My friend Malanie @ Malanie Loves Fiction shared this Holiday Drinks book tag on her blog, which sounded quite appealing and delicious. (Thank you for tagging us, Malanie!) This is the first time I’m doing a book tag too. In fact, I will answer these questions using only LGBTQ+ romances! Admittedly, this won’t be much of a challenge, since I’ve read close to 200 queer or trans romances by now, most of which are novels, and a few of which are novellas or short stories.
Now, here are the drinks and their corresponding questions:
1. Hot Chocolate: Marshmallows, chocolate, and whipped cream, oh my! Recommend a book that’s sweet through and through
To be honest, there are too many books I can think of that fit this description, and I’m a sucker for fluffy sweet books. To this day, I still don’t understand why some readers despise fluff. But it’s like how some folks don’t like comedy, I suppose.
One sweet and lovely book is The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen. This is a YA contemporary romance between a gay trans boy and a cis male love interest. As I am a gay transmasc person who adores LGBTQ+ romances, it’s self-explanatory why I would recommend this book.
The trans boy, initially named Treasa, didn’t know that he’s actually a guy inside. Many moments in the book were too relatable for me as a trans person. It was adorable as well that Treasa kept doing experiments to see if he has psychic powers, since he always feels like an alien. (I apologize for using his dead name here, but I can’t use his chosen name without spoiling the plot.) It’s quite interesting too that the cis guy he’s in love with, Gabriel, was in such denial about his sexual orientation, thanks to his very homophobic father. So it was gladdening to me that, after discovering that Treasa is a trans guy, not a cis girl, Gabriel was still interested in being romantic partners with him.
2. Peppermint Mocha: The flavour of peppermint is strong and distinct. Recommend a book with a lot of strong emotions
Don’t most enjoyable books have tons of strong emotion?
Regardless, I recommend one of my favorite gay romances ever, Alessandra Hazard’s That Irresistible Poison.
There is so much hatred, anger, grief, pain, but also joy and tenderness in this story. What’s more, it’s set in a sci-fi universe where it’s completely normal for people to be betrothed to someone of the same gender, even for the royalties and nobilities! This is an enemies-to-lovers romance between two princes, Seyn and Ksar. Most of the main cast can even use telepathy.
The sex scenes were fabulous as well. They were filled with conflict, desperation, danger, stakes, all those things that make sex scenes feel like they matter, rather than like random scenes thrown in to stimulate readers. I happen to have fairly high expectations for sex scenes, so that’s why I’m making such a big deal out of them for this book. Alessandra Hazard writes such superb love scenes!
3. Apple Cider: It’s so good it can’t be good for you, but it’s from apples—that means it’s healthy, right? Recommend a book full of characters with questionable morals
Oh, wow. I love moral ambiguity and questionable characters.
Bait and Switch by MC Lee would be a great example.
This is the last book of a series called The Center, where the entire main cast has highly dubious morals, though most of them feel justified in what they do. There is a sweet YA romance between two boys, and because of all this moral confusion, it takes a while for Jack, the protagonist, to trust his colleague and love interest, Leo.
These kids and adults have to go on missions where they fake an identity, get emotionally close to a target, and then “extort” them, amongst other kinds of cruel operations. And for reasons that are revealed by the end of the last book, these cold-blooded missions are for the greater good. I rated the books so highly because I love reading about moral dilemmas, twisted thinking, and endless deceptions. It’s my poison.
4. Eggnog: It’s creamy and smooth, with a little spice, and some people even add alcohol to it. Recommend a book that’s mostly fun, with just a hint of danger.
Ghosted by Kay Simone
I personally thought this story was hilarious, though many other readers felt offended or just plain unimpressed. In the plot, a guy named Hunter goes on a dare with his roommates, saying that he would willingly have sex with a ghost, especially if it was a hot one. It turns out that the ghost observing Hunter and his roommates, is an exceptionally handsome guy, Stan, who died in a fire many years ago in the building where they now live.
The sex that happens between Stan and Hunter, was intriguing to me, as I have never read about a sexual encounter between a human and a ghost before! We get to read from the POVs of both Stan and Hunter, so I know that Stan has no malicious intentions. But the hint of danger lies in these questions: What happens if a ghost has sex with a human? What are the risks and consequences? As they are both cis guys, it’s unlikely that either of them will get pregnant (unless this is an mpreg romance, which I personally dig.) But would ghostly contact harm the human partner?
Alternatively, could either the ghost or human benefit from such a union? I’m not just talking about physical gains, but about emotional gains as well. How would one even have a romantic relationship with a ghost? Slight warning that this is a short story, so there may be less resolution or character development than you would want. This relative lack of depth appears to have irked many of Kay Simone’s fans, as she tends to write compact books full of complex plots and character development. I still love Ghosted, though. It’s a compelling idea and the story was really funny to me.
5. Gingerbread Latte: A drink with a veritable explosion of spices. Recommend a book with a lot of action
Stone the Crows by T.A. Moore
This is the second book in the Wolf Winter series.
Stone the Crows is so dark, bleak, and disturbing that I adore it! There’s also plenty of fighting, escaping, surviving, shapeshifting, and other action. The romance is touching too. One of the heroes, Gregor, a wolf shifter, was virtually a villain in the first book, so it was very exciting to see him with his own book. His love interest, Nick, appears to be human but isn’t really so. What’s extra awesome is that Nick is not traditionally beautiful, as he is too skinny and bony; but Gregor finds him attractive anyway.
Moreover, I love the plot twists. The whole mood of this book was fantastic: So tense, mysterious, full of danger, dread, fervent needs and desires, love, attachment, obsession, all those intense and extreme emotions that spice up a novel.
Yes, I know Christmas is already over, but this was a fun post to write and share.