Liquid Silver Books, $5.25, ISBN 978-1-59578-419-3
Fantasy Romance, 2008
I believe “ménage à quad” is the correct term to use to describe the relationship in Celia Kyle’s Battered Not Broken since it has three men (triplets, mind you) and a woman. No?
Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I personally can’t imagine what it will be like having to marry and service three men in a ménage. After doing the housework, taking care of the kids, answering awkward questions from their teachers about the presence of three daddies in the household, and cleaning up after the pets, the last thing I am looking forward to is to service three horny men in one night were I the heroine. But maybe that’s just me. I can be a killjoy and a spoilsport in such a manner.
Our heroine Gillian Locke has had enough of her psychotic abusive now ex-boyfriend Kyle so she takes off in her car to get far, far away from that villain. Alas, the car breaks down in the wilderness and poor Gillian quickly realizes that she is not an outdoor person. Stumbling upon a cabin in the middle of nowhere, she pulls a Goldilocks on one of the three beds in the empty cabin. When she wakes up, she finds her three bears in the form of the naked Bearclaw brothers. No, really, I’m not making this up. They may be Anikota Indians, but for some reason their names are Ronan, Conner, and Max. Needless to say, they are shapeshifting bears and they are actually quite happy to have a woman around to play with. It could be worse. Poor Gillian could have woken up in a different fairy tale, say one with seven shapeshifting dwarven werepigs.
Still, Battered Not Broken is actually a very enjoyable story. I simply adore the fact that the three brothers have different personalities so they are actually separate characters instead of one fellow split into three. I don’t think I buy the fact that Gillian is in love with any of the Bearclaw brothers, much less all three of them, since this is a novella-length story and therefore the relationship development can only go so far, but still, good for her for enjoying herself with the three guys. Besides, Conner cleans up the house so it’s not as if she’ll be the only one doing all the housework so she may be fine in the long run after all. The characters are all likable and inoffensive sorts. They aren’t the most well-developed ones around, but as I’ve mentioned, this is a novella so there are some limitations to be expected from it.
The werebear culture here goes a long way in explaining the ménage à quad arrangement, but still, I have a feeling that even if the three guys are normal humans, I would still buy the arrangement. Okay, maybe not, but I’ll still be having fun with the story nonetheless.