Grade-A Beefcakes, Book 1
Heat Factor: Two dicks for the price of one!
Character Chemistry: She is The One. Our boners tell us so.
Plot: Calling it a plot is a stretch.
Overall: This is an erotic romance about two men who share a woman, and leave the curtains open as they do the deed in the living room.
Vale sets herself up for a challenge here. Basically: how do you write a convincing possessive alpha male who once he marks his woman, will never again share her with another man – except for his BFF, who is part of the deal from the get-go? I wouldn’t say she necessarily succeeds in writing a believable dynamic between our duo of dudes and the woman they desire. But the sex is hot, so it depends on what you’re looking for in your next dose of smut.
NOTE: I will be quoting from the book here, and the language is pretty graphic. Not only does the threesome have some sexytimes, they spend a lot of the book thinking about sexytimes (both generally and specifically). If you don’t want to read about portions of human anatomy rubbing together in various ways, maybe skip this review.
Ok, let’s start with the alpha male dilemma. The premise here is that Duke and Jed have been best friends since they were five. Now they are grown ass men, and are still sticking to a pact they made in 7th grade:
Me, I was going to find a woman with Jed. We’d ruin her for all other men, mark her with our cum and make her ours. Yeah, mine and Jed’s. We’d shared everything since we were five. Claiming a woman together just made complete sense.
I read that, and was like “Good God! Who sticks to a pact they made about their sex lives when they were twelve!” However, based on how much they talk about watching their cum mix together on the woman who is The One, and how hot it’s going to be, I guess really they’re just lucky that they have a common turn on and were able to find it so early. Anyways, here’s how they talk about the relationship they will have to their woman:
Duke and I would share her. No one else. The thought of any guy seeing her gorgeous body, even her fucking panties, made me want to poke their eyes out.
This tension of the possessive alpha male who shares very very selectively just… didn’t work for me. Every time I read a passage like the one I just quoted, I couldn’t help but feel skeptical about this relationship was actually going to work, in the nitty-gritty day-to-day sense of things. Like: they want to get married and have kids with this woman (“I was looking for commitment. Long term. Picket fences and all that. To settle down with the perfect woman, the perfect pussy and never look back.”) (Please Note: I’ll come back to the comment about “the perfect pussy.”), but… who will legally marry her? I’m pretty sure bigamy is still illegal. Who will have custody of the kids? Obviously, there are polyamorous families out there who have worked this out, but I see no evidence that Duke and Jed have thought about these kinds of issues. And on a more basic level – if you are both Super Alphas, who gets first dibs at the end of the day?
The answer to that final question seems to be: Duke. This relationship is ostensibly an equal partnership between Duke and Jed, but Jed is much less well-developed as a character, and frankly seems like an afterthought. Kaitlyn, the heroine, will fantasize about Duke, and then be like, “Oh yeah, and Jed was super hot too.” Duke always gets Kaitlyn off first. And when Duke makes a supreme ass of himself over some family history that is in no way Kaitlyn’s fault, it isn’t Jed who talks him down and tells him that he was a jerk – it is Duke’s brothers who do so. (I mean, props for Vale showing adult men having a real conversation about relationships and emotion, but this was a missed opportunity to actually show the relationship between Duke and Jed, beyond just talking about the fact that it was thirty years strong.)
It is also important to note that both men are only interested in sexual activities with women. They may both touch her, both watch her getting off, and even simultaneously penetrate her, but they are definitely definitely definitely not gay. (As Justin Timberlake has taught us, it’s not gay if it’s in a three-way.) We know this because the opening scene involves male strippers and repeated references to eye- and brain-bleach. The cowboys protest too much, methinks, but at least they are very open about being poly.
As promised, I also want to address the fact that Duke and Jed frame their hunt for The One in terms of finding the “perfect pussy.” Amazingly, the men focus in on The One (her name is Kaitlyn, let’s call her by her name now) and both know that she is It within seconds of seeing her, because they are that in tune with each others’ desires. The three of them then go and have some anonymous fun in the back room of a bar, and it is everything that anyone could have hoped for. And based on this one evening, and how sexually responsive everyone is, all three of them decide that clearly, the next step is commitment to a threesome for the rest of their lives. Kaitlyn, like Duke and Jed, seems uninterested in logistics or the social status of joining a long-term triad – even though the “conflict” in the story stems from her perceived social status as the daughter of the town drunk, so she knows first-hand that small towns can be closed-minded. I CALL SHENANIGANS!
Look, I get that this is a fantasy, and that some smut leans more heavily into the fantasy wish-fulfillment than others do, but this was too much for me. If you want to write straight up erotica, that’s cool, but couching it in terms of the perfect HEA where conflicts will no longer happen because The Men in Your Life will now take care of you is supreme bullshit.
If you want to read some M/M/F action and not think about logistics or anything besides sexy sexy alpha men bringing lots of pleasure to a lucky woman, then this book ticks the boxes. If you want to read a thoughtful exploration of what it might mean to maintain a polyamorous triad that also includes some excellent sexytimes, I suggest She Whom I Love.
Smut Report Readers: Other suggestions of thoughtful menage books I should check out?
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