After being in the Army for years and never finding the sense of family he was looking for, Xavier is once again a civilian. Once back stateside he is adrift, struggling with PTSD, with no family, and not many friends or thoughts on what to do with his engineering degree. He longs for a real home and a real relationship, but he has no idea how to make that happen. When Xavier meets Andrew, a high school teacher, he is attracted to the man and feels a connection he has only longed for in the past. But, Xavier learns quickly about Duncan, Andrew’s fiancé, and that they are Wiccan. Caught up in intense chemistry, Xavier, Andrew, and Duncan may just find that three is the magic number.
There were many things that were enjoyable about the first half of this novel. It is written in first person, present tense, with a dual perspective between Xavier and Andrew, which makes the insight into the characters immediate and accessible. The attraction between Xavier and Andrew is descriptive, sensual, intense, palpable, and at times entertaining. Xavier is starved for physical affection and when Xavier finally speaks with Andrew for the first time and Andrew smiles at him, he thinks “Those smiles make me think of kissing under sheets. My dick approves and lengthens, begging me to do something with it. Maybe rub it against the cute teacher?” There is a really…really…slow burn to getting these guys together and then there is plenty of dirty talk that has Xavier coming apart. There is no jealousy and adding Xavier into Andrew and Duncan’s solid ten-year relationship read as a natural extension to their needs.
As much as I enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half opened up several holes. The overall storyline was getting the men together and that was the major focus. We learn early on that Andrew and Duncan are Wiccan and there was a scene showing their involvement in the first portion of the book. The Wiccan storyline, another story line involving Andrew’s job at a Catholic school, and then the storyline involving Andrew’s family did not seem to adhere well to the rest of the book as it all sort of started and then stopped. The fact that they were Wiccan was presented as a major factor and it just did not play out that way. At first, it became a catalyst for Xavier’s PTSD to come out, but ultimately didn’t seem to have the desired impact on me, especially given it was one of the aspects that drew me to the book in the first place. Andrew’s job was brought in and there was a conversation with a colleague where a book was given to him. Then, the book was placed into a car glove box never to be mentioned again. We only get to know Duncan through Andrew and Xavier as their attraction was the focal point. There was no on page conversation between Andrew and Duncan about bringing in a third and it was mostly just assumed that this will happen. Also, Andrew’s family was another storyline that did not seem to mesh together. Whenever something significant was going on with the three men, someone from Andrew’s family was oddly present. Then, when a truly pivotal moment was happening that should have involved all three men, Andrew was sleeping. And, to add one last smaller point, the descriptions of the characters were often stated in the same fashion in different scenes. Duncan was often referred to as “soft” and the “beginnings of laugh lines around his eyes” was used more than once to describe Xavier, and it gave a repetitive quality to the writing.
While the second portion was building on the relationship aspect, there were several side plots that didn’t fully materialize. The first portion of the book had me invested in the journey of getting Andrew and Xavier together and then seeing how the three men would work together. The heated attraction between Xavier and Andrew was evocative and definitely worthwhile to read. If you enjoy a descriptive and intense slow burn with a few side stories added in, this may be one to try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.