Why I read it: My favourite book in this series is Laid Bare – where this threesome got together so it was a no brainer that I was going to pick this one up.
Warning: Series spoilers ahoy.
What it’s about:
(from Goodreads) All she needed to pack was a few bikinis, a toothbrush and some sunscreen. This is what Ben told Erin when he presented her and Todd with tickets to Fiji and the promise of ten days of nothing but sleeping until whenever they wanted, sex without having to lock the door and lots of alone time.
And that’s what they have. Long days and nights filled with pleasure. Long enough that the stress and exhaustion drops away and the three can simply enjoy each other.
They’ve got heat. More than ever before. Recharging their batteries has also brought new levels of intimacy and connection. But when Erin stumbles over the pain of her past, both men band together to not only help her through, but to help each other as well.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): When I read Laid Bare, I loved how the relationship between Todd and Ben developed – from being best friends to being lovers too. By the end of Laid Bare, they had started making out and I believe there was even a BJ scene. I know from the subsequent books in the series that they were together and happy and had had a baby boy (Alexander) together (deliberately choosing not to identify the biological father). Erin and Todd are legally married and Todd is Alexander’s legal father however. And, one of the things which always struck me about the triad, even though their relationship was developing, was that the centre was Erin. By the end of Laid Bare, I wondered if Ben and Todd would stay together if Erin was out of the picture for some reason and I thought, probably not.
I should probably talk about the novella now…
Laid Open is a novella featuring this threesome and I was hoping to see that the relationship between Todd and Ben had developed further and that their relationship was more “equal” (in terms of emotions). And, I got it. Sort of.
But. The second paragraph of the story is:
“His entire life was right there and it filled him with joy.”
‘Right there’ was Erin and Alexander – Todd wasn’t home yet. It’s possible I put too much emphasis on that as I read the book, but hey, it was on the first page. When Todd does go home, Erin and Ben both get some alone time to greet him “properly” and it is clear that Ben and Todd’s relationship has indeed progressed. They are more physically comfortable with each other and, as becomes apparent later in the book (in delicious detail), their sexual comfort zone has also extended.
The trio go on a lovely holiday to Fiji to have some alone time together, without the pressure of work and without (the delightfuly distraction of) Alexander (who stays with Brody). Then we have lots of lovely sex between Erin and Todd, Erin and Ben, Ben and Todd and all three of them together.
About 2/3 through I was thinking, ‘well this is nice and all but where’s the conflict?’ – and right then, Erin’s demons about the death of her daughter Adele come back to bite her. I had mixed feelings about this. First, I absolutely get that such a tremendous loss can and will surge from time to time and sometimes, with unexpected viciousness. It’s not something Erin will ever “get over” – it’s something she had learned to live with but it doesn’t mean it won’t bite her in the ass from time to time. And I’d never judge the way someone grieves – there is no timetable. I get that. What jarred me was Erin’s over-reaction to not realising the date at first. I say over-reaction because as is clear from the text, she had actually forgotten nothing and had prepared (prior to holidaying) for the date. What she was actually beating herself up for felt like an excuse for conflict in the story rather than real. I’ll say it again – her being upset over the anniversary of her daughter’s death was completely understandable. Absolutely. But, something about the way it was expressed in the story felt manufactured.
Erin needs a little alone time and Todd and Ben try to plan how to help her. It is Ben who urges Todd to hold back a little. He uses as his example, how he feels left out sometimes – he’s not legally married to Erin and he’s not on Alexander’s birth certificate. He doesn’t have an acknowledged place in their relationship according to the wider world. And sometimes, it bothers him. Now this. This was a real conflict. I could happily have read more about this. For me, that was the natural conflict in the story that was left basically unresolved. Todd gives Ben some reassurance but that’s about it.
The chemistry the trio has is off the charts and I like the way they are together. I believe that they are all happy in their relationship together and short of Erin’s death (which I do not wish for), they will all be together for the long haul. But, if something happened to Erin, would Todd and Ben say together and raise Alexander as a couple? I have no doubt that if something happened to either of the men, Erin and whoever survived would grieve, but they’d stay together as a couple. I guess my sense of equality (? balance?) is somehow bothered by this discrepancy – which is ridiculous but there you go. Still, I did feel that the balance had increased in their relationship as compared to the first book, so there’s that.
In many ways for me, this book was a bit of a stroke-fest. The part where Erin loses it seemed a bit obviously hurt/comfort
and somewhat forced but I can’t say that it was a hardship to watch these 3 scorch the sheets.