Why did I go on such a binge? Well, for an erotic romance involving a triad or a threesome to really work great sex between all three partners, although a top requirement, is not the only aspect of the story that I take into consideration. For me, there has to be a balanced emotional connection between the three partners involved in the relationship. Conveying that balanced connection is tricky and I find that not all authors can get close to achieving it. It has been a while since I've read erotic romances involving threesomes and after reading Tart and finding it somewhat lacking in the balance department, I decided to search, compare and see if this is even a real possibility or just wishful thinking on my part. I chose new-to-me writers instead of my old favorites for my search.
In this erotic triad romance Jules is the center with both Cal and Gideon playing her adoring men. That aspect of the book is well done, as is the initial romance between Gideon and Jules and later the development of the relationship between Cal and Jules. The men are both bisexual, a fact that initially becomes a problem for Jules, and in this threesome they do become sexually involved from the beginning. There are some good sexual moments between the men, as well as between all three, no question about it.
Here is where my problem begins, there is a lack of balance when it comes to the emotional connections. Even with the bisexuality introduced into the relationship, this romance is all about Jules. Cal and Gideon connect sexually, but did they love each other? They say they do a few times, but I didn't really feel the love between them. Both men repeatedly say that neither can live without Jules, but can they live without each other? That never comes up, so yes... I most sincerely think they can live without each other and to me that negates the idea of a true romance between three people. There is sex, but NO romance between Cal and Gideon. None.
My other niggle with this book is that I think one of its strengths is also a weakness. The dialog and atmosphere are fluffy, light, and very contemporary. On the one hand this works because it gives the book a fresh, young contemporary feel that I really like and enjoy. However, that same light, fluffy style doesn't work at all when the need for a mature decision arises. Example: When the three people involved make the decision to be together, Gideon's proposal comes off as superficial to say the least, and later Jules jumps into their first sexual ride while still having major trust issues about Cal's bisexuality. Additionally as to the dialog, a pet peeve that might not bug others: there are phrases such as the following one throughout the book, "[...}good looking one so he would be well versed in bullshit as they tended to be. But he wasn't phoning it in with her." (meaning he wasn't being a phony or insincere). Sorry if this phrase is supposed to be "kewll and all that," but I couldn't help but cringe.
Overall Tart ended up being a C+ read for me and that's because despite my reservations, both male/female relationships are well done, the characters extremely likable, the fun, fluffy moments enjoyable, and I like how Jules finally resolves her family situation.
During my quest, while searching for that balance, I read four other erotic romances involving triads. My initial idea was to do one post with all five reads as minis, while comparing them to each other, but in the end because I'm basing my comparisons to Tart I decided to post a longer review for this book. So, expect Part II of this post in the near future. :)
What do you look for when reading an erotic romance involving a triad or threesome? Do you prefer M/M/F or M/F/M? And, in this type of read, do you think that the emotional and romantic connection should be as important as the physical and sexual hotness?