10) Men that are men. I don't mean they don't want gay men. They just don't want men who are exactly the same as female romance heroines. A man that's strong enough to cry is great. One that tears up at the drop of a lace hankie, not so much.
9) Hot sex. This might fall lower on the list that you'd think. A good story with no sex is better than a terrible story with lots of it. There's no escaping that m/m is generally a more erotic genre. It makes sense. Most of the men we know communicate far better in the physical, so we find it more believable.
8) Angst. Putting my own prejudices about angst and angst with no payoff aside, readers like angst. They want conflict, especially in m/m. They want troubles along the road to happiness. If lovers have nothing to overcome, how can they become stronger?
7) Emotional connection. This is what separates the traditional pick up story from the new m/m romance. Readers want some real emotion there, or at least the promise of it.
6) Plot. Yes, pesky as it is, people want a little plot. It doesn't have to be the next DaVinci Code, but there has to be something real going on.
5) Intensity. No one wants to read a laundry list. He did this. He went there. Readers want adventure, deep love, a sweeping style.
4) Snark. Oh, ye gentle reader. You might think we've rated this one way too high, but just like in traditional m/f romance, m/m readers love the love/hate thing. Oh yes. Yes indeed. If the heroes start out hating and end up tussling, it's a sucess
3) The Formula. Now, don't look at me like that. There's comfort in the romance formula. And m/m romance is no different. Pacing the story so there's falling in love, conflict, resolution, true love is important to the reader. so the story is at once new and familiar.
2) Characterization. Who wants a cookie cutter or a paper doll? Readers want to know what makes characters tick, what makes them who they are. Unique. Characters drive the story.
1) Happy ever after. Or at least a happy for now with the possibility of HEA. This is the single most requested and complained about factor in romance across the board. Readers want fantasy; they don't want to read about real life. If we wanted that, we'd read the news. Everyone deserves a happy ending, and m/m romance is no exception!
We'd love to hear what you'd add, or how you'd change the rankings!