Lauren Dane writes some of the most believable menage relationships that I have read. That is a very difficult thing to do because if you think of all the logistics of three people being together, well it would hard. Even though I like reading about it, I still don’t think it is something that would out too well in real life.. I also prefer a m/m/f menage over the normal m/f/m pairing that so many books feature. Ms. Dane is one of the few authors that consistently gives me the believable m/m/f menage, like Laid Bare or Captivated so when I saw the blurb for Tart I was pretty happy.
Juliet Lamprey was originally introduced in the Cherished anthology. She owns a pastry shop and shares the space with two close friends. When Gideon Carter comes back into town to help out with his grandfather’s farm there are instant sparks between the two of them. Juliet and Gideon quickly become serious.
Enter Cal Whaley the man that Juliet has loved for most of her life. Cal is bi-sexual and has had a long string of men and women in his life. Juliet had been able to convince herself that she wasn’t what he wanted because she didn’t have a penis but that didn’t explain him dating women too. She finally decided that it was her and was ok with moving on when the opportunity with Gideon came up.
Cal, however, was not ok with Juliet moving on. When he sees Gideon, an old friend, and Juliet together he realizes whatever was holding him back from being with her was going to cause him to lose her. One night as she is leaving work Cal stops her and kisses her. Juliet is all kinds of messed up from the kiss and immediately goes to Gideon to confess. Cal follows her because he is not going to give her up and Gideon is just going to have to deal with that. Gideon was not blind and had witnessed the connection between the two so he proposes that they all hook up.
Hmm, ok. First it was kind of a jackass move by Cal to kiss her when she was with Gideon. That was not cool. Second, the triad suggestion seemed to come out of nowhere. There wasn’t much thought or discussion to it. Juliet was hesitant at first, worrying that she would be pushed out because Gideon and Cal really just wanted each other. The boys are able to convince her that is not the case and they decide to give the relationship a go.
At first I was confused about the three of them. The book is supposed to be m/m/f, right? However, it wasn’t so much presented like that.
“He’s right. Stop thinking, even for a moment, that if it was a choice I’d do anything but choose you. What I’m proposing is that we share you. I look at Erin, Todd and Ben and I think I’d prefer that to anything else. I want to be with you and if that means sharing you with Cal, I’m willing to try it. And yes, in the interests of full disclosure, I enjoy men.”
To me it seems like Gideon has proposed a m/f/m relationship because he says that he is willing to share her. But then he says that he likes me too. So while I was expecting a m/m/f I got a little of both.
It took me a while into the book to figure out what I thought was going on. There is sexual contact between Gideon and Cal. There is a scene where Juliet is “on the dot” and she sends them off to be together. Their sex was hard though. It wasn’t emotional or loving. It was hot and enforced this being a m/m grouping but it lacked the emotion I have seen from previous menages Ms Dane has given me. So for me what this book ended up being was a sexual m/m/f and an emotional m/f/m. I am not sure if that was the point to the book but that is how I saw it. The two men were clearly together for the sake of being with Juliet and if they could satisfy their bi urges also well that was a win/win. Cal even refers to Juliet as his heart.
There was something about her, about being with her that filled him just the right way. It was a Jules-shaped spot and no one but her would do.
I loved the presence of the Brown family in this book. It is Gillian and Adrian’s wedding so most of the book is centered around the planning. I really liked that series so I was happy to have all of them fill a good portion of the book. Although Raven being there was a little odd. I still don’t think I have warmed up to her.
Also with a menage relationship there is the telling of each family. Some of the families took it well and others not so well. Juliet has a pretty splintered family as it was and this made it worse. She is known for being strong and opinionated with her friends but as total push over with her family. She represents a doormat when it comes to her blood relatives. With the help and love of Cal and Gideon she focuses on pushes out those bad relationships and letting the new, good ones take over.
Overall, it was a good book even if it wasn’t 100% what I was expecting. I still prefer a m/m/f all the way but at least I wasn’t cheated out of some good moments between the guys. I am looking forward to the couple in the next book. The glimpse we got of them captured my attention. Final grade- B
”Speak of the devil!” Jules paused as Erin and Raven walked into Tart.
“My ears where burning.” Erin grinned as she came in, filling every inch of the place.
Jules put her hands on her hips, pleased to see them. “You should have a doctor look at that. You do know you’re not supposed to be putting anything in there. Not cotton swabs or penises. I worry about you.”
Erin barked a laugh. “Ha! Oops. Who knew ear sex was a no-no.”