Reverend Nicholas Simmons and his husband, Dr. Zach Simmons, have been married for the past five years. They have been monogamous partners for the past ten years, though, and are both mature in their love and desires—as well as age, as both men are in their forties. Nicholas appreciates how difficult it has been to live his faith and his truth, and feels blessed to have such a loving husband and a welcoming parish in the hamlet of Mindle, England. Their community has embraced them, he thinks mainly because it had been a while since a vicar was in residence, and Zach’s medical services were also in demand.
Nicholas and Zach meet Brandon on Christmas Eve. He’s a comely young man running his newly opened bakery and deli in Mindle, which does not have much of a gay scene. And, well, he’s definitely eye-candy. Though neither Zach nor Nicholas are tempted to “stray,” there’s no doubt that the attractive Brandon stokes some fires for their libidos. And, well, it’s a cold Christmas for Brandon, who has no nearby family and is too new to the area to have cultivated any friendships. It’s only charitable to extend an invite for Christmas services and lunch. Brandon admires both Nicholas and Zach as men, and as a true, loving partnership. He doesn’t want to upset that, but he’s undeniably attracted to both of them, and he makes no apologies about it. When Brandon’s the last guest at the luncheon, the building sexual tension erupts into passionate lovemaking, which is more than a little confusing for Nicholas.
Zach and Nicholas need to sort out if, and how, the addition of Brandon to their love life will alter their partnership. Nicholas is particularly concerned that Zach might find nubile and attractive Brandon more to his liking—and he’s also afraid that the big age gap between them is problematic, verging on coercive. Brandon is not fazed; he knows his mind and likes older, mature, successful men that he can lean on and learn from. Not men to take care of him, but to care about him. He’s eager to be a partner to both Zach and Nicholas, if that’s even possible.
This was an entertaining and interesting menage romance on several fronts. First, the interracial aspect, as Zach is of Middle Eastern descent, and he faced specific discrimination from his community for being out and gay. In addition, there is his adjustment to being partner to a vicar, because there are some further culture clashes dealing with the Christianity aspect. Nicholas had an almost internalized homophobia; he’s always trying to have such a positive and non-threatening “front” to his parishioners, so they hopefully “overlook” his gayness. Zach is gently prodding Nicholas to recognize that God made him gay, and he should embrace all parts of himself without guilt. Beyond that, Nicholas is a great guy, and he’s very much in love with Zach.
Brandon is YOUNG. Way younger than even Zach or Nicholas had estimated. Nicholas’ fears that they may have corrupted both their marriage, and a barely legal man, cause conflict temporary conflict for all of them. The thing is, despite his youth, Brandon is adept at navigating the especially tricky boundaries of a menage, and has more experience than Zach or Nicholas at these sorts of intimate encounters. He’s down for more than one night, if Zach and Nicholas will just open their hearts and door a crack, not that he’ll beg for it. And, if they only ever end up as friends, well, Brandon still needs those too.
This is a menage story, so I kind of grant a little leeway to the believability of the situation. What made this more reasonable to me was the intense emotions and constant communication, mostly between Nicholas and Zach, as they are the established couple. Brandon is frank, earnest, and charming, so when he speaks it’s clear what his wants and needs are. I could feel and sympathize with Nicholas’ struggle, and I appreciated Zach’s constant love and support. Zach wasn’t exactly pushing for Brandon to join them, but he was more open to the notion of the experience than Nicholas, at first. Brandon is fun and friendly and hopeful, and it’s interesting to see him bend these two older men to his fantasy.
The new year is upon them all quickly, and that brings more of a Happy For Now ending with further sexy times, and the promise to continue a discreet menage romance. Expect a LOT of steam from this quickly paced holiday novella.