goldilocks and his three bearsRating: 4 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Brian loves to visit the local leather bar, the Faultline, and check out all the hot bears and leather daddies.  He goes crazy for a big strong man and finds they are often equally attracted to his blond curls and lithe body.  When Brian meets Paul, the man is everything he wants: big and burly, full of tattoos, and dominating in bed.  But Paul is also gentle and caring and dotes on Brian, and soon they are seeing each other regularly.

throwback thursdayWhen Paul goes out of town for several months for work, Brian is at a loss.  He and Paul had no commitments to each other and set no expectations for while Paul is gone.  Brian finds himself lonely and when he meets Jim, another hot bear with a cuddly, laid back nature, he and Paul begin a hot series of hookups as well.  Brian is shocked when Jim brings him home one day and it turns out he and Paul are roommates.  When Jim too ends up leaving town, Brian is once again at a loss until he meets their third roommate, Scott.  Once again Brian starts up a fling, only to be discovered by Paul and Jim upon their return home.

Brian is sure this means the end of things between him and Paul, something that pains him as seeing Paul again makes him realize how much he truly has grown to care for the man. But as it turns out, all of Brian’s bears are happy sharing.  It takes a lot of work and communication, but it turns out Goldilocks may just be able to have all of his three bears.

So yep, this book is pretty much exactly what you may expect: cute twink with hot bears, lots of sex in a variety of combinations, and a clever wink at the Goldilocks fairy tale.  It is definitely more heavy on the sex than on the plot, but I actually think Riley does a nice job pulling something together here that is more than just piles of sex.

First off, I loved the Goldilocks element here. It doesn’t go too far over the top fortunately, just a few nods here and there that are good for a little entertainment.  The three men pretty much fit into the three bears mold. Paul is the Poppa bear (and Brian calls him Daddy), all big and strong and protective.  He is the more structured one, the one that sets the rules, and is definitely the one who leads, both with Brian and with the other men.  Paul is the Momma Bear (in fact that is his nickname). He is cuddly and nurturing and protective.  Paul is the one always cooking for everyone, the one people go to when they need hugging or comfort.  And Scott is the baby bear. He is not just physically smaller than the others, but he also is just less sophisticated, less used to relationships.  He and Brian are more peers than they are with the other men.  In addition to the men’s personalities and Brian’s physical appearance, there are a few other clever nods to the Goldilocks story, including the bears finding Brian asleep in the bed.  This passage is a cute little wink to the fairy tale as the guys decide which bed to use for a group encounter:

“Now, Jim, I’m not sure I can get used to that water bed,” said Paul after they’d shaken.  He put a hand on Brian’s ass and sort of fondled it as he spoke.

“Yeah, it’s like surfing’.  Takes some getting used to.  That futon is mighty hard, though.”

“Scott’s bed is perfect,” piped up Brian.

So nothing over the top here, but some clever fun with the story.

Plotwise, I’ll be honest, things aren’t too complex.  Most of the book is about these men navigating their relationship and various combinations.  Paul and Brian are clearly a couple and have an emotional, as well as physical, relationship.  Not only are they partnered, but they also explore some BDSM elements that just remain between them.  But they also bring both Jim and Scott (separately and together) into their relationship, and Brian has sex with both of the other men individually (and Scott and Jim are together alone as well).  So like I said, lots of sex in a variety of combinations.  Riley does manage to pull some story thread out of this, so despite the enormous amounts of sex, it doesn’t quite turn into one massive orgy all the time.  We see Brian and Paul together as they explore elements of BDSM and what works for them.  Jim struggles with a past he keeps hidden that makes it difficult for him to stick around one place for long, and we see how that affects Scott who has begun to care for him.  Brian goes back to school with the support of Paul and the guys.  But yeah, there isn’t a really strong plot core running through this and if that is what you are looking for, this may not be the book for you. (And presumably it goes without saying that if you can’t deal with open relationships or Brian having sex with the others while Paul is gone then this isn’t the story for you either.)

So I did wish for a bit more here.  For example, I wanted to have a better handle on the emotional end of things between all the men.  Like I said, Paul and Brian are clearly a committed couple, but I had some trouble getting a sense for the emotions behind their relationship with the other men.  Brian is definitely emotionally invested in both Jim and Scott, but it isn’t quite the same as his love for Paul.  And Paul clearly has a strong friendship with both other men, but he never sleeps with them without Brian.  So maybe I am looking for lines that don’t exist, or don’t need to exist, but I wanted to understand more what was sex and what was emotion between all of them.

There are also lots of issues that are explored, but not in quite as much depth as I wanted. For example, we know Brian is going back to school, but we don’t hear much about that decision making process. We see Jim clearly has some commitment issues and learn a bit about his past, but it is not really fully developed, especially in regards to his relationship with Scott. And the men seem to sort of live in a vacuum, in that they only ever interact with one another on page. I would have loved to see how they make this work in the real world, with friends and families and navigating a sort of foursome, sort of open couples type relationship outside of their cozy little home.  There is a second book in the set, so maybe some of that is explored in more depth there, but I did wish for some more development in this first story.

Since this is a Throwback Thursday post, I will mention that I think this story holds up pretty well over time.  Just for clarity, this book was first published in 2007 by Torquere and then republished in 2011 by Loose Id. I am not clear on whether there were changes from the first edition, but it appears it was republished to coincide with the release of the second book, A Man, a Jersey, and a Tight End.  Given the fact that we just about never see these guys outside of their home, most of it feels pretty timeless. The only place that felt a little out of date was with regards to phones. There are several times, especially in the beginning when people are coming and going, that they don’t have each other’s numbers, mention not being able to call one another, not liking to use the phone, etc.  The reality is that in 2014 these guys would likely be texting each other and these big communications lapses wouldn’t have happened. But other than that, I think this story still works just as well today as when it was originally released.

So overall I enjoyed this Goldiocks retelling.  You need to know what you are getting here: lots of sex, some lighthearted fun, hot bears with a blondie twink, and some light storyline woven in.  But for me it was a lot of fun and a sweet and sexy story. I am looking forward to picking up the next book and seeing what else is in store for this foursome.

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