A guest review by Jenre
A light-hearted book about a young man who stumbles into a D/s relationship with three other men. One of my favourite comfort reads.
Brian, a young transplant to Los Angeles, frequents the leather bars where he meets Paul, a big, tattooed, Harley riding leather daddy who introduces Brian to the ways of a sub. Brian is instantly smitten, but then Paul travels out of town on business leaving Brian in the dark about the status of their relationship. Enter Jim, a big nurturing “Momma Bear” who helps Brian deal with his loneliness. Coincidentally, it turns out, Jim is also one of Paul’s roommates and then Jim goes out of town as well, leaving Brian with a key and a request to water Jim’s plants in his absence.
Brian is doing just that when the third roommate, Scott, appears, an overly friendly little baby bear who snuggles up to Brian immediately. Soon Brian and Scott are sharing a ‘friends with bennies’ type relationship.
It all comes to a head when Paul and Jim return home and surprise Scott and Brian in bed together. Now Brian has to make some hard choices.
Can Brian find a place in this unusual household? One that’s just right?
It feels a bit strange to review this book from the perspective of it being a new release, because although it was only published by Loose Id last week, I’ve owned a copy for over a year now, perhaps even as long as two years. The version I own is from the book’s previous release at a different publisher. Once the contract ran out on it, the book languished in limbo until Loose Id picked it up for publishing. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that because it’s a book that deserves some recognition. The new release has been tightened up slightly in the editing and also updated – but only with minor details such as the use of cell phones instead of house phones. Another reason I’m pleased it has been re-released is so I can recommend it again to people who like multiple partner stories and BDSM. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve re-read this book and it’s become one of my favourite comfort reads.
Those of you who have read some of A.M. Riley’s other books such as The Elegant Corpse and Death By Misadventure, need to know that this book is very different to those books which are quite serious romantic mystery dramas. In many ways Goldilocks and His Three Bears proves just how versatile an author A.M. Riley is because this shows a playful side to her writing. The story is light-hearted and fun but also contains some great characterisation and a good understanding of the emotions that come into play in a D/s relationship.
The story begins with our golden haired hero Brian who’s not long been in LA and is feeling a little overwhelmed by the city. He ventures into a leather bar because he likes his men burly, hairy and covered in tattoos, where he bumps into Paul who fits the bill exactly for Brian. After a few weeks of seeing each other, Paul has to leave for a few months on business, leaving Brian confused and hurt about where he stands with Paul. Not long after, Brian meets Jim, a huge hairy man, who takes Brian’s hurt and makes it better. When Brian discovers that Jim is Paul’s room-mate, he doesn’t quite know what to do and he’s even more confused when Jim takes off for a while and he gets to know the third room-mate in the house, Scott. It isn’t long before Scott’s affectionate nature leads them both to the bedroom. Now Brian’s really in trouble because the three room-mates are suddenly all back in the house and Brian hasn’t got a clue where he stands with any of them.
There are so many things I like about this book, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it justice in this review. The story is really one young man’s journey into the world of BDSM and that is done through his relationship with Paul, or Daddy as he calls Paul when they are in a scene. When we first meet Brian he’s not coping very well with life. He’s in a dead end job, and feeling emotionally lost. His growing feelings for Paul, the safety he brings Brian and the way Paul gently starts to bring peace, direction and purpose to Brian’s life is all intermingled with the story of how the four men work through their rather unusual polyamorous relationship. Each man has a different quality to bring to the relationship. Paul is in charge overall, but flounders a little at first with how to meet Brian’s needs. Jim is nurturing, but has the experience of BDSM life to pass onto Paul. Scott is Brian’s friend and sceptical over how Paul and Brian’s relationship is progressing. Together they work well and it helps that each of them are reasonably easy-going and “Don’t hold much with tradition”.
As you might expect there’s a lot of sex in the book. However, unlike some books this is not PWP because each sex scene is precisely placed to either show us something of character or to further the relationship between the characters in some way or to add something to the overall plot. This means there’s progression within the sex from the beginning when each character is introduced, through to the end where they’ve worked through their issues and are content with the situation they are in. I thought this was all rather cleverly done.
I fully realise that this book isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. The polyamory alone will be off-putting to many of you, even though I think it’s sensitively done and realistic. I also know that D/s books are not going to have a universal appeal, although that particular aspect is very light and not at all graphic. Plus the journey that Brian and Paul take together towards that D/s relationship is part of the appeal of the book for me. If you do like those themes, then I think you’ll love this book.
The main reason I love this book so much is that it’s a great deal of fun. There’s a sense of joy in all the characters, and fulfilment in their relationship. I liked all the characters, liked that the author set aside space for them all to develop, not just Brian, and so by the end I had a good understanding of the feelings and motivations of all the characters. The writing is just as excellent as I’ve come to expect in all A.M. Riley books. Goldilocks and His Three Bears is amusing, not in a laugh out loud way, but in a way which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and a gentle smile. It’s the sort of book which leaves me happy. That is why it’s a comfort read and why I can’t recommend it highly enough.