Title: Stable Hill
Author: Jodi Payne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Genre(s): Gay Romance/Threesome
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Will three men from very different backgrounds find a home and a future together?
After losing his husband to cancer, Oscar Kennedy has his hands full with their four girls, the house, his job, and his mother-in-law. When he loses his father too, keeping Stable Hill, the old horse farm where he grew up, becomes impossible. Oscar hires Jeffrey Stokes, a slick-looking real estate broker with a roll-up-his-sleeves work ethic, to get it on the market.
Russell White manages the day-to-day at Stable Hill. Russ had loved Oscar’s dad like a father, and took on even more responsibility when the old man fell ill. He is shocked and saddened by Oscar’s decision to sell.
All three men have a stake in Stable Hill, and it’s not long before they start to invest in one another too. But their complicated relationship doesn’t make having to sell Stable Hill any easier. Will the fragile triad they’re building last when the farm that brought them together is gone?
Overcoming some little initial confusion, it takes a few pages until the reader knows just who is whom among the characters, and how they relate to each other. Jodi Payne provides us with a plethora of inter-involved cast members (but it’s okay: none are running for higher office!). Then the fun begins.
This story focuses on Oscar, a widowed gay man, in his mid-forties. He is busy raising his late husband’s four children (whom Oscar has adopted), and he is still suffering the loneliness of his loss. His world begins to open when he faces double romantic temptation – first from his attraction to the 24-year old manager of his late father’s horse farm, and then from a sexy, mid-thirties realtor he hires to sell that farm. Of course, this being a typical gay soap opera, the realtor and the stable manager already have a history of casual down low encounters.
Each man, begins with lust for the other two, and quickly becomes emotionally entangled.
This review is appropriately short as the story is, in the main, about the maturing relationship between these men, and particularly how it affects Oscar, his four children and the live-in mother of his late husband. The overall affectional delineation is beautifully drawn. Quite smartly, Jodi Payne makes clear that the relationship between each respective twosome is quite distinct from the others. Their sexual interactions are sufficiently detailed as to provide nice relief, though a note must be made here. If you have every watched a sexual orgy on film (tsk, tsk), and had trouble keeping up with the dynamics, it is just as difficult to follow those physical interactions of an active threesome on the page. (Marginal diagramming might help.)
Of course, the novel gives us enough “soapy” plot challenges to capture the reader’s continued attention. I think the nicest moment occurs when Oscar’s mother–in-law arranges a dinner for the entire family, lovers included. When asked if the men can kiss hello, Oscar laughs and notes: “These girls already had two dads, remember? And I’m finding that three seems to be less of a stretch than you might think.”
In Jodi Payne’s world one easily becomes three, and children adapt quickly, as the 21st century idealists among us would wish.