Title: Where the Heart is
Authors: Jenny Urban and Elizabeth Silver
Publisher: Loose Id
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M/M, interracial
Length: Novella (101 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Summary Review: A different kind of romance that illustrates how tough a loving relationship can be between three people, but also how rewarding, if it works.
Jason, Steve, and Chris have seen each other through the toughest times of their lives, but when they’re snowed in together on their annual Thanksgiving ski trip, they learn that you can still have secrets even after twenty years. After Steve reveals he’s on the verge of a major decision that could break them apart, those secrets — their desires — might be the only thing that could save them.
Then a blizzard hits and snows them in, and there’s nowhere to run from the feelings they’ve been ignoring for years. None of them want to choose one and risk the other, but before the week is out, they’re going to have to find a way to make the three of them work again. If not, they’re going to lose each other after all.
Steve, Chris and Jason had been best friends for twenty years, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was Thanksgiving, and like every other year they went away on vacation for a week of total relaxation in each other’s company. This year their destination was Vail, Colorado. Jason was a detective, Steve a teacher and Chris a photographer and artist and they managed to maintain their deep friendship despite practically living in each other’s personal space and spending most of their spare time together. They had started the Thanksgiving holiday tradition after Jason’s parents were murdered in their home while he was away at college 14 years ago and Steve and Chris wanted to be there for him and be his family. After spending the holidays with Chris’s and Steve’s families two successive years they decided that the best plan was to be together, with no outsiders – the more isolated the location the better.
On the first day of their vacation this year Steve had a surprise for the other guys and it wasn’t a pleasant one. He was moving to another state. He didn’t tell them why he wanted to move so far away, and of course they were furious with him for breaking up their ‘family’, but most of all they were hurt that he wanted to leave them. If Steve left, Chris and Jason felt that it would jeopardize their relationship. This news cast a pall on the rest of the day and they were hardly civil to each other. The next morning Jason was still upset and he left early on a ski run, taking his truck and marooning Steve and Chris who had no other means of transportation. The inevitable happened and Steve and Chris had a bit of frotting and making out since there was not much else to do, but also because they felt it was time to do something about their attraction to each other which always simmered below the surface, even though Jay was not there. When Jay returned he could tell right away what they had been up to during his absence by the charged atmosphere and the big ol’ hickey on Chris’s neck. This new state of affairs had the predictable results and you could freeze in the cold air around these long time friends, which became colder when a storm later that day cut power and heat. Leaving was out of the question since there were several feet of snow on the ground. The cabin was frigid even with a small fire so obviously they had to conserve body heat and what better way to do so than to sleep together in front of the fire. 🙂
The message I took away from Where the Heart is, is that no matter how close friends are they all have secrets, some of which are so deeply buried that if revealed they could affect the very foundation of their relationship and cause cracks to appear. All of the guys loved each other in a romantic sense yet they had never shared this information for one reason, they wanted both of their friends and would never dream of choosing one over the other permanently. Also, even if Chris, Steve and Jay felt the same about each other, how likely was it that such a relationship could work? Would one person always feel like an outsider? What about making love – would they be equally sexually attractive to their partners and how would they deal with feelings of insecurity and self doubt that they might not measure up in a threesome? What about the real threat of jealousy? What if the romantic relationship didn’t work out could they still be friends?
One of the amazing thngs about this book was the selfless sharing between the guys to make sure that no one felt left out when they had sex and it was hotter because of that one element as well as the fact that they loved each other so much. The sex was of course sizzling not only because there were three men in the relationship, but also because Jenny Urban and Elizabeth Silver know how to make it interesting and use it to move the plot forward.
It’s difficult to imagine that this kind of relationship could work in real life, but these three guys made a believer out of me that they were going to make it. Each man was going into the relationship with his eyes wide open about the difficulties that lay ahead, because even though they practically lived together they had never actually lived in the same house, and they discussed how that could work, the melding of three such different lifestyles and personalities.
Steve, the exercise nut, was definitely the glue that bound them together. He was open and loving and had no problems showing his vulnerability, and it was this openness that I thought made their friendship so successful. Yet he was the one who caused the rift in the relationship because he knew that things could not continue the way they were and decided to make a change in his life to give himself a chance at a real family.
Chris was just as much in love with Steve and Jay, but he never made a move before to have a sexual relationship with either of them and sought relief with other men because he didn’t want just a slice but the whole cake, and if he couldn’t have both of his friends he loved them enough not to make sexual demands to satisfy his own desires. He sensed that Jay was in love with Steve and vice versa but didn’t know how they felt about him, and he didn’t say or do anything since he felt no good could come of changing the present delicate balance.
Jay was the most complex of the three friends. He was very self contained and never let his feelings show, perhaps it was part of his American Indian heritage. He was also a control freak, a character trait he couldn’t help but impose on his friends who tolerated it because they realized he felt better taking care of them, but it was Steve the smallest and youngest of the group, at 32, who brought out all of his protective instincts. However it turned out that Jay was the one who had the most sexual hangups and secrets and needed the most love.
This is the second book that I have read by these two authors and I’m impressed by how much care they take with developing their characters, showing their flaws as well as their best points. In this relationship there are three men who could not be more dissimilar as well as diverse. Steve who used a tanning bed in the fall and winter so that his very white complexion wouldn’t contrast too much with that of his best friends, one black and the other brown, was fondly referred to by them as “pasty white boy” 🙂 Although Steve was the smallest he took care of his friends in little personal ways that only he would think of. Chris and Jay were both workaholics and always needed this down time every year to regenerate their internal batteries and they complemented each other in just about every way, which was perhaps why their friendship had lasted for so long because there was no personal rivalry or power trip.
Could a relationship like this work? If you can suspend disbelief, I really think Jay, Chris and Steve will make a believer out of you. There are no bells and whistles in Where the Heart is, just three men who love each other deeply and want to make a complex and unusual relationship work for them.