Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Psychologist Victor Mascari and his partner, spa-owner Derek Jameson, have been together eight years, but their relationship is still evolving. Derek distrusts monogamy because of his parents’ messy divorce, but as marriage equality advances, Victor’s doubts about their open relationship are growing. He doesn’t necessarily want a legal union, but he’s increasingly concerned about how others view them.
When Victor comes home to find Derek with another new conquest, he’s annoyed… at first. As he gets to know Antonio, Victor discovers the young man is intelligent, self-assured, and charming. This time, it’s Victor who is intrigued by someone else and Derek who thinks Victor’s interest is crossing the lines they’ve agreed on. If Victor wants to keep Derek, he’ll have to let Antonio go.
But Antonio is in real trouble and has nowhere to turn. Victor and Derek take him in, and it soon becomes clear how well he fits into their lives and how strong the bonds between all of them are growing. A committed relationship between three men—all very different in age and background—is enough of a challenge, and then the horrifying secrets of Antonio’s abusive past emerge.
I honestly did not expect to enjoy this story as much as I did. Open relationship? Ménage? The blurb intrigued me, however, and I’m so happy I took the plunge. What the blurb doesn’t tell us is that Antonio leaves shortly after he and Victor get to meet and talk for a while, and part of Victor’s intrigue with Antonio is his feeling that Antonio was hiding too many personal details, over and above the fact that he ate breakfast as if he was starving, and his clothes were worn beyond what’s considered fashionable. When he happens to meet him once again, he arranges to treat the young man to lunch.
When Victor’s partner, Derek, a gorgeous, tall, muscular black man finds out, he blows his top. He feels as if Victor went behind his back and arranged a date. And that’s totally unlike Victor, the forty-something, slender, self-effacing psychologist. There are so many starts and stops and complications between Victor and Derek about Antonio that even his name begins to drive a wedge between them—all this without Victor ever even taking Antonio to bed. And Antonio has disappeared anyway, so why the continued strife, Victor wonders. But all of that drama added to the three-dimensional character-building the author put together so that we become as entangled in this story as the characters are.
As it turns out, there’s so much more to Antonio than either man knew, and his background turns out to be positively heartbreaking. He’s also linked to one of Victor’s patients, and his hoped-for relationship with Antonio, whether real or platonic, will definitely cause Victor trouble with his professional ethics.
Once they have found Antonio, reconciled their differences about him, and brought him under their wing, rather than finding peace, the intrigue surrounding Antonio follows him, and not just from outside sources—Derek’s mother comes into play at this point in the story when she happens to drop by and “catch” Victor with Antonio. Unfortunately, she not only never accepted Derek as gay, she never supported his eight-year relationship with Victor—primarily because Victor was both older and white. Her character is very reminiscent of a Bible-thumping wicked witch, and she positively reels when she finds out from Derek just why the “boy” was brought into their home. Her prejudices know no bounds, and she’s possibly one of the best/worst examples of a nasty mother I’ve read.
In the early stages of the story, I found myself aggravated as I read—first by Derek and then by Victor. I wanted them to find some common sense and just get going, but around the 40% mark, I realized I was so caught up in the story and the drama surrounding Anthony that I couldn’t put the book down, and I stayed up late one night just to get to the conclusion. It was very, very good, and I recommend it to all my fellow MM romance lovers.
The drawn cover by Paul Richmond isn’t very appealing, mostly due to the colors used, but it does closely represent the three characters who ultimately form a strong ménage relationship in this story.
ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634775376 (ISBN13: 9781634775373)