The 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards–or the “Lammys,” as they are affectionately known–kick off another record-breaking year with this week’s announcement of the finalists. They were chosen from a record 933 submissions (up from 818 last year) from 321 publishers. Submissions came from major mainstream publishers and from independent presses, from both long-established and new LGBTQ publishers, as well as from emerging publish-on-demand technologies.

Nearly 100 literary professionals, including booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, authors, academics and previous Lammy winners and finalists volunteered countless hours of reading, critical thinking, and invigorating discussion to select the finalists in 25 categories, including the inaugural year for Transgender Poetry.

“Being nominated for a Lammy is an outstanding achievement among such a crowded field of submissions and within an LGBTQ writing community rich with talent,” said Lambda Literary Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela.

Here are all the nominations in the 25 categories: Lambda Nominations

A few of the romances that have been nominated

Romance

Blueberry Boys, Vanessa North, Riptide Publishing

Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. His uncle’s death takes him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, yearns for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is.  With his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.

A lovely novel of quiet beauty, smouldering tenderness, in a book strewn with illustrations of blueberries.


For Real, Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission. Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable.  Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt, and what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

The writing, as always with this author, is superb. A funny, emotional and intelligent novel; author Alexis Hall includes pithy and perceptive observations on life, which almost had me gasping from the truth behind them. I have already read this twice, and I am dying to read it again. A romance that genuinely made me sob at the end.

General Misconduct, L.A. Witt, Samhain Publishing

A Conduct Unbecoming sequel

Ensign Aiden Lange is taking a hike—and it’s not for the pleasure of seeing Okinawa’s Hiji Falls. It’s in the hope that claiming he took a fall on the rocks will cover up the fact he was beaten up in a gay bar. Not a place a Naval Academy grad wants to get caught if he’s serious about his career.

At the end of the trail, a surprise comes with the scenery. A gorgeous young guy in swim trunks.

Connor didn’t come up to the falls to find a man, but he’s instantly intrigued by the ensign with the bandaged eyebrow. A hike turns into dinner, and before he knows it, he’s up to his heart in love with the gentle, infinitely patient Aiden.

It’s a small world, though, and an even smaller island. It’s only a matter of time before they’re caught by a man who’s more than just Connor’s overprotective father. He’s also Aiden’s high-ranking boss. Someone with the power to force Aiden to choose—Connor, or his naval career.

This one is not a favourite with me I’m afraid. I found it a bit formulaic, but what do I know? It has been nominated for this prestigious award.

Misfits, Garrett Leigh, Riptide Publishing

Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.

Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.

Beautifully written, this is an emotionally believable ménage romance with lots of passion and tenderness, in a good plot.

Mystery

Murder and Mayhem, Rhys Ford, Dreamspinner Press

Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner falsified evidence to entrap the jewellery thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still makes his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

A riot of imaginative serial killings, and cop / cat burglar banter with a few twists. The addition of references to The Princess Bride, and Rook’s treasures from various stalwarts of popular culture made the nerdy side of me very happy.

Sci-Fi

Sacrati, Kate Sherwood, Riptide Publishing

As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.

Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.

For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.

This is everything I want in a sci-fi and a romance. Great world building, political intrigue, passion and sacrifice with a very satisfying happy ending. Excellent read.

Have you read any of the Lambda nominees? If so, was there one you adored?

BJ Jansen

 


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