Rating: 4.25 stars
Pauly Mitchell never thought a simple evening of bar hopping with friends would end being chased by a crazy person in a cab following him in a cab. Lucky for him, his cab driver is quick thinking as well as being very cute and the night ends with the psycho in custody, the other cab driver only slightly wounded and a safe trip home. Then he meets up again with not only his cab driver but the 911 operator who coordinated their rescue. Both men are attractive in separate ways and both attracted to him. What’s a guy with a bad romantic past to do?
Randy never thought that one wild night as a cab driver would turn his world upside down. When he runs into Pauly again after their wild ride in his cab, Randy asks him out and the date is going great. Then the two of them run into James, the 911 Operator who coordinated their rescue the other night and he joins them on the date. When Randy finds himself drawn to both men, he is confused and overwhelmed by his feelings. Never secure about his looks, why would he think either of them would like him back?
James has always kept himself commitment free. Love them or more realistically have sex with them and let them go. But lately that has gotten old and something seems to be missing from his life. He has a circle of friends who are mostly paired up and he is feeling a little envious. But his job as a 911 operator leaves him little time for relationships so no one is more surprised then he is when a chance meeting between two of the men involved in one of his calls starts turning into friendship, then something more. James wants Pauly, and he wants Randy too. He thinks they might feel the same. Who is going to take the first step into making them a threesome?
This is the second book for me this week involving threesomes, not a relationship structure I normally read. Both books make it work well within the context of their stories and make it totally believable which is key to making me understand a threesome or as Pauly calls it “a triad”. Concord Grape is the sixth book in the Fruit Basket series by TC Blue. Each book is the story of a relationship between characters from a close knit group of friends. I have read three from this series and can vouch for the wonderful characterization by TC Blue in each story.
I really like Concord Grape because I think TC Blue did a great job of giving us three diverse characters and then juggling the dynamics of their needs/insecurities/damaged pasts as they struggle towards understanding that they want a relationship that extends past the normal pairing into one that stretches to include all three men. None of the men here have ever give thought to such a relationship until now which makes it easy for the reader to go along with them as they sort out their thoughts about such an unconventional partnership. As they come to accept that it is possible, so does the reader. Job well done!
Pauly is the most damaged of the three men and the first to capture your heart. It takes time to unravel his story and understand the relationship between himself and his overprotective younger brother, Brendan. As with Randy and James, each man fits into each others life like a puzzle piece finding its place and so it is for Pauly. He needs the steadiness and reliability of Randy and the blunt sexy confidence that is James for all of his emotional needs to be met. Randy is also easy to understand. He doesn’t think of himself as attractive or anything very special but in fact he is the anchor that holds the others at safe harbor. And finally there is James who appears so shallow to some of his friends that his nickname is “cheetos”, a quick snack that is never filling. Ouch. But while that hurts, James also understand where it comes from and upon meeting Pauly and Randy, James decides its time to change. TC Blue takes the time with each character and their backstories so that it becomes very apparent why the men are drawn to each other. I really enjoyed the way in which the author built the foundation for romantic love among all three protagonists.
But there are a few things to quibble about here. One is the character of Brendan, Pauly’s younger brother. I really liked that character but there were several explosive events here in which Brendan came apart emotionally that were never fully explained. One especially inferred abusive past but was then dropped and never brought up again. Brendan was seeing a psychiatrist but his background was only partially explained. More problematic was Pauly’s attitude towards the last emotional “explosion”. Instead of investigating and asking Brendan questions, Pauly lets his brother go off, and hide behind closed doors while he heads off with James and Randy. That never made much sense to me as did other things about their relationship. It remained an irritant throughout the story especially as I came to be invested in Brendan.
The other quibble is much smaller and that was the format. It starts in the present as the group of friends are at a party. Pauly tells the story of their relationship as a flashback. When the story concludes, we are back at the party as Pauly finishes his tale. I just found that a little cutsy and unnecessary as you already have a lovely story. It didn’t need that embellishment. Other than those quibbles, this is a great addition to a lovely series. You really can’t go wrong here but while they can be read as stand alone stories, it helps to read them in order to get a better idea of all the characters in the circle of friends.
Other books written by TC Blue in the Fruit Basket series include:
Lemon Yellow: Making Lemonade (Grey and Evan’s story) Book 1
Lime Green: Margarita Mondays (Jeremy and Troy) Book 2
Mandarin Orange: Sweet and Sour (Riley and Kelly) Book 3
Guava Red:Almost Paradise (Bastian and Chase) Book 4
Berry Blue: Lessons Learned (Peter Jamison and Dex’s story) Book 5
Concord Grape: Unexpected (Pauly, Randy, and James) m/m/m Book 6
Cover: I like the idea of the same type of cover for all the books, just changing out the background cover. But since the unexpected is a threesome, shouldn’t the outline of three men be a little more clear? I almost missed the third as it is hidden behind the rainbow border.