I discovered that male pregnancy romance (yes, really) was an actual thing by complete accident. I was just scrolling along through Amazon, minding my own business, when POW...male pregnancy romance. I had so many questions!! I immediately took to our Facebook page and asked my friends if this was new to them, or if I’d just been an extremely sheltered reader. But they were just as shocked as I was! And the information I found online about the subject was less than satisfying. (And in some cases, it was downright freaky and disturbing) So, seeing no alternative, I downloaded the first male pregnancy romance I found and started reading. Why? Because by this time, all of our Facebook readers had the same questions I did, and I didn’t want to leave everyone hanging. That’s right: I read male pregnancy romance for y’all. You’re welcome.
Now, let’s get down to it…
What is male pregnancy romance?
Male pregnancy romance (or “Mpreg”) is a subcategory within the romance and romantic erotica genres. Stories that fall into this subcategory take place in an alternate universe (AU) where gender roles are...untraditional, to say the least. Within a Mpreg AU, you have:
Mpreg AUs are often referred to as an “Omegaverse” because the majority of these stories are about an Alpha finding their Omega. Many “Omegaverse” stories are also about shapeshifters (i.e.: werewolves, weretigers, werebears, etc.), but the subcategory has started expanding to include non-shapeshifter “Omegaverses”.
How and when did this start?
The origins of Mpreg are a little fuzzy, but it seems to have started somewhere around 2010 as fan fiction posted on Reddit and WattPad. Lately, Mpreg authors have found their way to Amazon.
Is this a gay/transgender thing?
While it seems like most of these stories do center on a male Alpha and his male Omega mate, this is not REALLY a gay/transgender thing, because the stories are taking place in an AU where “gay” and “transgender” (as we know it) doesn’t exist. In an Mpreg AU, you love who you love and whether they are male or female doesn’t matter at all.
How does the sex work?
I’m not going to get graphic here, and (of course) positions and foreplay differ in every book, but I will tell you that for the male/male pairings, it’s anal sex.
How do the male Omegas get pregnant?
Male Omegas have wombs (no vaginas). They go into “heat” (much like dogs), which is their fertile time. They get pregnant through anal sex and can carry the baby to term (the normal 9 months) in their wombs.
But...what about delivery?
Delivery is either anal (I know...ew) or by C-section.
Do the male Omegas breast feed?
Yep. They lactate and can breast feed. (Wonder if male Omegas would get shamed for public breastfeeding like women do in our universe? Hmmm...that’s a question for the ages, isn’t it?)
So, what Mpreg romance did you read, Jennifer?
I read The Cowboy’s Baby by Giovanna Reaves. It didn’t involve shifters, just an Alpha cowboy and a male Omega who was on the run from an abusive ex. A full review is below.
Fated mates and “Knotting”
A lot of these stories, including The Cowboy’s Baby include the “fated mates” trope, which is basically just the idea that everyone has a destined soulmate out there somewhere. The Alpha will “claim” his soulmate (to whom he usually immediately feels a strong, inexplicable draw) through biting (during sex) and “knotting.” Knotting is something only an alpha can do. Knotting occurs during sex and is where the Alpha forces the base of his penis to swell (more than a typical erection), creating a “knot” of sorts that blocks the sperm from escaping the Omega’s body.This increases the Omega’s chances of getting pregnant. Knotting is something that is (typically) only done between an Alpha and his/her Omega.
First of all, I think male pregnancy, in any universe, is fantasy of the highest order. Men simply don’t have the pain threshold to withstand any form of childbirth. I base this assertion on every man I’ve ever known (including my husband and son) who seem to think they’re dying every time they have a cold. (No offense, guys)
Secondly, I’m not sure I like how effeminate the Omega males seem to be in these stories. (Based only on the research I’ve done and the one book in the subcategory I’ve read. I’m sure there are plenty of stories out there that buck this trend, but I’m just speaking about what I encountered.) It seems...stereotypical somehow. Almost like how our society—totally wrongly—assumes that every gay relationship somehow has “one that is the man and one that is the woman.” Like I said, I’m not an expert, but something about this triggered the Star Trek red alert siren in my head while reading, making me think that LGBTQ readers might be offended by some elements of these stories. I dunno. (Please, speak up and let me know if I’m wrong, LGBTQ romance readers!)
Long-story-short: I don’t think this subcategory is for me. Lately, even shapeshifter romance is a little racier than I care for. The lines between erotica and romance are more blurred than ever, and Mpreg seems to teeter precariously between the two. But, all that said, I’m glad I gave it a chance, because you just never know what your next “must read” author is going to be, amiright?
The Cowboy's Baby by Giovanna Reaves
I’m happy to say that by the 50% mark, I was able to put my hand down and read like a normal person. I wasn’t scarred for life by anything I read in this book. But that’s not to say it was all that GOOD either…
Here’s what didn’t work for me…
Stereotypical hero, Kane
Kane, the Alpha in the story, was very cookie cutter. I could have plucked him out of this book and placed him in any cowboy romance on the market today and he would’ve fit right in. There was nothing terribly interesting about him. He was a big, strong, nearly monosyllabic cowboy. Yawn.
Cole, the Omega
Cole was so effeminate in his mannerisms and speech and actions that it would have taken little more than a name and pronoun change for the author to turn him into a woman in the story. If Cole was a woman, this would’ve been a super typical M/F cowboy romance. I probably would’ve liked Cole more if he didn’t reinforce the stereotypical question that old bigots always ask gay couples (i.e.: “Which one of you is the man in the relationship, and which is the woman?”). I hate that crap!
The book assumed that I knew everything about the “Omegaverse”, even though this was book 1 in the series. I understand that most Mpreg fans will probably understand the terminology, but I think authors should assume that every reader coming into their books doesn’t understand anything about the author’s “world.” It should all be explained to me as if I’m completely new to the genre/author/subcategory/series. This book made a lot of assumptions about what I know. (And it apparently assumed I was WAY more knowledge about the subject matter than I really am.)
Lots of the dialogue read like nothing real people would ever say to each other. It was pretty awkward.
Y’all know I’m not a grammar Nazi, but there’s no way this was professionally edited. There are LOTS of errors. And I’m not talking about minor stuff. For example, there was one scene where the “most sexist man in the world” walked into the room. It took me a minute to realize the author meant “sexiest”. Then it took me another minute to get past how crazy-wrong the phrase “most sexiest man” is. (*shudders*)
Kane and Cole didn’t spend much time together at all before they were “in love”. I let some of that slide since the concept of “fated mates” seems to be big in most Mpreg AUs, but I’m still not a fan of it.
Cartoony bad guy
Cole’s ex was so cartoonishly awful that it was laughable. There was absolutely no depth to his character at all. And what’s worse was that he didn’t show up until the 90% mark of the story. I assume his only purpose there at all was to force a climax into the story. That’s just lazy writing as far as I’m concerned.
So, long-story-short, this wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but it was far, far, far from the best.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
The writing itself is a little stigma-y, but I’m not sure I can call ANY Mpreg romance cliche, so I’ll let it slide without forcing it into rehab. It definitely needs Editorial Rehab, though.
Other reading suggestions
Mpreg recommendations? Sorry. I got nothin’.