When a story with three guys building a relationship comes along, I often like to see how an author will handle it. JJ Harper is a new-to-me author and the basics of this story sounded interesting. The blurb reads as:
When Denver’s long-term partner breaks up with him, he flees his life, his career, and his bright future as one of the country’s leading trauma surgeons. Ditching everything but his dog, Denver returns to the quiet town of Cooper’s Ridge and his parents’ ranch.
Leaving twelve years earlier, Denver knew he would never be accepted as a gay man in an unaccepting town. So, when he meets Kes—an old school friend—in the bar he owns, he is shocked to find him in an openly gay relationship. Something he never thought would happen here.
What surprises him even more is the instant, mutual attraction the three men have. Accepting a job in Kes’ bar, they dance around each other, wanting them but not believing he would ever fit in with a couple so obviously in love. But, they want him. And they are not prepared to let him go.
Denver takes a risk and accepts their offer of a night out, finding a side of himself he never knew existed. Not trusting himself to be enough for the two men, the desire blooming in him is unprecedented and he can’t deny it: he wants them as much.
He finds his life falling into place, all because of two men. Is it possible he found his forever in a place he never expected it?
The prologue of this story opens with Denver’s long time, live-in boyfriend telling him he’s not only been cheating on him, but he’s moving out and marrying the other guy. Denver is devastated and the initial set up was promising. After that, the story didn’t work for me, mostly because of the dialogue and the writing style. I thought if I squinted I could make out a decent story throughout it all, but it became apparent I wasn’t able to do that.
Denver sells his home, quits his job, and heads back to the town he grew up in. We are told he’s living in the “city,” but we are never told where that is or where he heads off to aside from the name of the fictional town of Cooper’s Ridge. Given the fact that Denver drove a pick-up truck and referenced cowboys, there was every indication that he was in America, possibly in Texas due to two potential context clues, and was American, and not being told where the story took place was an issue in itself. Yet, much of the dialogue felt British in nature, in addition to being stilted and formal.
A few examples:
“I’m just trying to sort an advert for another bartender.”
“He’s a fusspot and likes everything done his way.”
“I better go fetch our pizza.” (fetch is used more than once)
“I thought we could just muck in with our hands…” (in reference to eating)
“…the heat of his touch still scolding my skin.” (I have no idea if this is a typo or if the wrong word was used)
“…if I don’t hurry, Kes will be rushed off his feet, keeping his serving staff replenished.” (in context I could sort of get this, but what this ultimately means is not clear)
The rest of the dialogue was overly formal and there was no natural flow to the conversations, in addition to many of the descriptions falling into the category of purple prose and it was way too overdone with it for me:
My stomach turns, awakening a thousand, coiling, roiling snakes, writhing, but in a good way, an excited, ‘hell yeah!’ sort of way. (Umm say what now?)
The blown pupils shine jet black as his desire pulses from them. (Ouch)
His hand flexes as I inhale his scent, so clean yet masculine. The sweat from the dancing only heightens my desires, fueling the fire already burning brightly inside my chest, making my heart beat faster. The need for these men to own me courses through me like red hot, all consuming lava.
The feel of his hands, in my hair and on my hips, keeps me centered, them it builds up. My orgasm starts to climb, growing in power and size, like a wave on the ocean. Then, like a tsunami, it crashes over me and I come. I fire cum over the sheets as East roars and pours his hot release into my mouth and down my throat. His hands grip tightly onto my hair but I don’t mind how painful it is, it’s [sic] only heightens the explosion pouring from my cock. I gulp and swallow….
I read until 25% of the book and the chapters are first person from different characters’ POVs. Kes and East live together and they sound exactly the same. The also call each other “baby” all the time. I have no issue with the term of endearment, but it was used way too often by both of them, which then made it harder to tell who was speaking.
Kes and East are in a committed relationship and have brought in a third in the past for casual fun. Just in the part that I read, they were ready to not only have Denver in their bed, but in their lives permanently and it was presented way too fast. There is also a story line with one of them having a daughter and then a second child will appear later on, but I got out while I could. The shell of the story had potential, but the style, execution, and dialogue were all a miss for me.