This post reviews each of the available books in the Us series:
- Here For Us (#1)
- Sound of Us (#2)
- Uniquely Us (#3)
- Heart of Us (#4)
Here For Us (Book 1)
This novel is a slow-burn romance between three very different men, and I don’t just refer to their disparate ages. It also includes their socioeconomic statuses, their personal histories, their mental health issues, and finally, how settled they are in their current situations and relationships. Cris and Jake show instant chemistry during a hookup, while Cris and Charles have developed a friendship tinged with romantic longing over nearly a decade.
Despite all three men being queer and the sex-positive aspects of their individual professions, they are still burdened by a certain amount of social traditionalism regarding how relationships are expected to be between two people. This causes all sorts of drama in which Cris is determined not to make either man feel like the second choice, but he is burdened by a secret he’s kept from Charles.
Jake, however, is the person who ultimately brings them all together in an unexpected turn of events. I appreciate that the support that Cris and Charles provide for him does not “fix” Jake, and in turn, there’s not an immediate “happily ever after” for these characters. This book ends on a solid “happily for now” without a cliffhanger, but I’m anxious to continue the story and follow these characters on their intertwined journey.
As a bonus, I already know that two secondary characters will be the heroes of their own story later in this series, and I can’t wait to see certain overlapped events from their perspectives.
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.
Sound of Us (Book 2)
I love series where the story doesn’t end with the relationship starting. I’m much more interested in the potential drama of personalities existing together after the blush of fresh romance has worn off. Three people instead of two provide even more opportunities for interesting conflict. As a dynamic so far out of my lived wheelhouse, I love reading different takes on the possibilities, especially between three characters as disparate as Jake, Cris, and Chet/Charles.
The primary plots, internal and external, of this story center on Jake and Cris. Jake’s issues are closer to home as he learns to manage his newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. Once again, the other two men in his relationship are not there as a way for the author to “fix” Jake’s mental illness, and I appreciate how Arthur treads the thin line of having them support Jake in a way that maintains his agency even though it would be so easy for them to smother the younger man with their care.
Further outside their contained circle is a lingering issue on Cris’ part, after he’s sworn to his partners that the lies are over. Cris may have no more secrets to keep, but that doesn’t stop problems from his former life from interfering with his potential happy ending. Again, Jake and Chet support Cris through a difficult time and acknowledge the issue of these secrets without hinging their love on it.
Ultimately, the three men grow closer and onto a more even keel, which is especially important due to the various unbalanced dynamics present at the beginning of this book. I have more faith after this book that their “happily for now” is, in fact, a “happily ever after.”
Through both of these conflicts, Charles’s age and experience are a feature rather than a bug, and while it seems he’s getting off fairly light in this book, I may have sneaked a glance at future blurbs in this series. Before that, however, it looks like we’ll finally get the full story of Charles’ nephew and Cris’ best friend, and even though we’re back to a binary relationship, I already know nothing about these characters will bore me.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.
Uniquely Us (Book 3)
Even though the first two books of this series focus on the triad of Cris, Jake, and Chet, characters should not exist in a vacuum. Arthur has developed two wonderful secondary characters in Chet’s nephew Dell and Cris’ best friend Taro. Hints in the previous books show a burgeoning relationship between Dell and Taro, so it was so much fun to see the full story play out in this installment of the series.
I’m not sure how well this book would work as a stand-alone since so many of the events of the first half of this book relate to plot matters from earlier in the series. It is interesting to see so much of it from Dell’s perspective, especially since he also lives in the house where the triad first forms.
It’s hard to make friends as an adult, and it makes sense that it’s even harder to make friends as adults with substance use and/or mental health issues. Dell and Taro find kindred souls in each other, and it’s lovely to see the tentative friendship grow before the emotions deepen further. Throughout this book, Dell also learns more about his particular sexuality and how nothing about him is “broken,” as he previously struggled with.
Due to where Taro and Dell lay on the sexual spectrum, this is a relatively low-heat story. However, the emotions certainly run high as secrets from both Dell and Taro’s pasts come to light, and the two men must reconcile how that information affects their relationship. However, this is still a love story, and it is delightful to see other members of the triad’s extended found family find their own happily ever after.
Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.
Heart of Us (Book 4)
This series conclusion ends on a lovely happily ever after for our favorite triad (and ace couple), but before that, there’s plenty of drama to go around. Chet and Dell return to their hometown to confront their past for the main plot arc, which is incredibly satisfying for Dell and causes even more new drama for Chet. Jake and Taro are left at home, which causes both external and internal conflict all on its own.
This book is meant to be read as the series finale rather than as a stand-alone novel. If you’ve stuck with it this far, you should have no problem balancing the multiple points of view and relationship dynamics. I was right in that Chet gets hit with the drama stick for this book, but that doesn’t stop Arthur from also getting Jake with some final jabs as well. Once again, communication is the name of the game for all the relationships in this book, which doesn’t necessarily always work out as well as it should.
Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying series that features nontraditional relationship dynamics and sexual orientations such as bisexuality and demi/asexuality that don’t get as much page time in romance novels as they should. This book also gets extra points for its overall positive depiction of sex work. I had a great time and fell in love with all five main characters, and I highly recommend this high-heat, high-drama, but overall medium-angst series to any readers looking forward to a series rabbit hole to go down.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.