I read two books during the blackout. One was Salt: A World History, which was utterly fascinating. I knew that salt was important, but I didn't think about how important it is - not just for food, but for ordance and revenue and, well, everything.
The other has a similar theme. In fact, it was on my Wishlist, and my husband bought it because he thought it was yet another food book. It isn't. It's As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann. And it's...if it were fanfic, I'd say it was slash. It reads like a slash story, *not* like a lot of the gay fiction I read. The style of writing the sex scenes, the angst and transgressions, the major presence of *lube* (well, goose grease, but it does take place in the 17th Century) - it all reads like slash to me. Does anyone know if she's possibly a slasher?
If she is, I can pretty much say that the characters and plot are original - if they're not, she's done an amazing job of filing off the serial numbers. The other thing is, it's a good use of unreliable narrator. The viewpoint character, Jacob, doesn't seem quite aware of how violent he is, and he finds ways of justifying himself during and after each act. That's right - the relationship(s) in the book are dysfunctional and we are in the odd position of seeing it through the eyes of the abuser. It makes it emotionally difficult to read, but she is a good enough writer that I didn't want to put it down.
And yet, it is also a story of a forbidden (and eventually foolish) love between two men, and there are moments of tenderness and joy in the middle of wars and politics and social movements.
I highly recommend it.
I also recommend Elizabeth Lynn's Dragon's Winter, which is a well-imagined fantasy world with a m/m romance as a part of the plot, but it's not the heart of it. It's more that the villain used it to get what he wanted. There is some lovely hurt/comfort and a couple of sweet het romances as well.