The best gay romance thriller fiction books with strong plots and stronger men

Sarah Luddington Author Of Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha
By Sarah Luddington

Who am I?

This is a list for those who love a tough guy with a soft heart. If you crave a story with passion, heat, and that zing of a good thriller, then this is the list for you. I love a romance wrapped around a strong plot. I need a book to stimulate my mind and give my old heart its “Aw, shucks,” moment. I’ve been fascinated by those who serve and the long-term effects it has on mental health. These books tackle the effects of PTSD, trauma, and its consequences. I believe the romance genre, when done well, is one of the best for examining this darkness.

I wrote...

Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha

By Sarah Luddington,

Book cover of Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha

What is my book about?

Luke Sinclair, a Special Forces Operative, is finished with his career in an elite British black ops department. As tough as it had been, Luke loved his job and his partner, Sam Locke, who had once been a US Navy SEAL. Then their world fell apart.

Until their old commanding officer, Elizabeth Brant, recalls them to London. Forced together again to transport the one person able to finish breaking them. A terrorist who destroyed their lives and their love. From the deserts of Syria, the men chase a nuclear bomb and a weaponised virus through Armenia and into Russia, finding so much more than revenge on the way.

The books I picked & why

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By Tal Bauer,

Book cover of Whisper

Why this book?

This book changed my perception about what a romance book could be. I have never been so swept away by a single narrative and never been so haunted. It inspired me and broke me. The story is long and complex. It’s about a young CIA operative who joins the Agency just before 9/11 and how that one event shaped his life for years to come. It’s a fascinating fictionalised insight into LGBTQ rights in the military during this period, the horrors of the war, the consequences, the personal narratives, and the terrible implications of the wilder political landscape on those who have to fight. It’s full of love, romance, heartbreak, action, violence, torment, and ultimately, salvation. It’s the kind of book which teaches you to see the world through different lenses. One of the most extraordinary gay romance political thrillers I’ve read.

Criminal Intensions: Season One, Episode One: The Cardigans

By Cole McCade,

Book cover of Criminal Intensions: Season One, Episode One: The Cardigans

Why this book?

This is the first in a long-running series about two very different police officers in Baltimore. Cole builds two characters who are fire and ice, both wounded and broken by their pasts and unable to accept the future is anything but bleak. The investigations are fast-paced and clever, often touching on difficult subjects with a deft hand of a skilled writer. The romance is a very slow burn, but the growing attraction between these two men is worth the wait. These books are savage at times, but also lyrical and beautifully written. The characters, the city, the murders, they make everything so very real. Again, we learn what it’s like to be a gay man in a hetero-normative world and how difficult it is to succeed.

Between Ghosts

By Garrett Leigh,

Book cover of Between Ghosts

Why this book?

I stumbled over this book and soon found myself hooked. It’s a romance, yes, but the research into conflict and its effects put it up there on my list of thrillers. It’s not strictly speaking a thriller, it’s more of a military action story and romance, but the characters are wonderful. The way they react to the war zone conflict, the effect it has on the unit and the reporter embedded with them, it has a wonderful ring of truth. And that’s what I’m always looking for in a good romance, the ring of truth. You have to really feel the RPGs coming in, and Garrett does an amazing job of making you really feel it.

Locked in Silence

By Sloane Kennedy,

Book cover of Locked in Silence

Why this book?

It would be remiss of me, not to mention Sloane in my list. Hugely popular, and rightly so, Sloane chooses to tackle some difficult subjects in her books. The protagonist is often deeply traumatised and trying to unlock (no pun intended) a mystery. In the process, they fall in love. In this book, Nolan’s career is being destroyed and Dallas’s entire life is ripped apart by the lies of those who should have cared. They are well-written, fast-paced romances. I like them because, again, you have the sense that the characters face events we face and have to make decisions we make. Yes, the men are usually big and beautiful, but it’s romance, that’s its job, but there’s something special about these romantic thrillers that means I remember the stories and the characters, sometimes wondering how they’re getting on—always a good sign for a good book.

Nova Praetorian

By N.R. Walker,

Book cover of Nova Praetorian

Why this book?

I love a well-written historical thriller with a flair for romance and this one is great. I know how hard it is to write a good historical thriller. I’ve done many for the medieval period, but this one specialises in the Roman period. A notoriously difficult period to write about for fiction. I couldn’t find anything wrong in there. The dynamic between the protagonists is very well handled and the action is superb. The politics and thriller aspects are deftly handled, never bogging down the action. Thoroughly enjoyable trip to ancient Rome.

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