Summer
Sean glanced at the shirtless model. Another historical romance set in the Scottish Highlands, so of course the guy had long hair, a flawless body, and improbably perfect, shining teeth. Inside the book, the hero fit every single cliché of romance writing: dark, brooding, courageous, tormented, and absolutely ferocious in bed. Sean knew that for sure, because he'd read every precious book in the series and substituted his own name for the vapid heroine's.
An excerpt from "Bark If You Like Boys" by Sam Cameron, this is one of ten short stories in "Boys of Summer," a collection of young adult gay fiction edited by Steve Berman. But in this book, you won't have to substitute your name for the heroine's, and the protagonists are not one-dimensional made for TV heartthrobs. They are very real teenage boys, ranging from 15 to 19, who are dealing with teen angst, first kisses and the honest, raw and awkward experiences that come about with new romance.
What you also won't find in this book are closeted, self-loathing young men who do not accept their sexuality. The main conflict of these stories won't be that the protagonists are gay, but it will be about their relationships, their relationships with their friends, their family and their new infatuations.
The stories take place in summer and focus on summer flings, but the collection is stronger than your typical paperback romance novella. "Summer's Last Stand" by Aimee Payne not only focuses on Corey's first kiss, but also on his strained relationship with his younger sister and her fear of him leaving her for college. "Breakwater in the Summer Dark" by L Lark focuses on a 19-year-old's first boy crush, while playing with metaphors of sea monsters and the wilderness of summer camp to explore fear and self-acceptance. "Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy" by Alex Jeffers uses the backdrop of Greek Mythology to add depth to the story arch of Luke and Levent's relationship. Not only are the storylines layered, but so are the minor characters, making their relationships to the protagonist rich and the overall backstory stronger.
In these stories, you'll find your happy endings. "Boys of Summer" made me smile, laugh involuntarily and cringe at the horribly awkward, yet realistic first kisses and displays of young love. "Boys of Summer" was a refreshing read where the boy got the boy.
Boys of Summer
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
by Steve Berman