Rating: 4 stars
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Brian is now settled down with his three bears, Paul, Jim, and Scott. He is in love with Paul, his Daddy, and enjoys both his close friendship and sexual relationship with Jim and Scott. The four men have created a family together, with a deep bond and strong feelings among the four of them.
Being part of a four-person relationship isn’t always easy however, especially given Paul’s travel schedule. With Paul gone for months on end for work, Brian is very out of sorts and it is hard for Jim to keep things running smoothly without Brian’s Dom around. Scott is still getting used to his role as a sub to Jim, and even as he thrives on their domestic disclipine style relationship, part of him still rebels mentally at the idea. He has an even harder time watching Brian, whose relationship with Paul is even more hard core, and sometimes upsets Scott to witness. Finding the right balance between everyone’s needs is not always easy.
When Scott brings home a very lost young man in need of some care, things become even more upended. It is clear Joshua has a crush on Scott, and even though it is not reciprocated, it still adds tension to the already complex relationships between the men. Add one of Paul’s friends to the mix, and suddenly there are a lot more people to balance, not to mention opening their foursome relationship to the eyes of others in a way they haven’t previously experienced. There is a deep love between Goldilocks and his three bears, but the four men must work hard to meet everyone’s needs and keep their family happy and content.
A Man, a Jersey, and a Tight End is the follow up to Goldilocks and His Three Bears, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. After my first exposure to these guys, I was definitely eager to pick up this second book and see what else was in store for our foursome. While the first story had the fairy tale twist and a bit of humor, this second book has a much more traditional contemporary feel, albeit with the menage and BDSM elements added in. This story is much more focused on the dynamics of their relationship and the little family these men have built for themselves.
When reading the first book, one of my issues was lack of clarity as to the nature of the relationship between these four men. We know that Paul and Brian are a couple, and that Jim and Scott are a couple. And that Brian sleeps with both Jim and Scott (individually and together) and there are various other sexual combinations at different times. I felt somewhat confused as to the emotional side of things between the non-partnered men, however. One thing I really enjoyed here is that this issue pretty much felt irrelevant to me at this point. It is so clear how much these four men love and care for one another. Whether it is romantic love or friend love, there is no doubt about the strength of the feelings they all have for one another. I really found it heartwarming to see how they lean on each other, how they have really built something totally nontraditional but that really works for them. Yes, sex is still a major part of this story, and they have a lot of it in a wide variety of combinations. But Riley really manages to show the love here as well, and I found it very heartwarming to see them settled and happy.
One of the conflicts in this story is the introduction of Joshua and Freddie to the dynamic. Joshua is a young man Scott meets while working. He is totally lost, stuck in a horrible home life, and Scott takes him under his wing. Joshua is incredibly timid and sort of bewildered by this family who takes him in. Freddie is a friend of Paul’s who also ends up living with him for a time. So there is a decent sized subplot focused both on the impact Joshua has on the foursome dynamic, given his obvious infatuation with Scott, as well as ultimately on Joshua and Freddie’s budding relationship. I was of mixed feelings on this subplot. On one hand, it was nice to finally see these guys out of their little bubble. This was an issue I raised in my review of the first book; we never see the men interact with anyone other than each other and it was really hard to get a sense of how they lived in the real world. Here we see both Joshua and Freddie’s reactions to the very atypical relationship these men have, and it gives us a sense of perspective we don’t really get otherwise. On the other hand, with four MCs and a host of conflicts within their relationship, adding two more characters and their assorted issues definitely added a lot to a book that already had a great deal going on. I just was so invested in our foursome that I had trouble gathering up a lot of steam to focus on yet another relationship.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of conflicts here, mostly surrounding these guys settling into their relationship together and negotiating various problems, whether it be Paul’s travel schedule, Brian’s internship that takes him out of town, or Scott’s feelings about Brian’s submission to Paul. I think my biggest problem with this story is that these things never felt super clearly defined or resolved. For example, we see from the outset how Brian and Jim are both struggling in Paul’s absence. They talk about it when Paul returns, and a plan is sort of formulated, but mostly this issue just fades away. I wanted some more clear resolution to the problems they faced rather than having them brought up and then mostly disappearing. Part of the problem is that there are many things that are discussed among Paul and Jim (as the tops) or Scott and Brian (as the bratty subs) where they are discussing things they don’t share with the other two. But the problem is, they don’t always share them with us either. We hear them planning, but we are not always told what they are doing or why. Then we see this plan in place with little idea what is happening.
Despite these issues, I really found myself liking this one. I just really liked the relationship among these four men. I loved Scott and Brian and their friendship and deep connection. I loved when they were bratty and devilish and stirring up trouble. I loved the way Paul and Jim were there for each other as the dominant partners, helping to advise one another and showing that they didn’t always have all the answers but were supportive of one another. And I particularly loved Brian and his sweet nature and the way he is really the heart of this little family. So this is a book that is very heavy on the sex, with a healthy dose of kink thrown in. But at the bottom of it all is a sweet story of love, friendship, and the unique way four people can become a family.