Exploring Limits (Exploring Limits #1)


Title: Exploring Limits (Exploring Limits #1)
Author: Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M/M contemporary romance
Length: 171 Pages
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Jonathan Braedon’s successful acting career and consideration for his young son have always kept him from acting on his attraction to men. Newly cast as King Arthur in a BBC miniseries, he manages to conceal his interest in co-stars Devon Aldridge and Kit Webster—but Kit and Devon are just as interested in him. Rather than fighting over Jonathan, the two decide to seduce him together. Jonathan might have been able to hide his attraction to Devon and Kit individually… but together, they’re too much to resist.

The three find themselves deciding what they want out of their lovemaking and their relationship, exploring options they’d never before considered or thought they’d left behind. Add a touch of kink to the mix, and Jonathan, Devon, and Kit discover that the perceived limits of the past are really just the beginning.

Exploring Limits Series

THE REVIEW

I like m/m/m books and I’ve read and really liked a number of stories by this pair of authors. It’s a shame then, that Exploring Limits was such a dull and disappointing read.

Part of my reasons why I found this a dull read was that the book is essentially page after page of sex with very little plot at all. In fact, the book follows the same pattern over and over again. The story begins with two gay English actors, Kit and Devon, admiring another actor, an American, Jonathan. They decide to club together to seduce the straight man. This proves remarkably easy and they have sex; this is followed by more sex, a misunderstanding during sex which is sorted out, then more sex; a visit to a sex shop and more sex; some inappropriate groping on set, followed by more sex; they get tested and have more sex. The end. Now, there are times when I like books with lots of sex in them but I found this book had a number of other problems which meant that the sex scenes were just not holding my interest at all.

My main problem stemmed from the way that the authors had chosen to structure their book. The story is told in the alternate viewpoints of each of the three men. The narrative switched frequently between the characters so that sometimes there was only a paragraph spent in each character’s head. I found this very irritating at first as I kept losing track of whose head I was in and had to read back over the paragraph to orientate myself. In some ways I can understand why the authors did this. After all, the main complaint about m/m/m books is that it’s difficult to get an understanding of how all the characters are feeling during a scene. Unfortunately, in the case of this book it made the narrative very choppy and stilted and meant that the writing didn’t flow very well. The authors also had a tendency to try and show the same action as seen from the point of view of each character. An example of this is from the first sex scene where the simple act of one character removing the trousers of another character is stretched out over three paragraphs and shown from three points of view. This made the action very slow moving and, at times, quite tedious to read.

Another aspect of the book which kept pulling me out of the action was that some of the sexual positions in the book were physically impossible. There were several occasions where I was brought up short because I just couldn’t picture how the scene was taking place. For example, there was one scene where one man was laid on top of another man, kissing him and the third man leaned in to give the man on the bottom a blow job. Unless the third man had a very thin head, then this just would not have been possible.  Each time this happened I was brought out of the scene as I tried to work out what was happening.  I’m the sort of reader who likes a certain amount of realism in my sex scenes and a few times I was sceptical that some of the sexual acrobatics I read in this book could ever have taken place in real life.

One final disappointment was that, because the book is so focused on sex, there was very little in terms of character development, motivation or even just basic information. I finished the book knowing almost as little about the three men as I had at the start. The men are defined only by their nationality, their vague age or their hair colour, with only the character of Kit being given any fleshing out at all, and even then it’s only slight. This led to me seeing the men in only the blandest, colourless way and as a result it made it very difficult for me to care very much about them, their situation or their relationship at all. This doesn’t mean the characters weren’t attractive or nice, they were; just that they had little or no substance to them.

If you are the sort of reader who likes a lot of sex in their m/m books and aren’t too bothered about a decent plot or character development, then this book should appeal to you. Aside from some of the physically impossible positioning that I mentioned above, the sex scenes are varied and well structured. I also got the sense that the trio were moving away from a relationship based purely on lust and starting to have an emotional connection, so there was some romantic feelings in and amongst all the sex scenes.

Overall, I’m afraid I can’t recommend this book, for all the reasons I have given in this review. I must admit that I am very disappointed as all the books and stories that I’ve read from this pair have been winners for me. Just not this one, unfortunately.

16 comments

  • Thanks for hanging in there and reading the whole thing. The blurb made it sound as though the son was going to keep the father from exploring his gay side, but then you said he easily and quite often engages in gay sex. That would have made the book a difficult read for me right from the start. No matter how much I like sex scenes.

    • Hi John
      The son is in a different country with his mother so there’s no real barrier to Jonathan exploring his sexuality with the other men at the moment. How this would change when Jonathan finishes his current acting job isn’t dealt with in this book, but may become a focus for a later book.

    • I have to admit, Larissa, that I found it hard to keep going with the book because it just wasn’t keeping my interest. If I hadn’t been reviewing it for this site, I may well have given up on it.

  • I want to know what happened to the young son who is mentioned in the first sentence of the synopsis. In the midst of all that sex, sex, and more sex, where was he? If he wasn’t in the story, why was he in the blurb?

    Also, the cover does nothing for me. Never mind that those same three bodies showed up on another cover (can’t think of the name right now) and I didn’t like them there, either. LOL

    L

    • Leslie, the son stayed in California with his mother, the actor was in the UK filming a TV show. There might have been one vague mention of his existence in the book but it had no bearing on the relationship(s). I kept waiting for it to be an issue but it wasn’t.

      • Hi Leslie
        Tam is right. There’s a very brief mention of Jonathan’s son at the beginning of the book and then he is forgotten about. I also wondered why his son had been mentioned at all in the blurb. I can only speculate that perhaps the son is going to feature more in the sequels – apparently there are going to be six books in the series.

  • Jen is being rather generous with her 2,75 Wave. I rather like the writers but this story was so wrong on many levels.
    I kept on reading hoping it would get better but it did not 🙁

    • Ditto. I thought she was being generous. I was so angry at their behaviour at one point I was this )( close to it being a DNF. I actually remember feeling my heart pounding I was so upset on the character’s behalf which I suppose shows good writing but for me, bad story. He might have forgiven them but I didn’t. I can hold a literary grudge against fictional characters with the best of them. LOL

      • Hi Tam
        I know which scene you are talking about. I found that difficult to read too and was perhaps the only part of the book I raced through in order to find out how it was going to work out.

    • Hi Ingrid
      I considered going lower with my grade but decided that the sex itself was well written (apart from some of the positioning) and someone who was looking for a hot read with lots of sex would probably like this book.

  • Jen
    >>For example, there was one scene where one man was laid on top of another man, kissing him and the third man leaned in to give the man on the bottom a blow job. Unless the third man had a very thin head, then this just would not have been possible. < < That was really funny! I can see why this book only received 2.75 stars from you. I would agree with your assessment of the story based on the review. That's the trouble with M/M/M books - if the emotional connection isn't there, all you're left with is the sex. Great review Jen.

    • Hi Wave
      You are right, for an m/m/m book to work there needs to be an emotional connection. One which was sadly lacking with this book.

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