Review: A Perfect Beginning by Caspar Graham

a perfect beginningRating: 1.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella


Brandon Miller is attracted to his boss, Jacob Connors, though he does his best to keep it under wraps. Unbeknownst to him, Jacob is also attracted to Brandon in return. Despite his love for his partner, Harold Collins, Jacob can’t help but feel drawn to Brandon. With their relationship showing cracks, Jacob and Harold decide to ask Brandon to join them as a part of their relationship. All three men find the others attractive, and they go into it wanting to have a real relationship. Things quickly escalate, their feelings growing deep. And before they know it, they’re all in love. Brandon seems to be the missing piece Jacob and Harold’s relationship needed. Now, they just need to settle into their happily ever after.

I usually like to start my reviews with all the positive things a book has to offer. Unfortunately, I can’t do that here. This book is on the shorter side and, I’m sorry to say, that was the only thing working for it. There was no sense of place, so I had absolutely no idea where this story occurred. The writing was stilted and formal, and even awkward at times. The author overuses transitions at the beginning of sentence, “however,” “moreover,” and “additionally” being the most frequent. In conversations, the contractions often disappear, giving the characters a wooden and formal sounding speech pattern that does not translate well.

Right off the bat, the book starts out with harmful stereotypes of a gossiping 40-something year old coworker, wanting to gab with the newly out at work Brandon. Because of course that’s what you do with the gay guy: talk about fashion and men. And from there, everything is downhill. The story was full of telling, no showing, and time jumps that glossed over important events and conversations. We learn everything about the characters because the author tells us. We are told that Jacob and Harold are almost violent in their lovemaking because they are constantly trying to outdo each other. With a five second conversation, they decide to bring in Brandon, whom Jacob works with and Harold has met on a couple of occasions, as if this is somehow going to fix things. Jacob and Harold have absolutely zero chemistry between them, and it gets no better when Brandon is added to the mix. The sex scenes are a laundry list of actions, without an emotion conveyed on the page. And on top of that, there are absolutely no scenes actually showing their deepening feelings.

Jacob is the one that brings up adding in someone new, and he does it by asking “What do you think about adding a third party?” When Harold immediately refuses, his possessiveness rearing (and we only know he’s possessive because we’re told, not because we’re shown), Jacob’s insistence that “maybe adding a gentler third party” to the mix is what they need to temper their combative nature. So right away, I was scratching my head at the weird phrasing. But Jacob’s logic apparently works because Harold agrees, and they launch into a sex scene between the two of them that is somewhat violent, during which they insult each other, but end up happy afterwards. I wasn’t buying it at all.

Then they take Brandon to lunch to broach the subject with him. And this is Jacob’s explanation:

“We’re both attracted to you and we feel that it’s better to negotiate starting such a relationship with someone who isn’t a complete stranger. We also think that there is a high chance of you reciprocating the feeling,” Jacob had explained while cutting into the steak in front of him.”

They are asking a man they both like to date them and this is how they do it? The lack of emotion here really threw me. But even more than that, the formal language was a complete turn off, and made it feel like a business arrangement instead of the beginning of an emotional relationship.

Then, after only a couple of dates and two sexual encounters—during the first of which Brandon says that he didn’t mean to get an erection, and the second of which is a double penetration scene where Brandon thinks “The moist squelching sound was somewhat arousing though”—Harold asks Brandon to move in. Despite the fact that I couldn’t even understand why these guys were together at all (because of the previously mentioned complete utter lack of chemistry), I was glad when Brandon said he had to think about it. Harold’s compromise is the entirely awkwardly phrased:

“Great. Can you spend the night with us? We can spend the weekend together and see how we interact when we finally live together in the same house for hours on end. Think of it as a mini trial run,” Harold pointed out logically.

Okay, finally a little sense from them, but still patently formal and awkward. The entire tone was off putting and didn’t endear me to the characters or their burgeoning relationship at all.

So basically, this book lacked chemistry, had stereotypical and one dimensional characters, and formal and awkward writing that just kept me from engaging with the story at all. I wanted to like it because the premise of an established couple bringing in a third is interesting. But a third man does not magically fix a broken relationship, and without any showing to see how these guys related to one another, I have to say give this story a complete pass.

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