When Noah was eighteen his father saw him kissing a boy and immediately threw him out of the house. The first time he returns to the Outer Banks is for his father’s funeral. Thinking it will just be a quick trip, Noah then discovers that his father has left him his house and his boat. A meeting with Ian, his father’s neighbor, then shows Noah new insight into his father and Noah has to decide whether to stay or go. Noah is also drawn to Ian, but Ian is struggling to shake off the damage done by his pushy and cheating ex and has no thoughts on getting involved with anyone as his self esteem has taken many hits.
On the same day Noah meets Ian, he also meets three other men. There is Ty, who everyone loves to be around, but Ty’s light is being dimmed as he struggles to care for and keep secret his Great Aunt’s dementia. Then there’s Gabriel, who wears his scars inside and out and while the beating he took didn’t kill him, every breath is just a reminder that he has nothing left to live for. There’s also Joshua, who is running from being wrongly accused for a crime he didn’t commit, but no longer has a home.
As the five men are drawn to each other, each man has different needs and trust issues and they are all guarded, but each man can also bring something needed to this five-sided relationship. If they can open their hearts, they might just find a life together in the last place Noah ever thought he would call home.
The initial allure of this book was to see what the author could do with a five-sided relationship. On that point, the story worked reasonably well as the men just come together. I do feel this will have to be a two-part review with the first part to discuss the plot and characters and then a second part to discuss the language and style of the book.
When Noah returns he is just trying to get through his father’s funeral amidst the whispers of the locals and the wrath of his sister. He quickly meets Ian, Ty, Gabriel, and Joshua and the men just get along immediately. The five of them in a relationship seems the least likely of outcomes, but they are all in the same frame of mind fairly easily, although some of them do have doubts about what they in particular can bring to the relationship. They all have self esteem issues in some way and they all have a different kind of baggage they carry around.
Mixed in throughout the book are the stories of all five men. Some stories go into a bit more depth than others, and while I had a sense of each man, there were areas that weren’t explored at all and areas I needed more of from several characters. One area was Noah’s back story, as he’s been gone from his home for ten years, yet it’s not discussed where he has been or what he has been doing. I felt that there was much more going on with several characters than what we were shown.
The men all step into the roles that fit this unconventional relationship and they begin to function as a unit. It was written as incredibly easy and the author does a good job of having you believe that these five guys could make a go of it. There is POV from each character that is clear and when all of the men are together those scenes have clarity as well. Their reveal scene read as a bit contrived, but it did offer a nod to the trust and respect these guys all had for each other.
The area I had so much difficulty with in this book was the language. This is a contemporary story and, while the ages of each guy are not specifically laid out, it seemed that Noah was the oldest at 28. Much of the dialogue was not contemporary language, many passages read like the guys from over yonder quite some time ago traveled to present day, and I had to work my way through the word choices to get to the story.
These are just a few examples of the language throughout the book:
“And since Ian had dirtied the dishes, he was the one who ought to set them to rights.”
“Gabriel shook his head hard, as if to unstopper his ears.”
“This is the actual ocean, by the bye?”
“I’ll drink the last of the coffee, forsooth.”
“…we need more beer or other drinkables…”
“…with one hand over the abused proboscis.”
“These got missed out.”
“More fool me.”
“Had to be hard, that.”
So much of the language did not fit the contemporary aspect or the age range of the characters for this book.
The author showed an ease of a five-way relationship for these guys, although the relationship was new and fairly insular. I would be interested in seeing how these guys would fair over the long run. If it doesn’t bother you that the language doesn’t fit the setting or the characters and you are interested in reading about a polyamorous relationship where the guys come together with ease, Five-Sided Heart may be a good fit for you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.