This contemporary ménage romance was a bit of a miss for me.
Francis is a freshman at college, and he has a history of both sexual assault and sexual abuse. He is wealthy but reclusive, afraid to be hurt again. He has changed his name to escape the notoriety regarding the sensational court case that revealed Francis’ abuse. On Francis’ first day he meets Sebastian, a supremely confident bisexual hockey star, and Andrew, a kind and compassionate, but closeted, football player.
Both Andrew and Sebastian are attracted to Francis, and are pretty upfront about their interest. Thing is, Francis is very reticent about choosing one. So, he chooses both. They embark on a tender romance—with both Andrew and Sebastian promising to keep Francis safe.
What I liked: all three men are honest, kind young men. They want the best for one another and make decisions that are sensitive to the needs of the others. They are extremely supportive. They also build friendships outside of their “throuple.”
Why I struggled to like this more: The language of the book is unusual. It is very passive, with lots of jarring terms and, at times, melodramatic responses and events. When I’m reading about three men aged 18-20 having a physical relationship, I rather expect certain words to be part of the narrative. Dick, cock, erection, penis, are all acceptable terms for men this age to use, but they don’t appear once—not even in their internal thoughts. I was also thrown by some of the expressions. While people may “emote,” it’s so uncommon a description I can’t hear that in my reading brain. Yet, Francis, Andrew and Sebastian emote…often. The descriptions seemed more akin to grannies than virile athletes; it pulled me out of the story time and again. When a 19-year old describes how kissing causes tingles in his “special place” I’m troubled. When one calls his would-be lover “Lover-Boy” or “Water-Bug” or “Song Bird” it sounds pre-juvenile. This impaired my ability to connect with the characters. But, I think the hardest to take was the constantly shifting point-of-view that let the reader know what everyone was thinking the second they thought it, and this was completely distracting.
There is a subplot regarding an intrusive reporter following Francis around, taking pictures and asking outrageous questions. His shenanigans cost Francis his anonymity. This, I had a hard time swallowing, because the revenge aspect seemed unrealistic, and I couldn’t get past the breach of confidentiality issues.
I honestly had trouble with the single sex scene. I have read and loved many ménage books, but this I didn’t get, at all. Somehow, surviving a brutal assault makes Francis convinced that his first consensual sex should rival a Sean Cody double penentration scene—I was about as horrified as Andrew and Sebastian.