Sometimes there’s a limit to how many genre tropes you can cram into one book. However, there’s a difference between “too many” and “just enough combined in the right way.” Neuhold and Monroe strike the perfect balance in this book with three unique and compelling characters who also balance each other in the best way. On their own, Bowen and Hawthorne probably would have never moved from best friends to something more. But even if they had, a story between just these two men might have been a bit too predictable to be enjoyable, following the standard best friends-to-lovers and bi-awakening story lines. However, the inclusion of Aldis in their dynamic and the perfect timing of a new phase in Hawthorne’s romantic life allow the three men to explore potential possibilities that make each of their lives better and fuller.
One aspect of this book that I particularly enjoyed is that it is a low angst story but not without plenty of conflicts, another excellent balancing act by these authors. It might have been a different story if the characters were younger. Instead, I found it refreshing to read about men solidly in middle age, professionals in their own rights, who understand the importance of communication and other elements of healthy relationships. Time is also spent developing solid friendships between each of the “newer” pairings (Bown and Aldis/Hawthorne and Aldis), another important element to any polyamory relationship story.
I’d happily read additional outtakes and future epilogues featuring Bowen, Hawthorne, and Aldis, but this book ends on a solid happily ever after with no need for a sequel. I’ve enjoyed other books by both of these authors, and I’d definitely move other co-writing projects by them to the top of my to-be-read pile.