Rating: 4.25 stars
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At 23, Vin leads a very steady and disciplined life. No drinking, no drugs, and total celibacy. Vin has been pining for Riley, his high school crush, since he was 16 years old. And even though he realizes Riley is straight and it is never going happen, he’d rather be alone than with anyone else.
But despite his missing love, Vin is a happy guy with a loving family, a great best friend in Patrick, and a job he really loves working as a bartender at The Square Peg. So he is totally shocked one day when, out of blue, Riley shows up at the bar. It turns out Riley saw Vin’s name in the paper when the bar was burned down and decided to look him up. Vin is blown away to be getting his fairy tale ending that he never expected: his true love not only appearing suddenly, but wanting him back. The two immediately jump into a relationship together and everything seems wonderful at first. Things aren’t always perfect, but this is Vin’s dream come true and he wants to make it work.
Patrick is Vin’s best friend and a self-described slut. He likes to party and to sleep around, loves to be glittery and sparkly and to have a good time. Patrick doesn’t believe Riley is right for Vin, but he is determined to support his best friend and do everything he can to help Vin have what he wants. Even if that means Vin is with Riley, when everything in Patrick screams that Vin really belongs with him. But regardless of what happens, Patrick is determined to turn his life around: get out of debt, stop endlessly sleeping around, and put in real effort at his job. He is willing to wait for the right guy, even if it is too late for him and Vin. When things with Riley seem to be falling apart, there may be a chance for Vin and Patrick after all. But Vin must decide if his fate lies with the man he has always wanted, or the man who has always been right in front of him.
The Broken Triangle is a sequel to the fabulous book The Square Peg, which focuses on the two owners of the bar, Ben and Shane. Vin has a prominent role in that story and Patrick is a notable side character as well. I just loved the first book and found Vin really fascinating so I was very excited for him to get his own story. The structure of this one is a bit unusual in that there is definitely a love triangle element. Over the course of the book, Vin is in a relationship with both Riley and then with Patrick (never at the same time), and things are left a little up in the air for a while as to which guy he will choose. Despite the (very misleading) cover, this is not a menage story at all, fwiw.
One thing I thought was particularly well done is that all three of these guys have great qualities as well as flaws. Vin is certainly the most fascinating to me. He is so controlled, so disciplined in everything about his life. And I loved that despite his own control, he adores Patrick even with his own lack of it, never judging him and always being a good friend. Vin’s only real outlet is through he body art – piercings and tattoos that cover his body and give him a way to express himself. I really thought he was a great character and certainly an interesting and unusual lead. I did wish the authors gave us a bit more insight into just why Vin is the type of guy who would becomes so obsessed with Riley, however. I found myself so frustrated with how naive and obsessed Vin is with this imagined love. Because despite the fact that Vin thinks his feelings for Riley over the years have been love, not a crush, clearly this is not the case. These guys never had a relationship, never even really a friendship. Riley was nice to him a few times in high school, intervening and diffusing the situation when some of Riley’s friends were being bullies. But truly, their relationship amounted to virtually nothing. And Vin hasn’t seen him in years and believes Riley to be straight in any case. He literally has no hope that anything will ever materialize with Riley. It is not like he is waiting for his lost love. So how does this regular guy, one with friends and a loving and supportive family, become a man who refuses to ever date anyone else, to tattoo Riley’s initials on his arm? I have to say this weird obsession undermined Vin a little in my eyes. To be so naive, to equate what is essentially hero worship with love. Over time things get better and Vin comes to see the difference between his fantasy world and a real life relationship, but I just wish I understood better how and why he got to that point in the first place.
I also like that there is no immediately obvious bad guy (though over the course of the story it becomes clearly apparent who the right guy is for Vin), which keeps the story interesting and not totally telegraphed in terms of the ending. Riley, for the most part, is a nice guy. He is born of privilege, used to popularity, and works for the family business where pleasing his father is very important. But it is clear that he cares about Vin and despite the fact he doesn’t always know how to act around him, he also really wants to make things work. Like with Vin, I found myself wishing for more understanding of the kind of person Riley would need to be to react as he does to Vin’s admission that he has been pining for him for years. Riley has recently come out and sort of seeks Vin out on a whim. He doesn’t see their past relationship as anything more than some guys who were casual friends in high school. Then within minutes of reconnecting, Vin discloses that not only has he been in love with Riley for years, but that he has remained celibate in allegiance to a relationship that never really existed. I was sort of fascinated about what it says about Riley that he is flattered and considers this romantic, not totally freaky and bordering on stalkerish. He is just so excited to have sex with Vin that he barely bats at eye at this shocking disclosure. I don’t think it necessarily says anything bad about Riley, just sort of interesting element of his character and I would have love to see this acknowledged a bit more.
Patrick I totally loved of course, because I adore the sweetly sparkly guys. Yes, he is a slut and sort of irresponsible, and I appreciate that the story doesn’t glamorize that. We can understand Patrick well though, and how the absolute rejection by his parents has affected his self worth, made him think he doesn’t deserve better than quicky sex and partners who don’t really care about him. But he is also sort of lazy at work, undisciplined about money, and seeking a lot of instant gratification. As I said, I loved in particular how despite Vin’s own self discipline, he never judges Patrick for his lack of it. And over the course of the story, we see Patrick grow up some, learn to get his life under control whether or not it is ultimately with Vin.
So I am not sure the ending of this is a total surprise, but I will spoiler tag the next bit in case you don’t want to know who Vin ends up with. [spoiler]I do think that it was important for Vin to spend time with Riley before falling for Patrick. He needed to get that fantasy out of his system and I don’t think things would have ever really worked with Patrick without Vin understanding the difference between an imagined romance and the real life issues that you deal with in a relationship. But I think things dragged on awfully long here with Riley. So much of the book is spent in what is increasingly clear is a dead end relationship. Then the parts with Patrick, which made the book for me, felt a little rushed. I get the need for a slow build but there was just so much lead up that I felt that it sagged the book in the middle.[/spoiler] But I will say I found the ending fabulous – hot and romantic and I was thrilled with how it all comes together.
While I didn’t love this story as much as the first book, I really enjoyed seeing Vin get his happy ending. I also loved catching back up with the gang at the bar and especially Patrick. I think this one was a little too long with too much sag in the middle. But I also think there are some really interesting characters and issues explored here that I enjoyed. And the ending was just perfect for me. So while I would definitely start with The Square Peg, I would certainly recommend this one as well.
Cover review: Ok, so this is sort of a weird one, because this cover clearly suggests a menage story, which this is not. There is never even the tiniest hint of attraction between Patrick and Riley (in fact they pretty much hate one another). It is a love triangle of sorts in that Vin is ultimately with both men at different times, but clearly not a menage and I have no idea why Loose Id would choose to market it this way. I love that we see Vin’s tattoos as they are such a big part of him. But I think overall this is just way too misleading.