Tag Archives: polyamorous relationship

23Aug/18

Drumbeat by A M Leibowitz

As the blurb suggests, there are some issues here that need delicate handling. Psychological abuse and eating disorders are not plot devices suitable for bandying around in the usual MM romance fare. As one with personal experience, it’s one thing guaranteed to p**s me off faster than a pube on a toilet seat, so I was just waiting, tensing myself for the moment when it all began to slide downhill.

Thank goodness then, for the author’s sensitive and balanced handling of the tough issues, without being all earnest, lurid (or worst, inaccurate) about it. This is a wonderful story of two men, each with complicated lives which don’t conform to what is generally construed as “normal,” who gradually find their way to each other despite several false starts and well-meaning but ultimately clueless friends.

There’s a lot of diverse representation here, with two polyamorous relationships, Jamie is deaf, Trevor is a big man so not your usual heartthrob in an MM romance (unless it’s specifically aimed at bears.) There are people of colour and ex-drag queens, yet it didn’t feel “topic of the month.” The focus was always on the dynamic between Jamie, Cian and the people around them, with all the awkwardness, bickering, love and support complicated families deal with every day. The book felt real, especially with regard to Jamie’s issues. The plot device with Jamie’s ex sounded the only iffy note as it was concluded, but that was easily forgiven because of how the eating disorder was dealt with. Sadly, I know a lot about eating disorders, and everything Jamie suffers from sounds authentic. Kudos to the author for handling it so well.

And it has to be said, the book is also entertaining, a great read with real tension and not an obvious way through for Cian and Jamie to resolve their issues and differences. The secondary characters were warm as well, yet not too perfect. Trevor, the one unwittingly playing havoc with Jamie’s emotions, is so well-drawn. We all know a Trevor, be he straight or gay or anywhere in-between. The delicacies of navigating a poly relationship are interesting as well, for people (like me) who cannot see how it works. I finished the book well-informed and with eyes opened just a little more, which is always a good thing.

BLURB

Jamie Cosgrove is doing his best to recover from a break-up after years with an abusive boyfriend. All his usual coping strategies have failed, and he’s fallen back on things that make him feel safe: drumming, food, and his friend Trevor. The trouble is, two of those are still secrets, even from those closest to him.

Cian Toomey has it all. He has loving relationships with his partners and a fulfilling, creative career. The one thing he’s missing is someone to go home to at night. When sudden changes occur at one of his jobs, he’s faced with a choice to find something new or move in with his partners in a different city.

Well-meaning but pushy friends seem to think Cian and Jamie are the answers to each other’s prayers. They couldn’t disagree more. A series of random events thrusts them into each other’s lives, and they find they have more in common than they thought. But when all of Jamie’s carefully constructed walls crumble at once, both of them will have to depend on the support of their friends and family to strengthen their fragile bond.

05Dec/16

Review – Unexpected Circumstances (Isthmus Alliance Vol. 3) by Sloan Johnson

sloan

Earlier in the Fall we had the pleasure of talking to Sloan Johnson, a prolific author who is not afraid to tackle challenging themes in her books. To find out more about Sloan and her work, listen to her fascinating episode, and hear her giving our hosts a run for their money! Episode 075: Sloan Johnson – How Far Can We Deviate?

REVIEW

Zeke, Jeff and Mary have enjoyed a casual three-way relationship until fate steps in and makes them evaluate whether what they are doing is just a bit of fun, or whether they are ready to settle down into a more serious relationship. Whilst they are trying to figure that out, the outside world seems determined to pull apart their unusual arrangement.

The plot is fairly straightforward. After Mary is attacked by the ex-boyfriend of her best friend, her dreadful mother arrives to look after her, and finds her daughter embroiled in what she sees as a very unsavoury situation. Meanwhile, Zeke is torn between wanting to settle with Mary and Jeff and doing his own thing. And Jeff, the steadying influence, is busy trying to keep everything together.

Recently I read a comment that most books concerning polyamorous relationships, especially those that are M/M/F,  are basically erotica and have no story-line, but this is not the case at all for Unexpected Circumstances. Yes, the sex is hot, but it isn’t over-stated. Each main character is fully realised, with their own personalities and foibles, so they don’t merge into one being. The secondary characters are also convincingly drawn, apart from Mary’s mother, an obvious boo-hiss character so horrendous she verged on caricature. Somewhat oddly, she was dismissed in an off-hand fashion half-way through the book. I say oddly because after such a strong start, she was tucked away in Florida, conveniently out of the way. One of my favourite minor characters was Holly, a complex girl with an abusive ex and a supportive boyfriend. The author nailed her character with pin-point accuracy and for me, she was the most memorable in a large cast of satellite characters, all with their own problems.

In the end, what seems to be a huge drama is a misunderstanding. There’s a lot of angst, redeemed by the serious look at the relationship of the three protagonists, and the issues and prejudices that their situation throws out. And there are a lot of issues. The two men have the same love for each other as they do for the woman in their life. One of them isn’t fully out yet, and there are implications to their careers, their friendships and family members. I would have liked to have known more about how Mary felt, what her insecurities were. We learned Zeke’s and Jeff’s, but felt a little short-changed by Mary’s experiences, other than learning that she was incredibly satisfied in bed.

This is a long book, and it could have been tightened up a bit without losing any of its impact. I found I was skimming in places, then going back to see if I had missed anything. I hate doing this as it takes me out of the story. The dialogue could have been sharper as well, and the emotions less over-wrought in places, but the characters were likeable and I enjoyed reading about their dilemma and how they were going to deal with it.

This is part of a series, and I haven’t read the other books, but fans of Sloan’s writing will lap up this chunky read. For newbies, it might be a little hard to digest in places, but there is no denying the love that the author has for her characters, even as she’s throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at them.