Loose Id, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-409-1
Fantasy Erotica, 2007
This review originally appeared on The Naughty Bits, which is sadly no longer around. It’s now here with Teddypig’s permission.
Sometimes telling a good story is not so much about what you write about but what you choose not to write about. Especially when it comes to ménage romance and issues concerning sexuality and who is doing whom and why. Treva Harte just seems to me to stand out from the pack. I love her Alpha series but as many people have pointed out to me again and again Home is the best of the bunch and I have to agree.
None of Treva’s characters in this series strike me as necessarily in control but they are not all innocent victims either. In fact I would say they seem, both the men and the women, more likely to be in a barroom brawl than a romance at any given moment. They are raw and they are who they are with no excuses. I like that.
Treva refuses to label anyone one thing or the other sexually throughout the whole series and it really shows in Home. Sure you as the reader can figure out who they love. It is not that the characters are unsure of their sexuality just that they do not waste time worrying about it. It comes across to me at least as feeling somewhat raw and abrupt but also organic in the way it gets presented. No pages and pages of characters angsting over whom they are attracted to or why. No “Gay for you”, no “Straight for you”, no mitigating circumstances in sight. I find this refreshing.
Now in regards to this being a ménage romance I do find similarities with Samantha Kane’s The Courage to Love.
There is a charismatic focus amongst the three lovers. In The Courage to Love it was Jason who had the title, money, and the need to wed and have kids along with a best buddy who he had deeper feelings for. Here in Home the main focus is Rome who is the lone wolf, the outcast alpha, the wild card, and someone who both Grey and Mia are sexually interested in. Treva twists the Alpha role here by making Rome younger and more unsure of himself and his role in the ménage thus giving Grey a chance even as a beta of contributing age and experience and stability to the threesome.
We also see the similarity where even though Rome has in the past made a move to seduce Grey he was rebuffed and he in turn rebuffed Mia ultimately making the romance story told here about discovering their mutual desires and forming some type of trust in order to be a “balanced” ménage. So there is no real pre-existing relationship in the way of us enjoying what does happen in the process of building a relationship that involves all three of them.
So “clarity” is in the rather blunt acceptance they have of their sexuality. “Balance” comes from Rome being a young charismatic yet inexperienced alpha which allows them all to contribute something to the ménage.
What is left is “benefit” and that mostly comes from outside the threesome. Both of their packs benefit from these three mating and having children. Treva again twists the reasons here to give a “making it work” for the good of everyone else feel to the story. This also provides the internal problems each member has to forming a relationship that will involve kids and why they are participating.
Grade A example Treva on how writing any type of romance even a ménage does not mean having to provide full explanations for every character’s motivations. Some people may be turned off on how raw this comes across as since there is no couching “emo” moments but I say mapping it all out for pages upon pages of boring pointless emotionally reasoned drivel will kick me out of a story quicker than adding a glossary or footnotes. Treva did far more to convince me this whole thing could work by carefully orchestrating around providing obvious compensating benefits that did not need such explanation to begin with.
Even when bisexuality shows up in a romance the story does not have to suddenly stop and bore me to death with pop psychology gimmicks or half-assed teary eyed excuses. If I wanted a fucking “after school special” I would be reading dead tree publishers not ePublishers.
When in doubt just throw it out and tell me the damn story you want to tell. Thanks Treva, the queen of show, not tell!