Steven and Sam are the best of friends. It was Sam that saved Steven’s sanity and gave him a safe haven to escape from his abusive parents. It was Sam that held him in the dark and it was Sam that Steven grew to love.
When Charlie arrived, she immediately became their other best friend and forged a close bond with Steven. Yet it was Charlie and Sam that began a romantic relationship.
Now in college, the scars of Steven’s childhood still have a hold on him. The three of them share an apartment and Steven finally feels safe, yet it is Charlie that shares Sam’s bed and Steven misses the safe physical comfort only his best friend can provide. Steven has never really been sexually attracted to anyone other than Sam. When Steven makes a confession to Sam, both of them must face the depth of their feelings for each other and for Charlie as well. Because, maybe, they all just might be in love with each other.
Steven is a well written, interesting character, and this is primarily his story. This book focuses a lot on his sexuality and how he perceives himself. He has successfully navigated himself away from his abusive father and addict mother, but doesn’t feel that he is capable of being in love. He knows he loves Sam and he craves the familiar comfort that they provide each other, yet it takes him a while to realize he is in love with him. It takes him even longer for him to realize that he is in love with Charlie as well, although his feelings for each of them are different. (To avoid any confusion, Charlie is female)
Steven realizes that he only feels attraction to people that he has an emotional and mental connection with and he has a lot of emotional and psychological issues he is dealing with that stem from his childhood. There is also evidence of PTSD as he is put into situations that trigger flashbacks. Charlie also keeps Steven grounded and offers him unconditional friendship, love, and support. In the first part of the book, the author does a great job of not only getting us deep into Steven’s psyche, but also showing us the intense feelings and relationship between Steven and his two best friends.
The lead up to the three of them is intense and when the relationship between the three of them become physical, there are a lot of firsts that are involved for everyone. Steven is so captivated with Sam, yet he has a really hard time processing everything and never wants to come between Sam and Charlie. In the aftermath, there are a lot of realistic jealousies. The author does not have the three of them come together to then ride off into the sunset and there is a lot of work to be done. Steven is so well depicted that his actions and hesitations completely make sense for his character. How Sam and Charlie’s reactions were handled, however, didn’t work as well for me, primarily because we are only in Steven’s head. When Sam and Charlie are discussing their relationship we are not invited to the conversation and neither is Steven for the most part. When the tension in the apartment becomes just too tense for Steven, he thinks about going home for a visit. Yep, a visit to the parents that abused him that he couldn’t wait to get away from. His family situation was an area that was not dealt with much and one area I had issues with. When Sam’s mother had tended to Steven’s injuries at one point and was aware that his father had been beating him, no one was told, nothing was done, and Steven is clearly still struggling emotionally.
The author is able to put Steven’s internal thoughts on intimate display. When he kisses Sam for the first time a new life begins for him and he thinks:
He tasted like cinnamon toothpaste, and he murmured, “I got you. We both do.” He was a heaven I’d never tasted, and he dragged me out of hell….
Steven is the character that shines here and it is worthwhile to meet him as Gray creates a unique character and opens him up completely.