Cas and Beau are best friends, roommates, and friends with benefits. Deep inside both men wish it could be more, but each is afraid it would ruin their relationship. After being abandoned and rejected by so many people in his life, Beau has not only a deep loneliness, but a huge fear of rejection. He doesn’t believe Cas could ever want him long term, and so he is afraid of getting too close. Beau attempts to protect his heart by having an open, casual relationship with Cas rather than committing to being boyfriends and monogamous. For his part, Cas would love more with Beau, but he knows what Beau needs to feel safe and so he doesn’t push.
When Cas has to leave for a month for reserves duty, the men know the separation will be hard. With Cas’ encouragement, Beau attempts to fill the loneliness with casual hookups while Cas is gone. When he meets Finn, the men figure it will be a night of fun, but the guys connect in unexpected ways. Finn is so much like Beau, lonely and unsure about his place after his rough past and time spent in jail. As the weeks go by, the two begin to find something real building between them, but Finn knows that Cas is the one who truly holds Beau’s heart and that once Cas returns, Finn will lose Beau.
It turns out, Cas’ return shakes things up more than any of the men anticipated, as Finn and Cas have an unexpected past together. Finn knows he has to step aside, and Beau isn’t willing to risk losing Cas to be with Finn. But their feelings for each other aren’t going away. More than that, Cas and Finn are finding their own connection once again. Now the men have an opportunity to find happiness all together, if they are willing to take a chance on a complicated situation.
Uncomplicated is the second book in K.M. Neuhold’s Inked series, a spin off of her Heathen’s Ink books. I have not read any of the prior books in either series, but this story stands alone completely and I had absolutely no trouble jumping in here. While some characters from earlier books get mentioned or make small appearances, this story focuses almost exclusively on Cas, Finn, and Beau, and so really it isn’t necessary to know anything about the other folks who pop in briefly.
When I read a menage story, I am looking for distinct characters that are well developed and where I can see clearly how they all fit together as a threesome, rather than just as sets of two. Neuhold really delivers on that here with Cas, Finn, and Beau. We get a great sense of each of these men and what makes them who they are, as well as how they all fit together. The story starts with Cas and Beau, and even though it is only a short time before Cas leaves town, the connection between them is so strong and clear. Then we get time to see Finn and Beau together and watch that relationship build, and later to see Finn and Cas rekindle their connection. But more than that, Neuhold really shows why these guys work all together. Their connection is intense, the men are super sexy together, and it is clear that they really care about one another and need each other to truly make it all work between them. I could believe in what they were building together and really enjoyed their relationship.
Most of the story focuses on the developing relationship among the men, in pairs and later as a group. So this book is strongly character driven and that is where things really shined for me. However, there is a small subplot focuses on Finn that didn’t work quite as well. There are some gang members who think Finn snitched while in jail and now are after him. This subplot felt kind of shoehorned in solely to create conflict and just didn’t really fit with the rest of the book for me. Finn’s life is supposed to be in danger and they talk about not letting him go anywhere alone, but for most of the book no one seems to remember or care that this is a problem, nor are they actually seeming to take any precautions. It also bugged me that for all their talk about communication, Cas and Beau don’t disclose to Finn things about what is going on that he deserves to know. There just never really felt like the right sense of urgency here to match the risk and this subplot just fell flat for me. That said, this is such a small part of the story that it really didn’t have a big effect on my overall enjoyment.
K.M. Neuhold is fast becoming a favorite author for me and I really enjoyed this book quite a lot. The characters are so nicely developed and I loved watching their relationship evolve. Neuhold takes these three men and builds their connections so nicely, bringing them together in a really rewarding partnership that I just loved. So this was a great start to the series for me and I am looking forward to more.