The best books about gay relationships that shouldn’t work

Who am I?

For some reason, many gay men like to talk to me about what they find important. For my part, I love to listen. The subject often turns to couples they know and how they got together. The most interesting conversations center around how two unlikely men meet, fall in love, and marry. Because my first husband was a closeted gay man, I am interested in how gay men view love and how they decide whether to get married. I myself am neither gay nor male. I pass along what I’ve heard and learned in order to open readers’ hearts and minds. Peace.


I wrote...

What's in a Name?

By Pat Henshaw,

Book cover of What's in a Name?

What is my book about?

When housing prices rise, Jimmy Patterson, a San Francisco barista, moves to a small California foothills tourist town.  Once he meets the town’s rough and tumble bartender, Jimmy’s friends say even though they clicked they won’t last. For one thing, after the bartender takes care of the heartbroken barista, Jimmy doesn’t know the guy’s first name. So why try? Uh, because…sometimes, just sometimes attraction doesn’t divide, but multiplies into happily ever after.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tigers and Devils

Pat Henshaw Why did I love this book?

When my husband and I got together, everyone said it wouldn’t work.

He graduated from the University of Texas while I was from University of Nebraska. At the time the schools were rabid football rivals. Both of us were avid fans. And the year we got married, the two schools played each other for the championship.

Is it any wonder I wrote about a metro-male and a good-old-boy? Not only do I write about mismatched couples, I read about them too.

In Tigers and Devils, a top Australian football player and the head of an independent film festival are attracted to each other. You don’t have to know anything about Australian football to enjoy this book.

Kennedy’s sense of humor and the main character’s married couple friends will make you believe even if you don’t have my background and haven’t had decades with your spouse.

By Sean Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tigers and Devils as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most important things in Simon Murray's life are football, friends, and film-in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler-unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other's lives forever.Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca…


Book cover of The Blinding Light

Pat Henshaw Why did I love this book?

Without my glasses, I’m functionally blind. Without his hearing aids, my husband struggles to hear. We shouldn’t work as a couple. Or are our limitations our strengths?

In Kaye’s book, Patrick Stanford is considered by his rotating crew of housecleaners to be an unreasonable client. Until Jake Manning is hired, no one realizes that Patrick as a blind man needs his house to be kept in strict order or he harms himself just walking from room to room.

Although Patrick has a PhD while Jake has barely a high school diploma, what matters is how they understand each other’s needs and work to answer them.

(An aside: Besides, how could I pass up a book in which Pat (my name) and Jake (my husband’s name) fall in love? I couldn’t!)

By Renae Kaye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Blinding Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Imago

Pat Henshaw Why did I love this book?

My husband and I met in the newsroom at the Houston Post newspaper. On paper, I guess you could say we had the same job: writing for the newspaper.

But like Lawson Gale and Jack Brighton in this book, both of whom work to preserve the environment, our jobs weren’t the same at all. He was a political reporter while I was an arts reviewer. We have completely different passions.

When lepidopterist Lawson travels to Tasmania to find and protect an endangered butterfly, he’s escorted by Parks and Wildlife officer Jack and his Border collie. I’ll admit I wasn’t very excited to read this book, but did because a friend said it was “good”.

Since I have almost no interest in endangered butterflies and environmental problems, I was hoping for “goodish mediocre”. What I got was brilliance. The book is funny, suspenseful, playful, and romantic.

The bottom line is even if you’re skeptical about insects and hiking through rough terrain, give yourself a chance to be enthralled and delighted by something outside your comfort zone on the surface, but at its core is the same cuddly romance you love.

By N. R. Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nerdy, introverted genius lepidopterist, Lawson Gale, is an expert on butterflies. He finds himself in a small town in Tasmania on a quest from an old professor to find an elusive species that may or may not even exist.
Local Parks and Wildlife officer, Jack Brighton, is an ordinary guy who loves his life in the sleepy town of Scottsdale. Along with his Border collie dog, Rosemary, his job, and good friends, he has enough to keep from being lonely.
But then he meets Lawson, and he knows he's met someone special. There's more to catching butterflies, Jack realises. Sometimes…


Book cover of Muscling Through

Pat Henshaw Why did I love this book?

Okay, okay, shoot me. I’m kind of breaking the rules here. Other than the fact that this is one of my go-to books when I’m overwhelmed or too tired to sleep or, you know, needing relaxation and a laugh, this has nothing to do with my life with Jake.

In fact, the story is about two absolutely opposite men getting together, which at least meets the qualifications of this list. And it is, like the books above, one I’ve read over and over again. It also resonates through my life as a college-level English composition instructor.

Cambridge academic Larry Morton would be the last person you’d think would fall in love with big, burly former boxer Al Fletcher. Although Al has a flair for art, he’s uneducated as opposed to Larry’s degree.

The story, told from Al’s point of view, makes a case that education levels aren’t an unsurmountable barrier for a couple. So many other factors make or break the bond.

At times poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny, and always gentle and optimistic, Al’s outlook on life charms and romances a skeptical Larry to create a believable happily ever after.

By JL Merrow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Muscling Through as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bigger they come, the harder they fall ... in love.

Cambridge academic Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed -- literally and figuratively. Next morning, he can’t rest until he’s apologised to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s…


Book cover of Big Love

Pat Henshaw Why did I love this book?

This book resonates with me for a lot of reasons. The first is that I was married to a gay man before I met my current husband. Friends said his being gay would break us up, and they were right.

One of the protagonists in Reed’s book is a gay man married to a woman. So I was anxious to see what Reed, a gay man who was once also married to a woman, would do with this.

Secondly, I taught in a community college where many of my students had dropped out of school because they’d been bullied like one of the key characters in this book. One of the first essays the first year students were asked to write was a self-examination.

Many of the formerly bullied students wrote about how traumatic high school had been and how they felt unlovable because of it. My first published books were written to make readers understand that there is someone out there who will love them. Reed does this beautifully in Big Love.

By Rick R. Reed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life - he's gay.

But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship, but when he spies Dane on his first…


You might also like...

Dancing in the Ring

By Susan Sage,

Book cover of Dancing in the Ring

Susan Sage Author Of Dancing in the Ring

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Influencer Activist Crazy cat lady

Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Detroit in the 1920s proved to be the Paris of the West for many – including Catherine McIntosh and Robert Sage. Both law school students, they are as ardent about each other as they are about their career dreams.

From a poor family in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown, Catherine learns early on, the necessity of being resilient. Bob, the ‘battling barrister,’ boxes in order to pay for law school. Despite his tough-boy personality, Bob was a friend to all: judges, cops, as well as a few members of the notorious Purple Gang. He was immediately smitten with Kate, one of Detroit’s first women attorneys. They became legendary in legal circles for their commitment to social justice causes – as well as notorious in the local speakeasies.

Dancing in the Ring

By Susan Sage,

What is this book about?

Detroit in the 1920s proved to be the Paris of the West for many-including Catherine McIntosh and Robert Sage. These two law school students are as passionate about each other as they are their dreams.

From a poor family in the neighborhood of Corktown, Catherine learned early on, the necessity of being resilient. She becomes one of the first women in Detroit to obtain a law degree. Bob, the 'battling barrister, ' boxes in order to pay for law school. Despite his gruff and tough-boy personality, he is a friend to all: judges, cops, and even a couple members of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gay topics and characters, butterflies, and soccer?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about gay topics and characters, butterflies, and soccer.

Gay Topics And Characters Explore 144 books about gay topics and characters
Butterflies Explore 34 books about butterflies
Soccer Explore 61 books about soccer