Title: Rule of Thirds
Author: Aidan Wayne
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Genre(s): Scifi, M/M/M
Page Count: 166
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A traumatic past doesn’t have to mean not having a future.
When Jason Diovardi, military elite, is removed from active duty after failing too many psych evals, he has only one goal in mind: get back into the field. It’s all he knows and all he thinks he’s good for, which is why he grudgingly accepts two live-in AI Companions to help him begin to recover from his severe PTSD. Chase and Shade are a matched pair, and Jason hopes they’ll keep each other distracted enough to leave him alone so he can go through the motions and be cleared for fieldwork.
Jason doesn’t expect to actually get better, and the progress he makes with his patient and caring Companions sneaks up on him—and so do unexpected feelings between the three of them. Now Jason might even be able to admit to being happy. But has he healed enough to allow himself to accept what Chase and Shade are offering?
Hope. Love. A reason to live.
Jason’s last undercover mission went dreadfully awry and left him with physical and emotional scars. When told his job was at stake if he couldn’t get a handle on his issues with touching, inability to sleep, inability to function in public and more, he decides to enlist the aid of a AI – Acting Individuals – and hire a Companion to help him heal enough to pass his psych evals.
What we don’t find out is exactly what Jason did and for which government agency in this future society. We don’t find out why the French language is a trigger – we can infer – ¬but some elaboration on the background would have been appreciated.
I admit to not completely understanding why Shade did not get fixed/repaired. The dog modifications were forced upon him, I would think that removing the modifications or part of the modifications (such as the speech centers) would have been a given. Perhaps this was explained, and I just missed it? And I fully recognized that by keeping the impediments in, this provided a way for Shade and Jason to empathize and build a connection.
As someone who has read and watched scifi for decades, I struggled with Chase and Shade as AI’s. Yes, there was references to syncing through a link in their palms, not needing food for sustenance, fans whirring to keep them from overheating, heightened sense of hearing, and needing to recharge, but this was offset by what I felt were way too many human characteristics and human responses. The concept of “sleep” being first and foremost – Shade and Chase kept making references to needing sleep, but if you are an AI, a mechanical construct, that would be a moot point and thus the power packs. Why worry about sleep when Chase and Shade could alternate who is keeping watch on Jason and who’s recharging?
What I appreciated about this book is that this was not an “insta-fix” story, where someone has a debilitating disorder and there is only one person who can fix it (and it’s not a trained professional). Progress was slow(er) (yes, not real-time, it is a book after all). Jason had to work to heal himself. Chase and Shade provided the impetus, the nudges, and the safe environment. Since each situation with PTSD is different, I thought for this book the dynamics and pace worked well.
I also enjoyed watching Jason learn there is more to life than “the job”. How he gradually realized how much he was missing out on and that yes, he had other skillsets he could utilize.
So a rather mixed review with aspects that I struggled with and aspects I enjoyed. This is a very “slow-burn” romance, but really, quite sweet. Interesting use of Companions to help with overcoming issues, but some of the AI aspects needed to be tightened up to emphasize the science fiction side. But all in all, solidly written and engaging.