My personal view of a true "triad" might have something to do with my opinion. I think it must include three romances: romances between each individual male and the female, plus a romance between the two males (not just sex). For me, if those romantic connections are not well established, then the relationship falls under the "threesome" category. Two men who love one woman and whose only connection is affection for each and that mutual love for her.
I decided to read a few other books to find out if there are any new reads that come close to my expectations. I dug deep into my TBR for some of the reads, purchased a couple, and except for Lauren Dane, all the authors are new-to-me.
I began by digging into my TBR pile and chose Destiny Calls by Samantha Wayland and got lucky on the first try. This book worked for me. First, it is a friends-to-triad romance where all three people involved are emotionally connected, in love, as well as sexually hot and bothered for each other. Not one person is more important than the other in this group, and that really hit the spot for me. The fact that the story is sizzling, smoking hot? Yeah... that also has a lot to do with my enjoyment of this book. Wayland gets a big plus for excellent sexual tension, as well as hot bedroom scenes between the men (I was surprised), and her male/female and male/male/female scenes are just as good and enjoyable to read. The story has a bit of angst, a lot of love, scorching bedroom scenes, and a police investigation in the middle of it all. This is more my idea of a triad with a few rough patches.
Patrick, Brandon, and Destiny were practically raised together by Patrick's aunt since they were children. They have always been best friends and understand each others' baggage. Patrick and Brandon are cops working together, and although Patrick is straight, Brandon is bisexual and has loved Patrick for years. Destiny carries some heavy personal baggage, and she and Patrick have been having an on and off sexual relationship through the years. They are about to get back together when as a gag Patrick kisses Brandon as a way to keep away a man harassing him at a gay bar. The kiss is a scorcher and Patrick goes on an emotional, crazed tailspin. Wayland doesn't just have Patrick come to a quick and easy realization that he wants Brandon, there is a real emotional and conflicting battle for him. I like that. It shouldn't be easy particularly when there is friendship and love already involved. Wayland balances the relationship between Brandon and Destiny well too, both the emotional connection and sexual attraction. She also confronts the outside world and how that will affect this type of relationship for all three. What is my niggle with this story then? Well, Destiny's internal conflict about the relationship comes to light late into the relationship so that her emotional angst seems neglected until then, and while the police investigation comes to a great conclusion, the mafia storyline seems superfluous . But overall Destiny Calls by Samantha Wayland was quite the great surprise. Grade: B/B+
Compared to Tart, this story conveys the emotional connection between the three people involved much better, it has more depth of character and works on the depth of the relationship, and the bedroom scenes between all three people (including MM scenes) are better detailed. Tart, however, begins with the three people wanting a committed long-term relationship, whereas Destiny Calls begins with the tired plot device of "let's have fun" first, and then works itself into a true relationship.
Since I enjoyed Wayland, I followed by purchasing and reading another triad story by Samantha Wayland, With Grace. It turns out that this story is linked to Destiny's Calls and it precedes that story. The mafia storyline that I mention above makes much more sense if this book is read first. This erotic triad is okay, but not engaging as is Destiny Calls. Wayland establishes an emotional connection between the three parties involved, however I think the timeline for developing this relationship is the problem for me here. One week seems too short a time for a serious relationship like this one to really take root or to be about more than just for sexual pleasure. There are some excellent, sexy MM scenes in this book, as well as MMF and MF, nobody gets left behind. And, although the emotions are there between the three people involved, I wish that this had been left open as in "a relationship in the making," instead of a happily ever after type of read. Grade: C-
Compared to Tart, these three people are better suited emotionally and the connection is well conveyed, however the timeline hinders development, and the three people involved jump into the relationship with equal alacrity.
Next during my triad marathon reading week, I picked up Brotherhood of Fire by Elizabeth Moore from my TBR. This novella turned out to be a threesome instead of a triad -- the two males are not involved sexually or romantically. Unfortunately, this book just did not work for me -- and it is not necessarily because the men are not involved. The central characters are married and the husband basically pushes his wife and best friend into a three-way situation to fulfill a personal sexual fantasy. He manipulates his wife until she agrees to it knowing that his best friend and colleague has feelings for his wife. Then the husband refuses to talk about the details or emotional fallout of the sexual relationship, he just wants the sex and damn the consequences! When both his wife and best friend fall in love and want a permanent, long term relationship involving the three of them, this man becomes possessive, jealous, and freaks out! This guy is a jerk, and even after things were worked out between all three, and as much as I liked the best friend, I'm afraid that I just could not like this man. My enjoyment was minimal even for a threesome. Grade: DThis story doesn't compare well to Tart because it is not a triad. However, they do share the alacrity with which the three people jump into the relationship and the lack of working out details beforehand or taking doubts and trust into consideration.
|Rule of Three
And the final book on this trip through triad erotic lands was Rule of Three by Kelly Jamieson. This book has one of the nicest, artsy covers of the bunch. Don't you think? But when it comes to the actual story, it was initially a mixed bag that ended up on the below average side. The sexual scenes are repetitive (this trio didn't have much imagination when it came to using the same positions over and over again), and another manipulative boyfriend with the "damn the emotional consequences" attitude is involved. There is angst and a bit of a soap opera feel to it, with denial on the boyfriend's part as to his feelings for his old time college buddy with whom he has been sharing women for years that ends up in a major jerkwad homophobic scene! And dramatic emotional outpouring and feelings of being used from the girlfriend once she finds out the college buddy loved her boyfriend before he loved her! Problem? The boyfriend Chris didn't give a damn about emotional consequences to either college buddy Dag or girlfriend Kassidy. He just wanted/needed the sexual pleasure and refused to talk about "feelings." They work things out including the lack of communication, but in the end I still think of Chris and Kassidy as a couple and Dag as a buddy with benefits, with that balance in the relationship on its way but not there yet. Grade: C-Although as in Tart, the three people in this book similarly jump into the relationship quickly and both share the lack of balance between the three, this book compares negatively to Tart. There is always respect between the three people involved in the relationship between Jules, Cal and Gideon. That is not always the case here. And this is beside the point... but of all five, Tart and Rule of Three have my favorite covers!
Conclusion: So how do these books compare to Tart by Lauren Dane? Destiny Calls by Samantha Wayland is the one book in this bunch that worked for me, and I think that's because the three people involved really loved each other and shared a true, strong friendship before they began the relationship -- that makes a huge difference. It gets a B for the romantic relationship and a B+ for the erotic scenes. None of the books I read had the "fluffy, contemporary" chick lit atmosphere found in Tart and that makes it unique among the bunch. In my comparisons above you can see how often the couples quickly jumped into lust-based or sexual relationships before working out details, or while entertaining doubts, or thinking of the emotional fallout, a similarity they share with Tart. However, except for the one book, all the others rated lower for me.
Balance? Emotional connection between three people plus hotness in the bedroom -- as I said at the beginning of Part I of this post, it is a tricky combination and not easily found in an erotic romance featuring three people. I know there are books out there that have it all! However, if you read all these minis you will see a definite set pattern in the story lines, so that reading too many and finding THE one can become a tough endeavor. On the other hand, I do love reading a good erotic romance with the right touch involving a triad or threesome, so I'm not yet prepared to give up my search.
One of my favorite triad stories is still Rough, Raw and Ready by Lorelei James, (review here). What about you? Who is your favorite trio? Do you have a favorite title that you would like to recommend? (I'm writing them down) ;P