Author: Kate Sherwood
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M/M contemporary romance
Length: Novel (178 pdf pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
An intelligent look at the stresses and strains of an open relationship which suffered in my opinion from unlikeable characters who lacked sexual tension.
Mark and Alistair think they’re happy with their open relationship — they can have all the anonymous sex they want, and still come home to each other for love and affection. That changes when they discover that they’ve both hooked up with the same guy, and, worse, that they’re both falling for him.
Tyler is a take-it-as-it-comes type, happy to coast through life on his good looks and charm. He doesn’t have ambitions and doesn’t make plans, but when he finds himself involved with Mark and then Alistair, he starts wishing that he could have something more long-term.
Nobody has any doubt that sex between the three of them would be fantastic, considering how hot things are when there’s only two involved. But can they make it something more? Is the threesome destined to be a scorching memory, or can they find a way to overcome their challenges and hit the trifecta?
I’ve read a couple of other Kate Sherwood m/m/m novels and found them to be well written and thoughtful studies on the dynamics between a three way relationship. Whilst that thoughtfulness was still evident in this book, I simply didn’t really like the characters or their motivations for being in a relationship with one another and as a result this book missed the mark slightly for me.
The story begins with two men who are lovers and in an open relationship. Mark is a pilot and often away from home and as such he and his partner Alistair agree that they can seek other partners for one night stands whilst Mark is away. There then comes a time when Mark is at home and Alistair is away so Mike ventures into a local gay club and picks up Tyler for sex. When Alistair returns unexpectedly to find Mark in bed with Tyler, his feelings are hurt, and things become even more awkward when Alistair meets Tyler later and begins a relationship with him during Mark’s absence.
I said in my summary that this was an intelligently written book and I’ll stand by that. The stresses and struggles that all three men go through in the book are well documented through the alternating third person points of view and so at each point in the journey of these three men the reader is aware of what they are thinking and feeling. This made the various misunderstandings which crop up during the book less annoying than it might have been because I knew why the characters were acting and behaving in that way. The story has a strong emotional content and as such I was pretty engrossed in the story. The pages turned quickly as I was interested in finding out how the men would try and work out their relationship.
Another part which worked for me was in the secondary plot between Mark and his ex-wife, Emily. At first I disliked Emily and found her hatred of Mark to be a little extreme. However, as I read on she reminded me of the sister of a friend whose husband had left her for another man and how devastated and furious she had been at the time. That link helped me to see that Emily was probably acting in a realistic manner, even if she was being awkward, difficult and downright bitchy for much of the book. The way that Emily develops towards the end of the book may have been a little sudden, but I felt it necessary for the closure needed in that part of Mark’s life.
As I said earlier, my main dislike of the book was that I found it very difficult to connect with any of the three men, especially Mark and Alistair. Tyler is too passive for my liking although generally a nice guy – too nice in fact as he is metaphorically trodden on for quite a lot of the book. I found it a little irritating that he allowed himself to be a pawn in the relationship between Mark and Alistair, but could see the necessity of that passivity for the story to work. Normally, I’m not too bothered about stories which show an element of unfaithfulness, especially if it is agreed that the relationship will be an open one. I could also accept that Mark’s frequent absences would be a strain on their sex life and therefore why they may want to look for the occasional night of sex with a stranger. What I found very difficult to understand was the way that Alistair deliberately starts more than that with Tyler. They begin to have a relationship with an emotional connection which is far removed from the original agreement between the men. This made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t like Alistair very much as a result. I also never really felt a close emotional or sexual bond between Mark and Alistair. We are told often by both characters that they love each other – Mark even left his wife and daughters to be with Alistair – and yet most of the on page sex is with Alistair and Tyler, or Mark and Tyler, and we are told time and time again how Mark and Alistair are not particularly sexually compatible because both of them are tops who don’t like to switch . As well as this, when Mark and Alistair are together they are mainly arguing or discussing Tyler. These are not the actions of two men in love, but rather those on the edge of a break-up.
All of this meant that when the time came for the three men to get together, I wasn’t convinced that Tyler wasn’t just there as a sticking plaster over the relationship between Mark and Alistair and that, ultimately, the relationship would fail. It didn’t help that the m/m/m part came almost at the end of the book and we never get to see the aftermath of the initial group sex scene. For the relationship to have been completely convincing I needed to see much further into the future than the next day.
So whilst this book was well written and went into great emotional depth with the themes of unfaithfulness and trying to find a balance in an open relationship, my uneasiness about the lack of fidelity and whether the m/m/m relationship was actually going to work meant that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I’d hoped.