This post includes reviews of the currently available books in the Trouble With Triads series:
- Spare Room (#1)
- Spare Parts (#2)
Spare Room (Book 1)
This story is surprisingly low-angst for how relatively dark things are at the beginning of the book for Alex, the man who first gave up Tristan and moved away only to return home with even less than he started. Tristan has moved on and is happy in his marriage with Ben, though they have had poly arrangements before and are open to doing so again. This discussion between Tristan and Ben is important because it occurs before Alex crashes back into their life—it made this book feel less like a love triangle in the making and more like the joining of three people who were meant to be together all along.
Are all three men (even Alex, in his own way) too sweet to be real? Sure, but this is romantic escapism at its finest, and I’m not mad about it. Denning does an excellent job of showing how perfect Tristan and Ben are together, showing how much potential still exists between Tristan and Alex, and then also creating a meaningful connection between Alex and Ben. These are all necessary for a balanced relationship, which made the happily ever after all the more believable for me (despite the afore-mentioned character perfection).
I look forward to reading the next two installments in this series. I have no idea whether the stories will be linked or complete stand-alone books, but Denning has never failed to deliver the heat and the feels. (In fact, this book included the potential for a lot more heat, and I would not be opposed to some deleted scenes if the author felt so inclined.)
Spare Parts (Book 2)
It would have been so easy for this book to be angsty as all get-out. Hunter has to come to terms with accepting his bisexuality. Killian carries plenty of trauma from his childhood. And Ari, the most sorted of these men on the surface, could have fallen harder into the trap of assuming that Hunter and Killian would be better off without him. However, Denning escapes the angst pit by making a significant character-building decision right off the bat. Hunter, Killian, and Ari are best friends who have stuck together for years through thick and thin. A little thing like succumbing to their explosive physical chemistry makes that bond stronger rather than threatening to tear it apart.
That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing since a book without conflict would be rather dull even when we are here for everyone to live happily ever after. Hunter does have to come out, and Killian does need to accept that his friends are capable of loving him without strings. Denning balances multiple characters expressing internal fears, sharing those fears, and helping each other overcome those fears with love, care, and the perfect amount of heat.
As a bonus, one of these three men is a bit of an outlier when it comes to reading queer romance. I appreciated this touch of realism in a genre known for skirting the edges in favor of steaminess. Denning does not lose a single iota of that steaminess in this book, despite the preferences of one of her characters.
This book can be read completely stand-alone from the previous book in this series. The way the triad structure develops is also completely different. However, I appreciate the symmetry of the author creating a trilogy around this concept and exploring the myriad ways in which people can find their happily ever after.