I thought this book was going to be a hot-and-heavy steamer about, uh, three “bears.” In reality, it’s a slow burn romance between three younger men—two who have been best friends for years and a third man they meet. Three Bears is a surfing location in Australia, and surfing played a nice role in the development of the relationships.
Dan is a young man with big decisions to make. He’s fairly sure he’s attracted to his former roommate and long-time bestie, Josh, but he’s never had a thing for a man before. Josh has been out for all the time Dan has known him, and while he thinks Josh would go for some sexytimes with him, well, Dan is positive he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship in the event the physical attraction doesn’t pan out.
Still, Dan’s broken off with his longtime girlfriend and moved into Josh’s home for an extended visit in Margaret River—a surfing mecca for western Australians. Dan’s not a surfer, but he meets Luke, a part-time barista who offers to show him the ins-and-outs. Luke makes it no secret that he’s attracted to Dan, and Dan’s confused by his attraction to Luke. Clearly, if he finds two men sexually attractive he must be gay, right? And, he’s certainly charged up by Luke’s advances. Dan gets Luke and Josh together and that’s when things begin to click. Dan finds both of them attractive…together. Whoo, lawd. Dan’s totally messed in the head wondering how he could possibly want to be with two men, together, when he’s hardly ever even kissed a man before. If he can’t get outside of his head, he’ll never figure this out. Good thing Luke and Josh decide to nudge things along.
This is an interesting menage story with three points of view: Dan, Luke, and Josh. Dan tells a lot of it and the story is mainly centered on him, which is why I framed the recap on him. Josh has had a long-time crush on Dan, and he’s also confused that Dan has developed such a close connection with Luke. Is Dan questioning or gay? Josh has been hurt by questioning guys before and he’s not willing to take that risk with Dan. Plus, even if Dan is gay, it’s not guaranteed that he’ll want to date Josh. So, Josh plays it very cool, hoping not to reveal his own desires and ruin their friendship. Meanwhile, Luke—as an outsider—is able to confirm that Dan is not only attracted to men, he’s got if bad for Josh. Luke, not having the history Dan and Josh do, decides to see if he can goad Dan into following his passion by coming on to Josh himself. This takes their dynamic into a whole different direction, via a bit of well-executed exhibitionism. For all three men, there’s a growing attraction and sense of connection. I liked how Dan—a master thinker and minor doer—winds himself up and up with his fears only to break out in the most passionate of manners. Josh has welcoming arms for both his dearest mate and his newest lover—which he didn’t anticipate, but is grateful to have discovered. Luke, well, he’s been a third before, and likes it, but doesn’t want to exist on the outside. It’s up to Dan and Josh to prove Luke’s essential to their love. This part kinda got lost in the epilogue, but I could see/feel that the triad was working well.
The steam factor isn’t super high, but I liked how tender and honest it felt. Dan has lots of questions, concerns, and issues with his new awareness of his sexuality. He’s handled with care and love—with happy endings for all.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.