Ezra is turning 30 and his carefully planned life is ending up nothing like he expected. Ezra has come to recognize that he’s gay and needs to end things with his wife, but he is still too scared to really act. It’s his birthday and he is taking a chance by going to a gay bar for the first time. Ezra is totally overwhelmed, but a chance conversation gives him the confidence he needs to finally make the changes in his life and move forward as the person he really wants to be.
Now, it’s a year later, Ezra is divorced, has moved to the city, and is just beginning to live his new life. He’s decided that the next item on his checklist, right before finally kissing a man, is to get in shape. So he heads off to the local gym. At first, Ezra is completely intimidated by all the giant jocks and is about to turn and run, but the sexy owner of the gym talks to him into staying and Ezra decides to take a chance on some personal training sessions.
Xeno is a local baker and a gym regular. He’s a big, bulky guy and he has a love-hate relationship with Andre, the gym owner. The two of them are hyper competitive with one another, always challenging each other to see who can lift the most, run the fastest, or work the hardest. There’s clearly an attraction between them and some unresolved sexual tension, but there’s also a competitiveness that neither one can quite let go of long enough to act on those feelings.
As it turns out, Ezra’a new apartment is on the same floor of the same building where both Andre and Xeno live. It gives the guys a chance to get to know each other better and both Xeno and Andre find Ezra adorable. Ezra can hardly believe these two humongous jocks even want to give scrawny little him the time of day, but both guys make it clear that they’re into him. At first, Ezra is slowly building something separately with both Xeno and Andre (with both their knowledge). At the same time, the two of them are also trying to move past their competitiveness to see if there could be something else between them.
Xeno, Andre, and Ezra continue seeing one another as couples, but slowly that begins to expand to include getting together the three of them. The connection among them all is amazing. Something about the softer, sweeter Ezra helps to provide that balance to temper some of the competitiveness between Andre and Xeno. At the same time, the bold confidence the other two men have starts to help Ezra come out of his shell and begin to really claim himself and the person that he wants to be. As the three of them go deeper into the relationship, they’re starting to realize that maybe what they actually want is to all be together. But taking a chance on a relationship is hard enough; taking a chance on one with two men is even harder. Now, Ezra, Andre, and Xeno have to decide if they’re willing to explore what they could all be together and hope that they can find a happily ever after among the three of them.
Bro Split is exactly the kind of story K.M. Neuhold is so good at. It’s fun and sexy, but also with such great character development that it really elevates the book to give it a lot of depth as well. I love the way that we see how coming together as a threesome really changes that dynamic between each pair of men. When the story starts, Xeno and Andre have been having this sexual-tension-filled competitiveness; there is a sort of an undercurrent of lust going on, but the two of them just don’t fit by themselves. It’s just too much testosterone and too much intensity, and neither of them have enough softness about them to really find a way to make it work as a couple. They’re both almost too much alike in a way, and they need someone else to provide that balance. Ezra is shy and sweet and really just coming into his own and he provides that element the guys need to just smooth out their relationship and make it work. Ezra is a little bit shy and innocent, and he is sort of figuring out what it is he wants. And that helps Xeno and Andre sometimes to take a step back instead of pushing forward and worrying so much about winning. So there’s really a nice sense here that these three guys fit together in ways any two of them alone do not.
We get a lot of really nice growth from all of them over the course of the story. For Ezra, we see him in the prologue as somebody who is just on the cusp of taking a chance. He’s used to living this rigidly controlled life, and suddenly he’s realizing his sexuality has thrown all of that out of whack and he doesn’t really know how to go forward. There’s this nice moment between him and Xeno when they meet in the bar where Xeno gives Ezra the encouragement to take the chance and change things up. And over the course of the book, we really see that continue. Ezra might start off sort of timid, but he gets a boldness and confidence that comes from accepting who he is and reaching out to claim what he wants. He also gets that reinforcement from both guys he’s dating to believe that he is desirable and strong and that he can do all these things that he wants to do. There’s also some nice development with regard to Andre, who tends to mostly have these superficial hook ups and really thinks that he doesn’t have a chance at much more than that. He tends to date the same type of guy over and over and it’s never quite working and he’s the one who is the most afraid about pursuing anything with the other two. So we also see him gain that confidence to be all in with a relationship and to not hold back and to not feel like everything has to be a contest that he must win, but that he can step back and believe he’s good enough just as he is. So, as I said, I think Neuhold does a really nice job here because yes, the story is super sexy, and yes, there’s a lot of levity and sometimes silliness, but there’s also really nice character development and a sense of growth to these guys that I think gives the story some nice heft.
I enjoyed this one quite a lot and just tore through it. I think it’s one of my favorite of the recent books that I have read by the author. If you’re a fan of sweet and sexy stories, particularly sort of the jock/geek vibe, then I think this one is going to really be a hit for you.
P.S. This story is the second book of Neuhold’s More Than Friends series, but it stands alone completely and new readers can easily jump in here