Tanner and Zoë were the closest of friends and then dated through high school. When Tanner went to college, he thought the best thing would be to break up with Zoë, but that really wasn’t his best decision. He has goals though that include finishing college, becoming governor of Kentucky, becoming president, and getting Zoë back, not necessarily in that order.
At college, Tanner’s roommate is Eli. Eli’s family is wealthy and Eli is well connected and, with him backing Tanner, he knows Tanner can go all the way to the White House. Except, Tanner and Eli fall hard for each other and when it’s time for graduation, they know they can never go public with a relationship. Tanner is determined to get Zoë back, but his heart is split in two directions. He never ever thought he could have both Zoë and Eli for all time.
The Rule of 3 opens to a promising story. In quick progression, we get caught up with Tanner and Zoë’s relationship and breakup, and then Tanner and Eli’s relationship and breakup. It sets the stage for the conflict Tanner feels about both partners and then his future political career. We don’t get a lot of depth in either relationship, but it was enough to secure Tanner’s feelings for both of them. That worked fine in the early part of the book, but the lack of depth as the story continued didn’t work as well for me as the book then moves ahead in large chunks of time.
Tanner returns home to small town Kentucky after college, becomes mayor, eyes becoming governor, and tries to get Zoë back. Zoë is still in love with Tanner, but thinks she isn’t right for his political aspirations, is still hurt over their breakup, won’t speak to him, and years pass. Tanner and Eli have a difficult time ending their relationship; they have a close bond and meet up several times a year. Eli is fully aware that Tanner is trying to get Zoë back and encourages him, as he knows it’s right for Tanner’s career.
The way the three of them got together didn’t resonate with me as Eli and Zoë had built no relationship besides thinking the other looked good prior to becoming a threesome and declaring their love for each other. Zoë likes romance novels and early in the relationship the three of them act out a scene and the book then read more as a fantasy. The POV was constantly shifting and at times it was clear whose POV it was and at other times it read like it was no one’s POV with an overall narrator. The tone also had a fairy tale feel to it and I needed a lot more relationship development and overall depth.
Despite Tanner’s career aspirations, there is little politics in the book. There is a blackmail storyline wedged in and Zoë’s parents are added in as “hillbilly” caricatures and none of it added to the story for me. If you are looking for an MMF story that is light and more fantasy oriented, this might work better for you.