This post includes reviews of the books in the Secrets in Edgewood series:

  • A Taste of Sin (#1)
  • The Cost of Desire (#2)
  • A Love Made Whole (#3)

A Taste of Sin (Book 1)

I admit that I first tried to read this book a few months ago and only made it about a quarter of the way through. As much as I love Hawthorne’s writing, I had no patience for two men agonizing over the limitations of religion. This reaction is entirely due to the personal bias I bring to this topic rather than anything I found “wrong” with the book.

However, I do adore Hawthorne’s writing, so I knew it was only a matter of time before I gave this story another shot. I picked up where I left off before, and I only needed another chapter or so before the turning point of the angst between Reed and Nic drew me in completely. The dynamic that developed between these two men fascinated me. While I might have enjoyed a little bit more on-page discussion about it, Hawthorne does an excellent job of centering the focus on the relationship rather than any trappings of kink that end up developing naturally.

It would have been so easy for Hawthorne to also center the external plot on the aforementioned religious drama. Instead, she takes the story deeper by relating it to the characters’ shared history and highlighting the steps they take to break free of the constraints placed on them by the outside world. (That’s all very nonspecific, but I’d prefer to err on the side of avoiding spoilers.) As usual, Hawthorne balances heat and feels in a delicious package that I’m so pleased I returned to and gave a second chance.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

The Cost of Desire (Book 2)

This book starts with an office hook-up of a relatively “forbidden” nature – young adult with dad’s business partner – and evolves into an incredibly sweet nontraditional romance. Of course, sweet is relative when most of the book is packed with angst and kink, but that’s what you sign up for with a Hawthorne book. In this case, Danny and Jordan are probably the most surprised of anyone by the depth of their connection. The usual minor drama is expected when the relationship is long-distance and involves a significant age-gap element. Still, I appreciated Danny’s commitment to Jordan and the work Jordan does to both be worthy of that commitment and never take advantage of it.

The relationship depicted here does involve a significant power dynamic element, but even though Danny calls Jordan “Daddy,” this is not a Daddy kink story. However, that title sets up the drama of the climactic reveal, which Hawthorne handles in a way that is true to the story and completely surprising for the reader in terms of how Danny’s parents react to their son’s relationship.

The adorable “subplot” of the relationship that develops between Danny’s best friend and roommate perfectly breaks the heaviness of the inherent angst of a long-distance relationship. Though I often have no patience for college-age characters, Jordan and his self-awareness are a terrific foil that made reading this book less frustrating than it might have otherwise been. It’s easy to see echoes of this book in Reckless, a later book by Hawthorne, and so this book is definitely worth the read to appreciate how the author continues to develop as an amazing writer.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

A Love Made Whole (Book 3)

One of the reasons I enjoy reading poly romances is that you get exponentially more relationships per story for the same low price! Hawthorne thoroughly capitalizes on that theme here, giving us the two very different dynamics that Emory has with Graham and Calvin, the drama of Graham and Calvin’s estrangement, and how all three of them work as a complete unit. I especially loved that fate has a hand in bringing these three characters together rather than the more typical “two plus one” of menage romances.

Even better, Emory does nothing to “fix” the relationship between Graham and Calvin. Instead, the husbands grow as characters due to their connections with Emory, and caring for their new lover in a time of need allows them to connect in a way that was never possible before.

Hawthorne does take the time to acknowledge many of the typical angst-inducing elements that can result from a poly dynamic while also doing what she does best as a writer: subverting tropes to create brand new relationships you can’t help but cheer for as a reader. As a result, the end of these characters’ journey is a complete surprise, but also one that you look back on and can’t imagine any other way.

While this trilogy is not my favorite set of works by Hawthorne, I have no regrets that I finally read these books. This author has more than solidified her spot as a “buy and read immediately” name for me, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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