What Binds Us

Title: What Binds Us
Author: Larry Benjamin
Cover Artist: n/a
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy Link Amazon:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel/60,000 words
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: A poignant, lyrical and heartbreaking story


Thomas-Edward is only a teenager when he escapes his working-class neighborhood. He’s ready for anything–except the arrival of Donovan Whyte in his life. Sophisticated and dazzlingly handsome, Dondi quickly becomes the center of Thomas-Edward’s universe, introducing him to a world full of drama, passion and feuding families.

When their relationship fizzles, they remain uneasy friends until Dondi invites Thomas-Edward to his family’s summer house. Thomas-Edward is immediately attracted to Dondi’s mysterious brother, Matthew–and finds himself hopelessly drawn to both men.

As time passes, Thomas-Edward develops a unique bond with both brothers as they orbit around each other, although he knows only one of them can be his lifelong love. Will the three of them be able to find a way to hold on to each other? Or will love, its loss and the threat of death destroy their connection once and for all?


This book certainly was not what I expected it to be. I assumed it to be a ménage between two brothers and the main character and as such, I kept passing it up for review because while I have read several books with incest, where it was necessary and integral part of the storyline, and I enjoyed those few stories, as a rule I do not look for stories with incest in it. Recently somebody whose tastes I trust recommended this book elsewhere and assured me that it was not what I assumed, so I decided to request it for review.

I am honestly of two minds about this book, and in the end I found that there were parts that I loved and a part that is totally subjective and diminished the enjoyment I had otherwise.

On the very plus side, the writing is lyrical and very beautiful without it becoming purple prose, or I guess I should say that initially I felt that Dondi’s first description was a little purplish, but then I realized that it was probably very deliberate and very necessary and in a sense reflected Dondi’s personality very well.

The story is very character centric, which worked for me. The characters drive the plot and while “life” happens, there is only one plot-based life-shattering event that happens to them and even then it is also character centric in a sense.

I also really loved how matter-of-fact Thomas-Edward’s ethnicity is mentioned and that, while of course his ethnicity is part of who he is, he is first and foremost a person who lives his life and who just happens to be black.

I thought the love story was beautiful, both Thomas-Edward’s affection for both brothers and the choosing he had to do to eventually pick one over the other. I thought his never losing the connection with the other was very lovely.

Sadly — and I cannot stress enough that this is the most subjective of the subjective dislikes — it was Thomas-Edward’s choice that somewhat decreased the enjoyment of the story for me. While the story continued to be a very beautiful and fragile connection between all three characters — it was like waves going back and forth between them — I could not get rid of an annoying nagging voice in my head: why did he chose this brother and not the other? This voice did not appear due to any misstep on author’s part. I just got too attached to a second brother, thats all, I freely admit that. The author does his job and shows it well — the feelings between the two guys are very romantic, again without going into the territory of purple prose —  but I could not help it as I realized that the real problem is that I loved the other brother’s character so very much and cried the last quarter of the story because of what happens to him. The brother whom Thomas-Edward chose was just way too perfect for my liking, even though I completely understand that he is seen through the eyes of the person for whom he is everything on this Earth.

For the literary merits of the story I would have probably given it five stars, but I found myself in such depressed mood at the end of it that I downgraded it a little bit to 4.75.




  • Oh, dear, I’m torn about this one, too, due to your reaction to the ending. I think I will put it on my list, but save it for a day I’m in the mood for something bittersweet.

    • Pea, absolutely, as I said to mrb, while it is impossible to predict whether you will be depressed at the end, I think that it is hard not to feel at least melancholic, you know? I would save it for appropriate mood.

  • “but I found myself in such depressed mood at the end of it”

    yikes, honestly there is no way I’m going to pick this one up even if the rating is so high. I don’t want to be depressed when I finish a romance book. 🙂

    • Hi mrb – you may not feel as depressed as I was at the end, if you will end up not liking the character which I loved. It was definitely an agonising procedure to grade this one lol. My first rating was four, then I decided that I am not being fair to the book. I will downgrade without problem if I can tell to myself that something is not working for me in the story or on the character, no matter how emotional such reason is – everything in the review is subjective after all, I just find some reasons more subjective than others. Here however, I could not honestly tell myself that anything was not working, only that I did not like something and I just felt I was not being fair if I will downgrade because the story went the way I did not want it to go :). So I upped it to 4.5 and then to 4.75. Here I stopped and figured that my emotional reaction at least warrants 0.25 deduction 🙂

      But yes, it is impossible to predict the reaction at the end, although to be honest even if you will not be depressed, I am not seeing how the reader cannot at least be in the melancholic mood at the end. I want to stress however, that two main characters get their happy ending, I just got too attached to the third one, thats all.

  • Hi Sirius,

    I passed this over too, for the petty reason that I found the main character’s name off-putting. Thomas-Edward, seriously? Though from your review, I’m tempted to give it a try now. Sounds like a sweet read that is all about the romance, something I could use now.

    • Hi Feliz, yes name gave me pause too :). I came back to it because of the recommendation by someone who by and large has tastes close enough to mine. It is exactly what you said – sweet read and all about romance. It is to an extent bittersweet, even though main couple gets their happy ending, but I know you love bittersweet reads even more than I do, so you will probably love it.


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