Title: By Any Other Name
Author: Tia Fielding
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link By Any Other Name
Genre: M/M/M contemporary romance
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
An interesting character based romance which thoroughly explores the beginnings of a m/m/m relationship, alongside themes such as healing and self-esteem.
Dru and Thom have been together for three years, and despite Thom’s occasional bouts of insecurity and Dru’s fear of rejection, their relationship is rock solid. Then Dru’s long-lost friend, Skye, suddenly reappears, shocking them both. Skye suffered years of inconceivable abuse before escaping it, and while he’s back on track, he has nowhere else to go as he begins to rebuild his life.
Dru, Thom, and Skye each want to belong somewhere, to belong with someone—or someones—with no fear of being hurt, set aside, or left behind. It’s a challenge with daunting odds, especially for Skye, who’s never loved before. He’s determined not to come between his two friends who so clearly belong together, and it will be up to Dru and Thom to conquer their fears and convince Skye to stay.
I picked up this book because I like m/m/m romance and the blurb made it sound like a solid character based read. I wasn’t disappointed in that regard.
The book begins with Dru and Thom who have been in a relationship for three years. They are very happy together and have reached that stage in the relationship where they have pretty much over come any personality clashes and have settled into an established domesticity. The love that they feel for each other is strong, and this was one of my favourite parts of the book. No matter what life throws at them during the book, they remain true to each other, discussing any problems and supporting each other through difficulties. Their comfortable life together is disrupted when they are contacted by Skye, Dru’s best friend from childhood and the person who made Dru realise he was gay. Dru was devastated when Skye was taken away by an uncle after the death of Skye’s parents, never to be heard of again, leaving Dru with severe abandonment issues. However, when Dru and Thom find out how Skye was treated by his uncle they are shocked and appalled. Skye has been in intensive therapy for two years and is ready to move on, but he has nowhere to go. Dru and Thom take Skye into their homes and lives which isn’t easy at first, but Dru and Thom soon realise they need Skye as much as he needs them.
One of the things that worked well in this book was the way that the author managed to create a study of three very different men, all of whom are flawed in some way, but still work together. Skye’s problems are the most obvious and I felt that his inability to draw close to people, the way he can’t cope with physical contact and his panic attacks were realistically shown. He’s two years on from the years of trauma he suffered but it was good that Skye wasn’t given a ‘quick fix’. Thom and Dru are more subtle in their flaws. Thom has self-esteem issues which at times make him seem needy. There were a few scenes where he’s shown to be a little bit manipulative because of this, and although this wasn’t particularly sympathetic behaviour, I could understand why he behaved as he did. As I said earlier, Dru suffers from abandonment issues and is terribly self-centred. This is one reason why he and Thom work so well as a couple. Thom wants to be needed and Dru wants the attention Thom gives him. It was rather cleverly done. You might think these flaws would make these characters unlikeable, and yes at times I didn’t like the way they behaved, but I also found that they were remarkably self-aware, so much so that they are completely upfront about their issues. This somehow made them more human to me and I warmed to all three men, even when their behaviour was less than exemplary.
Those of you looking for a book filled with m/m/m sex ought to stay clear of this book. There is some sex, mostly between Dru and Thom and one shortish scene at the end with all three men, but mainly this is a book about emotions and connections, and whilst lust and attraction plays into that, for obvious reasons the physical side of their relationship develops slowly. I liked this about the book. Having the characters fall quickly into bed would have been wrong, not only because Skye is confused about his sexuality for much of the book but also because physical contact is so hard for Skye at first.
The book is set almost entirely in the house owned by Thom and Dru, which gives the book a slightly static feel. However, I found it then more effective when Skye leaves the safety of the house. There is one other main character in the book, Kara, who is a neighbour and Dru’s good friend. I liked that she was a positive female character, but also that she herself has flaws. One of my few niggles with the book was that Dru was very upset when he learns that Kara is moving away, and yet by the end he barely acknowledges her leaving and doesn’t even bother to say goodbye.
My other complaint about the book was to do with the writing and plot construction. The writing was quite clunky at times with some bad phrasing and the rather irritating overuse of descriptors such as ‘the blond’. The book also has a bit of a saggy middle where not much happens, and yet the story fast-forwards through what could have been some interesting developments in the relationship. Instead we are told in retrospect, rather than shown, what happens. However, it seems like this is Tia Fielding’s first novel, so shouldn’t judge too harshly someone who is still learning their craft.
Despite these niggles, this was still a very good book. The characters, their flaws and the emotions in the book were genuine, and I read the book engaged with what was happening and interested to see how it would all work out. Those looking for a character based m/m/m romance will enjoy this book. I did, and I’m looking forward to further stories from this author.