Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Private investigators and partners of over 14 years, Zachary>>>>> and Archer Wilde have been happy together or at least Zachary thought so. Both were well known Master Doms when they met all those years ago, and it took Archer every bit of three years to woo Zachary and get him to submit. From there on, they were inseparable, as lovers and owners of one of the most popular and exclusive BDSM clubs. Then they sold the club, settling into a life of semi retirement as partners of a discreet recovery business with Archer taking only those cases that interested him and leaving Zachary’s life as a Dom in the past. But all that is about to change….
Archer is finding that their successful recover business is taking up too much of Zachary’s time, so Archer buys a personal assistant for Zachary, the submissive Jeremiah, thinking that will make his lover happy. It doesn’t. With their delicate balance upset, the men must still investigate the case of the missing insurance millions while trying to deal with each other and the addition of a third. Can the three men pull together to become a triple threat or will Jeremiah tear Zachary and Archer apart for good?
Triple Threat and its series are a part of the Pulp Friction offerings from authors Havan Fellows, L.E. Harner, Lee Brazil and T.A. Webb that feature a loose circle of friends and acquaintances. And as with the other series, Triple Threat is turning out to be just as terrific and substantial an offering as the rest of the stories.
It also marks a sort of departure for me as m/m/m and D/s are not the normal stories I reach out for when looking for reading material. But L.E. Harner does a remarkable job in not only creating characters one can relate to, she also makes the D/s BDSM lifestyle accessible and understandable to those unfamiliar with that life choice and sexual kink. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the relationships that develop within the story as well as those that were already established and I think others will too. The ease with which I connected with these characters and their situation is due primary to the wonderful writing style and character creations of L.E. Harner.
First, the characters. The pov is that of Zachary, Master Dom and submissive lover of Archer Wilde, a wealthy, brilliant man who also happens to be a Master Dom as well. Zachary’s voice is everything I have come to expect of the narrators in the Pulp Friction series. It is the wry, self depreciating, older voice of a man who has seen and done it all and come out the other side surprisingly content. At least that is the man we meet at the start of the story. A man whose continued calm, happy lifestyle is about to be upended. I love Zachary. As with all the characters found within, he is a man of many layers. Here is our first taste of Zachary and Archer:
“Margaret Blackwell,” I murmured as I led the impeccably clad young woman into the bright morning light of the glass ceilinged solarium. A small gasp escaped her lips as the tall, powerfully built man stood from the table where we’d been sharing a leisurely breakfast minutes before. He unfolded himself into his full height, and she sighed. I understood her sentiment completely.
“Miss Blackwell, may I present Archer Wilde.”
They met in the middle of the solarium, and Archer politely shook the limply proffered hand.
“Please, have a seat. Can Zachary bring you anything? Coffee? Hot tea?”
“No, thank you.” Margaret sat at the edge of the chair, her back ramrod straight and ankles demurely crossed. My, my. Someone attended cotillion as a teen.
“Zachary? Won’t you sit and join us?” Archer’s eyes sparkled with mischief and I couldn’t resist smiling back.
“No, thank you Archer, I think I’ll stand this morning.” We shared a look, then he turned his attention to his guest.
“How may I help you, Miss Blackwell?”
“I want you to find my husband, Mr. Wilde.”
“I see. I’m afraid there’s been some misunderstanding. I…we…”—he inclined his head to include me—“don’t take on missing persons cases. Those are best handled by the proper authorities.”
“I’m afraid that’s impossible. Nona Wilkerson says you are exactly what I need.”
“Ahh…the delightful Miss Wilkerson. You intrigue me. Is your husband in some sort of trouble?”
“My husband is dead, Mr. Wilde.”
Huh. That was a new one.
Just from that scene alone we understand not only who Zachary is but get a glimpse into their relationship as well. Zachary is the rough to Archer’s refinement and it works perfectly for them both. At least until now.
Just when we think we know who Zachary is, Harner surprises us with more information about his past that makes the reader reevaluate everything they thought they knew about the man and his motives. The twists and turns here are fabulous. That Zachary is both a Master Dom and a submissive would be contradictory except that he is only submissive for Archer. That fact is the key to understanding why Archer would upset the balance the two men have worked so hard to achieve for years. That plus the fact that Archer’s brilliance doesn’t always means he’s correct in his assumptions. Like every other character, Archer is full of flaws, he is human and therefore, will make more than his share of mistakes, especially in his relationship with Zachary.
Then Jeremiah arrives on the scene to Archer’s glee and Zachary’s dismay. This is a neat touch. It upsets an established couple of 15 years. It shows that Archer had not completely thought through his actions and makes Zachary deal with an aspect of his past he had pushed away. But of all the characters I had to work harder to understand Jeremiah. A submissive mindset is not one that I can relate to so Jeremiah took time to connect with. But again, Harner let’s us close to Jeremiah and his needs that it soon becomes clear that this is part of Jeremiah’s nature and he needs it to be whole. I like that we also see that Jeremiah is also young, highly intelligent and naive in some respects. It makes his submissive nature easier to connect with, especially as he becomes the third in an already established relationship.
The case of the missing insurance money also turned out to be more finely layered than I had anticipated. It turned out to involve someone from both Zachary and Archer’s past. It’s another terrific aspect of this story and the series as it has implications down the line for them all.
Are there scenes of BDSM? Yes and they are well done but not as explicit as you might think. So those of you are uncomfortable with the D/s element will still be able to enjoy the story. Same goes for the m/m/m aspect as well. It works here and you will come to care for all of these men, not just Zachary and Archer. Wick Templeton and Chance Dumont, or at least the Chances Are bar makes appearances. You will be as happy to see them as I was. Plus we get a few more details as to Wick’s background that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Triple Threat is the wonderful start to a great series. It surprised me and drew me right in. I think it will do the same for you. All the stories in this series and the Pulp Friction group are short in length but large in characterization and plot. Pick it up now, and settle in for a wonderful read.
Cover art by Laura E. Harner. It’s delicious and perfect for the book and series.
Published January 31st 2013 by Hot Corner Press (first published January 13th 2013)