I was warned a few times before I was offered an advanced copy of this book that this was not the typical “MMM” story like most of those I’d read previously in the genre. Since I am all about unexpected stories, especially those that push at genre tropes, I still jumped at the chance to read this one. This story, which features an evolving polyamorous relationship and an asexual character, felt like a much more realistic representation of a nontraditional romance. Some readers won’t love it, and that’s okay—this sweet and well-written book will have no trouble finding its fans.
I don’t normally love the overblown theatrics of romance arcs featuring college students, but I have faith in Davison’s writing, and here she strikes an excellent balance of characters finding their true selves without unnecessary angst. Emory, Auggie, and Casey are all exceedingly cute, which is perfectly on-brand for Davison, and it’s easy to see from the beginning how they’ll fall into place together. The interesting part is always the journey of getting there. Emory’s initial dynamics with both other men are genre classics: virgin nerd + experienced slacker and pining for the “straight” jock best friend. Having both story arcs at the same time, while throwing in a developing genuine friendship between the slacker and the jock, is such a fun twist. Along the way, the story features a good examination of the differences and intersections between sexual and romantic attraction without ever subjecting the reader to the idea that there’s only one real way to experience either. I loved how these characters muddled through while figuring it out, especially while always giving consideration to developing identities and emotions without being overwrought about either.
The interwoven relationship arcs make for a delicious slow burn that is entirely appropriate to the character development. Auggie’s switch from casual player to his intentional pursuit of Emory felt a bit abrupt at first, but it was easy to roll with it once he made his dedication clear. At the same time, Auggie faced the most dramatic external conflict issues, which I felt were resolved well and with the same level of emotion and care as the rest of the story. These characters are so young that a formal “happily ever after” feels like a stretch, but I enjoyed them so much as a whole that I can’t help but hope they make it. Davison includes an epilogue with an extended glimpse into the future that does feel relatively realistic for anyone who does meet their person (or in this case, people) while still in college.
The concept of compersion (experiencing happiness as your partner finds joy/pleasure in another person) is never explicitly discussed in this text. Though this novel might be nontraditional in various ways to other poly stories in the MM romance genre, the compersion that fairly drips from each of these men makes it a joy to read. I hope interested readers give it a chance both because and despite the fact that it bucks the trends.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.