Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes and his partner, chef Cass Pearson, have been in love and deeply committed to one another for many years. Their busy schedules often keep them apart however, and things haven’t been quite as smooth as usual lately. The men have always had an open relationship with casual sexual partners on the side, but no one either man has ever been serious about. That is just sex, and nothing has come close to the love they feel for one another.
When Tom meets Jake Thompson, he finds an unexpected connection with the man. Yes, he feels sexual chemistry, but there is something more. The men spend a hot night together, but when Jake learns about Cass, he has trouble understanding their relationship, and puts a stop to the sex between them. However, Tom ends up hiring Jake to help him out with his restaurant opening, so the men begin to develop a friendship that grows and builds over time. And despite the fact that Jake won’t sleep with Tom anymore, the sexual connection between the two of them is still very strong.
Although Jake worries about getting in between the two men, Cass is actually quite supportive of Tom’s relationship with Jake. He has no jealousy, and he can see not just the connection between them, but how much Tom needs to help and care for Jake as he gets on his feet. At first Jake is awkward around Cass, but eventually a friendship develops between them, and ultimately an attraction as well. Cass and Tom would love to build something with Jake, but Jake is still wary, especially as he sees the tension between the pair. But it is clear that these men have fallen for one another, and that Jake is part of their lives and their hearts. He must just take a chance to join Tom and Cass, and build a new relationship with the three of them.
So this is a lovely, quietly intense book that really focuses on the relationship and the characters of Tom, Cass, and Jake. There is something just so solid and satisfying about this story, and I loved really getting to know these characters and seeing the relationship among them grow.
The first part of the book is told from Tom’s POV, and we learn about his partnership with Cass and their deep connection. It is clear that these men are truly in love. Yes, there is some tension caused by their long hours, but we never doubt that these men love each other intensely and are deeply committed to one another. I appreciated that Leigh is subtle here; we are are not seeing a couple falling apart, just some quiet tension that shows the strain on their lives and how they need to find some balance. The two have always had an open relationship, and are clearly able to separate sexual trysts with others from the true loving partnership they have with one another. Tom is our window here, both to Cass and Jake. We see his relationships with the two men running almost parallel, as Jake and Cass have little contact at this point. He doesn’t set out to actively pursue a relationship with Jake, but we can see the connection between them so clearly, and it is obvious to all three men that there is something quite real there.
The second section is told from Jake’s POV, and here we get to see the development of his friendship with Cass, and the deepening of things with Tom. Leigh makes it all feel so real. We can understand Jake’s attraction to Tom, at the same time as he feels uncertainty about getting between Tom and Cass. Even as Jake accepts that he will not cause a rift, he still doesn’t know quite how he fits in, can’t figure out if there is really a place for him in their partnership. Like I said, this story really examines these guys and the character development is just wonderful as we learn about these men and their relationships. I particularly enjoyed how we see these guys in pairs before they ever get together as a threesome. I could see how strongly bonded each of the men was to the other two, making their ultimate triad see much more realistic. I never felt like Jake was an add in; he becomes a part of their lives and even helps them find more a balance with work and home life.
Cass in the only one who doesn’t get major POV time here. He does have a short section at the end, but the book is mostly Tom and Jake. For that reason I didn’t feel like I quite got Cass as well as the other two. I had no doubts about his feelings for Jake and Tom, but I just didn’t feel like I got him as clearly. This was a bit of an issue because Cass has a troubled past and some of the late story conflict comes as that past begins to meet his present. I think this part would have had more impact if I felt like I had a better handle on his character.
So I really enjoyed Misfits quite a lot. It is not a typical story, as I rarely have read romances where casual sex with others is such an openly accepted part of the relationship. I actually found I liked it quite a lot, as Leigh shows how these men are truly committed to each other, truly in love, even as they have sexual encounters with other people. It was also such an interesting way to incorporate Jake into the story, and I loved seeing his relationship grow with each of these men. I would have enjoyed a bit more time with all three together, but I found the ending quite satisfying. Overall this is just a lovely story with really well drawn characters and a lot of warmth and love. Definitely recommended.