Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Lacey “Lucky” Luck and her father, Bud, live in Sunset Pines trailer park. She is a good student, a whiz with a sketchbook, and likes running simply because there isn’t much else to do. Her father is probably the best mechanic in town and, whatever shortcomings he might have, he is there for Lucky. Lucky and Bud are as tightly knit as families come, so when the local sheriff comes with bad news about Lucky’s school attendance—which is hardly her fault if the local district won’t run a bus all the way to Sunset Pines—Lucky is more than willing to take the compromise on offer. Specifically, Lucky has to spend her senior year at the local bougie prep school and the school has already arranged a ride for her.

Whit Graham is a football star at Halton Prep and as wealthy as they come. Not only that, but he is the de facto leader of the school’s coolest clique, the Hellcats. But even he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for some easy extra credit: picking up a new student from Sunset Pines. Whit is immediately taken with Lucky and wastes no time establishing his claim. Word travels almost as fast as Whit moves, but Lucky enjoys having the attention of a very attractive and friendly guy. Whit goes out of his way to bring Lucky into the Hellcats and she has no problems accepting his frequent pushes for a relationship…as long as they both understand it’s just casual. Lucky is glad for that compromise when she meets Hudson Preston during cross country practice. Like Whit, Hudson is another sports star and very well-to-do. Unlike Whit, Hudson knows how to impress a lady with personal touches. Hudson never thought he’d have to compete with a guy like Whit, but Lucky lets both Hudson and Whit know she just wants to date them both.

What starts off as a competition between Whit and Hudson vying to be Lucky’s one and only slowly evolves into a two-way relationship: Lucky and Whit, and Lucky and Hudson. At Lucky’s suggestion, however, Whit and Hudson agree to getting to know each other outside of the “trying to win the girl” competition. What they discover is that they have far more in common than they would have thought. Lucky is as pleased as the boys are surprised at how well they get along. But their curious dynamic shifts dramatically when the three of them broach the idea of being physical together. Lucky just wants to love her two boys; Hudson is exploring his bisexual leanings earlier than he anticipated; and Whit is coming to terms with feeling any attraction for a man, let alone something emotional. As these three explore a relationship together, a jealous co-ed starts making trouble and crosses a line that could leave one of them dead.

Lucky is a contemporary, coming-of-age type story from GiGi DeGraham. After reading Prisoner, I was so stoked to see another book up for review by DeGraham. The book starts off by framing Lucky and Bud’s lives at Sunset Pines. The father/daughter duo don’t talk much, but they have a clear “ride-or-die” vibe going on. Whit is introduced soon thereafter and there are a good few chapters that establish how Whit is instantly attracted to Lucky, basically claiming her as his. Even as Whit tries getting Lucky to commit to being his girlfriend, Lucky holds her ground that she’s game to go along with it, but it’s just casual dating and not exclusive. By the time school actually starts, it felt like Lucky and Whit were well established. Personally, I found Whit at the beginning of the book to be a bit cringey. For example, Whit seems instantly attracted to Lucky even when he mistakes her for a freshman (!) and seemed unaware of the concept of consent (for all those PDAs). When Hudson came into the picture, it was a breath of fresh air.

In contrast to Whit, Hudson came across as a far more considerate love interest. Once he knew Lucky was into him, Hudson did his best to prove he was attuned to what she wanted and worked at making that happen. Honestly, it felt like Whit was just including her in his plans, whereas Hudson was making her plans his. Once Lucky makes it sufficiently clear (again) she will casually date both guys and they can take it or leave it, Hudson and Whit take that as a tacit invitation to outcompete each other. The competition starts off silly, but it kicks off a sort of character journey for Whit and that I think was really important.

I came to really enjoy the shifting dynamics Whit and Hudson represented in the book. The immature pissing contest these two have over Lucky slowly shifts into grudging friendship; Whit discovers there’s a lot more to Hudson than being a cross country star. Eventually, Whit finally internalized what Lucky was saying all along and what Hudson seemed to accept up-front: Lucky wasn’t playing a game, she wanted to keep both of them. That realization, coupled with some one-on-one bonding time with Hudson, eventually led to the first big shift in their polyamorous relationship: all three of them engaging in physical intimacy. After this bridge is crossed, there is a lot more soul searching by the boys while Lucky just seems to be pleased everyone is not just getting along, but connecting on more deeper levels. Ultimately, what started out as a challenge between two horny senior high school students for a third horny high school senior developed into a loyal throuple formed of deep bonds of friendship, attraction, and intimacy.

Of course that all got put to the test when a jealous side-character sabotages several peoples’ cars, landing one of our three love interests in a horrific car crash and in the hospital. In the aftermath of the accident, the lovers realize who has their back and who does not and that helps them figure out how to move forward.

As a whole, and especially after Lucky, Hudson, and Whit start to explore aspects of physical intimacy together, I thought this was a really interesting depiction of how a polyamorous relationship might develop. I think each of the three characters helps build a pillar that supports the relationship. Lucky, with her simple, upfront, and unapologetically clear communication about what she wants (i.e. she wants Hudson and Whit and she’ll have them both as long as they’re willing). Hudson with his queer identity—he’s not fond of any labels, but when we first meet him, he’s excited to get to college to explore his sexual identity more. And Whit as the clueless straight guy who realizes he’s not so straight and love can be so much more than one man, one woman.

My only real gripe was the way the intimacy was described. Specifically, it was sometimes hard to follow who was doing how much of what to whom. This was a bigger issue for me in the early stages of this development because there was still a whiff of competition between Whit and Hudson. Later, it was just a bit of a nuisance reading about them taking their delight with each other and not understanding who was in what position or who was doing what to whom. That’s because I think there are some big parts of the Whit/Hudson dynamic that shifted as they explored and experienced desire for each other outside of their shared desire for Lucky.

If you are looking for a thoughtful look at a multi-partner story, if you’re a fan of strong independent women, if you like slow-burn style queer awakenings, are a fan of found family, or you love a big angsty climax before a tidy happily ever after, then I think you’ll really enjoy Lucky.