Every Thursday, I use this blog to highlight a title from my list of books and stories already out there that you might have missed. This week, I'm throwing back to one of my very first HEA M/M love stories, VGL MALE SEEKS SAME. For those of you who don't know, the acronyyms stand for: happily-ever-after, male/male, and very good looking (a common abbreviation in gay personals ads). Rainbow Reviews had this to say about VGL MALE SEEKS SAME:
"5 Stars!...A phenomenal story about the search for love and the one person we can connect with in every way..."--Rainbow Reviews
Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age 42, he's still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He's tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat?
But all of that is about to change. At work, Ethan hears about a website that promises to deliver more than just the tawdry hook-ups associated with so many other sites. Ethan wants romance, and although he's always been a little shy about the whole cyber-dating scene, he figures he has nothing to lose.
Well, maybe he does have something to lose: his self-esteem. After he posts his profile, he gets zero responses. But Ethan realizes one thing about the cyberworld that isn't true in the real one: Online, Ethan can be anyone he wants to be.
And a new persona is born. The new Ethan is handsome (with someone else's pic) and the sudden recipient of dozens of online come-ons. What Ethan doesn't count on, however, is finding--among the propositions and the flattery--his one true love. Not just a gorgeous man, but one who suits him in almost every way.
How does Ethan turn his budding cyber love into a real one? And can he hang on to his mystery suitor without turning him off with his deception?
Amber Allure (on sale now for 25% off!)
...For years, Ethan had observed the hoopla surrounding the Internet and its supposed ease of getting people together for sex, romance, half price books, and even cut-rate psychotherapy, but never thought he would traverse its well-traveled highways to meet a man. Somehow, it all seemed too cheap and easy, almost tawdry. Ethan wanted to meet a man through a mutual friend, at a dinner party perhaps, where the assembled group (all attractive upwardly mobile professionals and artists) were enjoying paella and whimsical cocktails like sidecars or Tom Collins. Their eyes would meet over the olive tapenade and they would exchange phone numbers while waiting for the host to bring them their coats. Or, even better, they would meet in a bookstore (no, not that kind!) where they would both be reaching for a copy of the latest David Sedaris at the exact same moment and then would laugh and insist that the other take the shelf copy first. Or maybe he would discover his intended as he rode alone on Lake Michigan’s bike trail and his future beloved would help him when he got a flat tire. It was a story they would tell their grandchildren.
“Yeah, right.” Ethan blew out a big sigh and hit the TAB key to take him to the first box needing to be filled in. “That’s not the way it happens these days. These days, guys meet online. Period. Jane Austen would be appalled.”
Filling out the application to be a member of wingpeople.com was not all that different than filling out a job application. Ethan shook his head. That wasn’t true at all! Filling out a job application was much easier. At least a job application didn’t ask you about your most intimate physical dimensions, or if you considered yourself a top or a bottom, or “versatile.” A job application would never ask if you considered yourself to have a swimmer’s build, or if there was “more of you to love.” A job application would never ask if you “partied,” although they might test to see if you did, if they became serious about hiring you. Filling out paperwork for a job would never require you to tell, in great detail, what you were looking for in a potential mate.
But Ethan supposed all this information, all this nosy prying, was for a good purpose, which was to match you up with other like-minded souls. And Ethan actually adored the idea of that. He was not one of these middle-aged men he saw wandering around Halsted Street dressed in head-to-toe Abercrombie and Fitch, hoping to find a “boy” of no more than thirty years or so.
Ethan wanted a companion, someone he could relate to, someone with a bit of a shared history. He wondered if this route could ever deliver such a bird.
He wondered if such a bird even existed, or if it had gone the way of the dodo.
Finally, Ethan got through the laborious screens of questions and was ready to hit “submit.” He was even pleased with the photo of himself he had decided on using, dredged up from some of his event publicity files from his work folder. In the photo, taken just a few months ago, he was shown smiling with the director of the latest offering at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. He had simply cropped out the grinning, bespectled director and voila, he had himself a halfway-decent headshot. At least the picture was honest and, in its way, flattering. He hoped at least one or two men out there in cyberland would be inclined to agree.
He hit “submit,” wondering as he did if the obvious sexual connotations of the word had occurred to anyone else.
As soon as a “thank you” message popped up, telling Ethan his message was in the queue awaiting approval (which would take eight to twelve hours), sweat began to pop up on his brow. “Good Lord,” he wondered aloud, “what did I just do?”
He thought of the poor folks whose forays into dating sites and social networks like MySpace or Friendster ended up on Dr. Phil, or worse, Judge Judy, and the woe those people experienced when they exposed their more intimate sides to the world. They were idiots, as Judy and Phil would say, with no more sense than God gave a grasshopper. His little adventure could end up coming back to haunt him. What, for example, would Bubbles have to say about his profile once it was approved and active? Would he snicker behind manicured nails and call over the entire office to gape and guffaw at his photo and his predilection for forties noir classics? And that kind of information was the least of his worries—he had divulged to the entire world his sexual likes and dislikes, for cryin’ out loud.
He got up and got a Coke Zero and tried to reassure himself by saying that he was just flattering himself. Everyone was online these days and the truth was no one would really even care about him or his little profile. All he needed to really worry about was that some imagined man out there, reasonably good looking, well-read, and with a quirky sense of humor, would pause long enough at his profile to send him a message...