Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Art of Three by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

The Art of Three by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese
Contemporary romance published by Avian30 on March 28, 2017

The Art of Three 24-year-old Jamie Conway has just moved to London, is starring in his first feature film, and hasn’t yet figured out how to navigate fame, adulthood, or being bisexual in public.

When Jamie hooks up with his much older polyamorous costar Callum Griffith-Davies, he sets off a chain of delightful complications, including an unexpected affair with Callum’s no-nonsense wife, Nerea.

This Rainbow Awards-winning romance features three countries, two men, one woman, and absolutely no love triangles.

I read The Art of Three for the November #TBRChallenge and enjoyed it. It was a quick, relatively low angst read for me. They’re just so nice to each other and happy to be together! I’m a fan of MMF romances and when I heard about this book, I immediately put it in my TBR list. It’s not what I’m used to reading in a MMF / ménage / poly relationship story and I liked that!

This month’s #TBRChallenge theme is Sugar or Spice (closed door “just kisses” or super steamy!). I originally added this book to my TBR after seeing a recommendation on Goodreads or Twitter maybe. This ended up being an interesting book for this month’s theme. My brain goes immediately to “Spice” or erotic territory when it comes to sexy times in ménage stories. That’s not the case with this story. This is for sure fade-to-black / closed door. Let me repeat that—there are no explicit, detailed, lengthy sex scenes in this book! I definitely got the vibe they’re having a lot of sex but there aren’t paragraphs or pages describing the sex (maybe not even sentences?). I think it’s fascinating the authors were able to convey so much intimacy and physical connection without explicit sex scenes.

The relationship dynamic is also something I haven’t read before in a ménage / polyamorous story. I’m glad I can still find new-to-me elements in romance! Callum and Nerea are a well-established, loving couple who’ve been married for 20+ years with adult daughters. All I can remember reading before are stories where two out of three or everyone in the relationship are new to polyamory and much of the story focuses on everyone figuring things out and often screwing up spectacularly. Not so much here. Callum and Nerea have always had an open relationship and over the years worked hard to clearly communicate their needs, what they’re doing, etc. Although I think having the same lover is new for them. Jamie is much younger but mature and is new to polyamory. They all desperately want to make the relationship work, put in the effort, and while they do misstep a couple times, they come back together to talk it through. No one ever thinks they’re an un-needed “extra” or third wheel.

This also isn’t really a coming out story other than they have to figure out how “out” they’re going to be with each other and as a triad? throuple? in public. Callum is openly bisexual. Jamie is out to his family as bisexual. Nerea hasn’t really hidden her prior relationships. I only remember reading Nerea was with other men but I don’t think she states her preferences explicitly in the story.

I liked the pacing of the story, short chapters, and regular POV changes. The secondary characters are enjoyable as well although Callum, Jamie, and Nerea are definitely the stars of the story. I haven’t read these authors before and will absolutely be reading more of their books!

A quick heads-up—there is something that happens towards the end of the book that might not work for everyone. It didn’t really bother me since Nerea, Callum, and Jamie talked through it and I think it was clear the right person got to make the decision. However, I think there’s something said that unnecessarily influenced the decision. I’m trying not to give it away and am bungling the description but you’ll know it when you read it. Again, I wasn’t real mad about it but your mileage may vary.

Grade: B

You can buy a copy here.

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