I joke that I read polyamory romances because you get more relationships for the price of one, but the reality is that I truly enjoy the intricacies that can develop out of the traditional storyline arc when three (or more) people are involved. The general premise of this book was entirely novel to me, as my experience so far has mostly been with stories about relationships that are more closed, which just proves how important this story is to the representation of so many people’s actual reality. The specific way in which Grant comes into Blaise and Sawyer’s lives is a compelling bit of storytelling that had me hooked from the beginning, though I pretty immediately enjoyed all of the characters in their own right.
These characters growing closer despite the original intentions of their deceased partner makes for an interesting conflict that underpins the shared trauma of their grief. Denae deftly balances the respect the characters have for their former lover while honoring the that the healing process is different for everyone and that new connections can bloom because, or despite how, time moves on. I enjoyed that the new relationships that develop between these three men are not necessarily the same but still equal in importance, and I was also pleasantly surprised that the more “traditional” romance arc occurs between the two men I did not initially expect.
The overarching themes of this story that I hope will continue through the series mean that these characters don’t live in a vacuum. There’s an important emphasis on a found family of strong external friendships developed because of the polyam lifestyle, not despite it. I loved the quiet affection and support for all “branches” of the family, and though sometimes I felt like I needed a chart, the way they incorporated acknowledgment of the various connections in their lives felt completely natural.
Mental health representation is becoming more frequent in this genre as important character attributes rather than tropes or plot points. This book features excellent examples of characters with differing levels/types of anxiety, but what I appreciated even more was how Denae highlights the nuances that can also come from a character who loves and cares for those with mental health issues.
The progress of this story is as gentle as the title indicates but never dragged. No single dark moment occurs, just the ongoing real-life efforts of recovering from grief and building new relationships. I look forward to revisiting these characters as this series progresses, especially since the polyam elements mean I know I can look forward to being continuously and pleasantly surprised along the way.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.