a book i want

A couple of weeks ago, Kassa asked her followers ‘what kind of book are you craving that you can’t find?‘ and I was reminded of this when Orannia posted about reader’s expectations and the personal experiences that we bring to bear on certain works.

Recently, when I was at my absolutely lowest due to my depression and chronic illness, I was aching for a romance – preferably m/m as is my wont *g* – that featured a protagonist with such issues, primarily with mental illness.

See, I’m a pretty tough chick so can cope with my physical problem most of the time; however, my mental condition… well, it just majorly kicks my arse.

At times like this, I’m not interested in non- or literary fiction which, IMO, are likely to make me feel even worse.

I want romance.

I want the fantasy that there are people who are feeling as shitty as me out there in the world who can find love and happiness.

Yeah, it might be that I’m deluding myself. But, quite frankly, who gives a fuck as long as I can loose myself for a couple of hours and feel a little better afterwards, if only for a short while.

So, where are the romance stories like this?

These are a few of the m/m authors and books which I’ve either read or heard about that deal with mental illness in some way, shape or form:

~ ePistols at Dawn by Z. A. Maxfield

~ The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

~ A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan

~ Lord and Master duology by Jules Jones

~ Men of Smithfield: In and Out by L B Gregg (out in May, read about it here)

~ There’s a sixth one that’s a novella where the main character (I vaguely recall him being a musician??) is agoraphobic, but I can’t for the life of me find it in my goodreads shelves.

Not that many, though, are there?

Do you have any recommendations for any romances on the theme of mental illness?

Also, are there any books way outside of the norm like this, which you are or have been interested in reading but couldn’t find?

Between us maybe we can inspire an author. 🙂

About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
This entry was posted in me, moody reading, serious randomness, serious shit. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to a book i want

  1. Chris says:

    Hmm. Am I remembering an m/m romance in which a character had near-crippling anxiety, or just wishing there was such a book? I'll think on that some more.

    And I can definitely relate. *hug* Hope you're doing better.

  2. Val says:

    Hi, Kris, I think the m/m book Leftovers by Treva Hart centered on a guy with severe agoraphobia. You're right, such books are rare (and I hope you're feeling better soon).

  3. Matthew says:

    I just remember A Note in the Margin. Outstanding book!

  4. Jenre says:

    I'm not sure about just a romance story, I can't think of any others that you've already mentioned. There are a few m/m mystery/romances which contain heroes with mental illness.

    In Maloney's Law by Anne Brooke, Paul Maloney suffers from a breakdown and depression.

    In The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh Lanyon, Perry is prone to depression and generally emotionally fragile. The Dark Horse by the same author also has a character, Sean, who is prone to breakdown. Also in Cards on the Table Tim has epilepsy.

    You are right, Kris, there are quite a number of books where the hero has a physical illness but not many with a illness of the mind.

  5. “Special Forces” – second and third part of that is all about one character's mental issues (PTSD). But it's a million words 🙂

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I completely understand what you mean although I am taking the opposite direction and avoiding my issues when it comes to the books I read. So no books with infidelity for me right now… instead I am re-reading my favorite books that make me smile or LOL. Mostly JL Langley and TA Chase. Reading about Sterling and Trouble makes me forget and smile..
    Thats my remedy, forgetfulness.
    Feel better and remember you're awesome!

    My veri word is 'bugginsu' what are you trying to tell me Kris? 😉

  8. Kris says:

    Chris & Val: Thanks for your thoughts. My new medication for my depression is definitely helping. My chronic thing is just… poo. *sigh*

    Chris: Let me know if you remember it. Anxiety is something I get with my depression. Not fun at all, but I'd be interested to see how it was handled in a book.

    Val: That's it! Leftovers is the novella that I couldn't remember the title of. Thanks for that. It was bugging me that I couldn't remember it, especially since these types of books as rare as hen's teeth.

  9. jitterbug says:

    No other title comes to my mind – unless maybe “By Degrees” by JB MacDonald. Tim doesn't actually have any mental illness, but his inability to touch and be touched, his incapacity to let down his defences and his need to be always absolutely in control are almost crippling – Chris, maybe this is the book you remembered..? – and accurately described.

    Maybe the subject of mental illnesses is too daunting, or maybe it's too difficult to write a good book (romance) centered around a character with diagnosed psychological condition unless you have some kind of personal experience with it, or at least without a high level of empathy and sensitivity. Just think how very wrong it all could go in a half-assed, superficial effort.

    Problems we carry within are always the most difficult to deal and live with, *hugs*.

  10. Kris says:

    Matthew: A Note in the Margin blew me away when I read it. Totally unexpected and totally amazing. Very powerful.

    Jenre: Thanks for listing those books. I've read two of Josh's books but not the others.

    “You are right, Kris, there are quite a number of books where the hero has a physical illness but not many with a illness of the mind.”

    It was very strange when I can to do the post because of how few books in this topic there seem to be, especially given how prevalent mental illness is. Yet, there are often discussions about the lack of stories with physical disabilities or certain physical characteristics. It's interesting.

  11. Kris says:

    Aleksandr: I thought you were exaggerating when you said a million words and then I saw the description on goodreads… 70 chapters?? Holy heck. That's epic.

    I have to admit that I'm not usually into military themed stories, but reading the blurb and the reviews has sold me. Wow.

    Suzi: (((HUGS))) I do avoidance very well. My usual MO is to going into total lock down and ignore the world. I'm an expert at it. Still, I want to read my happies and this case I wanted the happies that I could relate to.

    “My veri word is 'bugginsu' what are you trying to tell me Kris? ;)”

    Maybe you sense me trying to email you dirty pictures, but the evil censors there have locked me out. Bastages. *poutmope*

  12. Kris says:

    Sara: “Problems we carry within are always the most difficult to deal and live with.”

    Very wise and very true. *hugs*

    “Just think how very wrong it all could go in a half-assed, superficial effort.”

    I agree. I've been disappointed by a few of the approaches taken to dealing with depression and anxiety because they haven't come across as realistic to me based on my own experiences. Therefore, I think your point about mental illness being too daunting may be right on the mark, Sara.

  13. Loads of good thoughts your way hon…

    I haven't read this yet – but I have it on my list..

    Lisabet Sarai – Necessary Madness

    I know Nifty has a good bunch of them – I'll pop onto it sometime this comming week and see if I can remember any…


  14. Tam says:

    The only one I can think of off-hand is KC Kendricks. Arrgg. Brain stall, the reclusive older author, younger guy, lighthouse on the cover. I'm not sure he was officially agoraphobic or he just got in the habit of hiding out.

    Even though mental illness is coming out of the closet it's still not understood or accepted wildly. Everyone understands that a diabetic's body isn't working, you can see it, the blood tests prove it. There's nothing that you can show someone that “proves” you have debilitating anxiety or depression. So while books are “fantasy” I think they still reflect societal norms to a degree.

    Hope you have a better week.

  15. Kassa says:

    There are several JM Snyder shorts that deal with depression or other mental illnesses. There is Henry and Jim about dimension, Afflicted dealing with depression, and others. There's also Hayden XOXO by Chris Corkum that deals with a rock star who has depression.

    I love Note in the Margin and have read it again, just gets better on re-reading.

    A lot of Jodi Picout's novels deal with mental depression or other diseases. I'm not sure her stuff is literary fiction although it doesn't have the same uplifting message as romance *laughs* although very absorbing books (some of them).

    When at a loss, go for the cookies. Always picks me up *pats tumblr*

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Re-doing the comment because I hooped the HTML.

    Shameless Self-Promotion:
    Shell Shocked

    http://bookworld.editme.com/shellshocked (this has not only information and an order link, but review links)

    Sean has PTSD, agorophobia, brontophobia and Gabe is bipolar and a double amputee.

  18. Merwan says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Merwan says:

    Hey there! Long time no see. 🙂

    I know of a book, but I'm not sure it's the one you're looking for. It's Chemistry by Lewis DeSimone. Warning: I haven't read it yet! I've been considering getting it though. It got really good reviews, which surely count for something, right? Thing is, I'm not 100% sure it ends happily, though the reviews say it's a love story. Anyway, might be worth checking out.

    Here's the link for the Kindle edition:


  20. Sweet says:

    I will also recommend Shell Shocked. I really liked it. I crave realism in my romance and this delivered, and it still managed to bring the happy.

    I agree, with you and the others, there just aren't enough romances that deal with mental health issues out there. Maybe, with more and more people talking about it, things will change.

  21. Kris says:

    EH, thanks for your thoughts and for having a squiz to see if you can find anymore stories for me on this topic. There seem to be so few.

    Tam, ta love. 🙂 I remember that book! It was May/December + stalker, right?

    “So while books are “fantasy” I think they still reflect societal norms to a degree.”

    I think you're right. *sigh* There's still such a stigma attached to all kinds of mental illness and disability. I don't think it will ever be much of a mainstream kind of thing – no matter how many people suffer from it. *double sigh*

  22. Kris says:

    Kassa: “When at a loss, go for the cookies. Always picks me up *pats tumblr*”

    True. LOL. Tumblr will cure what ails ya. 😉

    Thanks for the recs, Kassa. I was surprised to see that I hadn't read either of the JMS' nor had I come across the Chris Corkum book. As to Jodi Picout… you trying to send me over the edge or what? 😉

    Angelia: I'm all for shameless self-promotion. *g*

    I didn't realise that Shell Shocked explored mental illness as much as you outlined. I thought it was focused more on the physical disabilities of the characters. I will be definitely checking it out. Thanks!

  23. Kris says:

    Merwan! Hey you back. 🙂

    Oh, I think I've seen Chemistry at ARe, but was always concerned that it would not end in happies – and I don;t necessarily mean a HEA, but at least a HFN.

    Tell you what… you read it first and if it upsets the hell out of you I think it might be a good idea if I gave it a miss. I think that could really work in my world. 😉

    Sweet: Thanks for adding your thoughts about Shell Shocked. I've just been to have more of a read about it on goodreads and it looks really interesting. I'm definitely going to pick it up when next I go shopping.

    “Maybe, with more and more people talking about it, things will change.”

    I hope so. This is such a small community that I think there is a definitely response by authors to perceived 'gaps' in the characters of romances. I think we're starting to see that come through more and more recently with all the I/R stories.

    I wonder sometimes if authors are scared off by the issue of realism in romance. Hmmm. It would make a good post, don't you think, and actually relates to one that I already have half written. I'll try to post something about it this week. The feedback should be interesting.

  24. jitterbug says:

    re: realism in romance – if I were a romance author I would run away screaming every time this topic is mentioned *g*. We readers are… a demanding lot.

  25. Chris says:

    Keeping Promise Rock

  26. Jitterbug,

    The comment got long enough to merit its own blog entry. You can find it here:


  27. I'm going to echo Erotic Horizon with:

    Necessary Madness

    and add

    Lilith… My post here gives snippets and links to the Necessary Madness author's blog that made me want these!

    Miranda ~ Sweet Vernal Zephyr

  28. nichem says:

    *Hugs* Glad to hear your new medication is helping.

    I read most of “Chemistry”– all but the last 3 or 4 chapters. I skimmed the end, though, and while it's not an unhappy ending, the two main characters don't end up together. It wasn't a DNF because it was bad by any means, I just never got around to picking it back up, especially since I knew the ending.

    “Body Art” by JCP is another book where one of the main characters has a mental illness. I think he had bipolar disorder, though I'm not sure it came right out and said that.

    “Comfort and Joy” by Jim Grimsley has a character with hemophilia and issues from past childhood abuse. I *flove* that book, but it's not available as an ebook. There's actually a prequel, “Winter Birds”, which deals with the main character from “C and J”'s childhood/ abuse, and gives you better understanding of the character, but it's a difficult read due to the subject matter. The character, Dan, eventually gets his HEA in “C and J”. From what I can tell, these books seem to be a bit autobiographical. Also it's not necessary to read “Winter Birds” first or at all. I read “C and J” then went back and read “Winter Birds”.

    “Whistling in the Dark” by Tamara Allen has a character with PTSD. Loved that book as well (and I'm not a fan of historicals in general).

    “Between Want and Need To” by Kris Dylan has a character with PTSD type issues from sexual abuse as a child.

    In “Take My Picture” by Giselle Ellis one of the guys is agoraphobic.

    In “Lord and Master” by Jules Jones one of the main characters has bipolar disorder.

    “Reclaiming Love” by V.L. McElfresh has a character with PTSD issues from a past abusive relationship.

    In “Snowball in Hell” by Josh Lanyon one of the characters is depressed.

    That's all I can come up with that haven't been mentioned so far. If you want something totally different, David Sedaris writes a lot of funny stuff about his tics and OCD behaviors.

  29. Chris says:

    Looks like maybe Beantown Cubans might be of interest.

    Boy Meets Boy?
    Untamed Heart by Ally Blue
    Graphic Intentions?
    It Takes a Hero by Lynn Lorenz
    Depression Interrupted by Thom Jaymes

  30. nichem says:

    Oops, I see you already have Lord and Master listed.

    I realized I've read most of the books that have been listed here and rated them all highly, so I must like this theme.

    And Josh has 4 on the list, so maybe he can be persuaded to do another.

  31. JenB says:

    Brent from Hell by Jet Mykles gets panic attacks from crowds. The condition isn't very deeply explored and it seems to magically get better when he starts boinking Hell, but it's all I can think of.

  32. Kris says:

    Sara: “We readers are… a demanding lot.”

    Oh, yeah. We're totally pains in the arses. LOL.

    Chris: Wow. You've been searching away on this topic. Thank you. There are a few, especially Graphic Intentions, that look like a story that will appeal to me.

    I'd also forgotten about Keeping Promise Rock. I really liked that because it broke stereotypes insomuch that it was the older and physically stronger of the two who was the one that suffered from depression, etc the most. It showed that physical appearances mean nothing when it comes to those with the propensity to mental illness. That's an important message.

    Angelia: I've got to get ready to go out into the country for the day soon, but will be really interested to read you post on this topic when I return.

  33. Kris says:

    Miranda: Thanks for the link to your post. For some reason I had trouble finding it yesterday when I did a search, but this gives me a better idea about what the story is about. Looks intriguing.

    Richelle: (((HUGS))) Wow. Thank you!

    “I realized I've read most of the books that have been listed here and rated them all highly, so I must like this theme.”

    LOL. You must. You've given me a lot of recs to go on. I really appreciate it. I'm sure that you've mentioned David Sedaris before. I really MUST read his work. Funny experiences with OCD are right up my alley. *g*

    JenB: I think that's part of my trouble. Some stories give hints of the condition, etc, but it's never fully explored and twu wuv seems to magically sure it. That just ends up shitting me so most of the time I just pretend that the illness was never mentioned in the first place.

  34. Chris says:

    You're welcome! Gotta do what I can to help the other part of Khris, after all. 😉

  35. Kris says:

    Yeah, I gotta get cracking on that little assimilation thing. LOL.

  36. Chris says:

    Although, sadly, it ain't gonna improve your mood any – we're full up on treatment-resistant dysthymia here. 🙂

  37. Kris says:

    Chris: “Although, sadly, it ain't gonna improve your mood any…”

    You're calling me a moody bitch, aren't you. It's scary how well you all know me. 🙂

  38. orannia says:

    I'm sorry, I can't think of any books, not in the m/m genre 😦 I just wanted to say, you're amazing – for doing all that you do. And I'm so glad the medication is working. *hugs*

    Maybe the subject of mental illnesses is too daunting, or maybe it's too difficult to write a good book (romance) centered around a character with diagnosed psychological condition unless you have some kind of personal experience with it, or at least without a high level of empathy and sensitivity. Just think how very wrong it all could go in a half-assed, superficial effort.

    I completely agree. And I love the sound of By Degrees.

  39. Kris says:

    Thanks Orannia for adding your thoughts to this issue and about me personally. 🙂

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