A guest review by Jenre
This collection of 15 steamy m/m/m ménage stories are sure to get you hot under the collar, but what interested me most were the stories which were more than a thin excuse for hot sex and showed some development of character or situation.
Just close your eyes and feel: soft, warm lips skimming from your shoulder to your ear, your skin prickling and tickling. Then add another set, echoing the first, layer upon layer of sensation as two sets of hands join the game, stroking, sliding, ratcheting up the heat. And when your lips part and the tip of your tongue darts out, it’s met by two more in a luscious, messy, three-way kiss. This is necking, pure and hot, sending shivers of arousal down your spine. In these stories, the men come in threes: triple the pleasure, triple the love.
I have a great fondness for m/m/m ménage books and so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this anthology. What interests me most about ménage is not just the variety in the sexual positions, but how the emotions are brought into play. Whilst all the stories in this anthology were different the basic premise was the same: Initial set up of character and situation, followed by hot m/m/m sex, leading to resolution of some sort – either a HEA or, more often, a HFN. The better stories in the anthology took that basic premise and managed to weave in a whole wealth of feelings and emotion, so that it wasn’t just about the sexual thrills. It was no great surprise to me that these stories were my favourites from the anthology.
One such story was Down the Middle by Heidi Cullinan, which told of couple Parker and Robbie who are on the cusp of a break up. Work pressures have all but destroyed their relationship despite the fact that they love each other. Told from Parker’s first person point of view, the story follows Parker as a chance meeting and a trip to the men’s room with younger man, David, proves to be a make-or-break moment for him and Robbie. I really liked the way we meet the men at a crisis point in their lives. The heartache and sorrow that Parker feels over what he sees as an inevitable relationship break-up, one he feels helpless to prevent, at the beginning of the story contrasts nicely to the gradual hope that builds as the story progresses. Through David the men rediscover each other and I found it immensely emotionally satisfying.
Another story I enjoyed greatly was An American in Seville by Lenore Black. This story was about a lonely young man, Tony, who is trapped in an unfulfilling life, mourning the break up of his marriage and hating his job . Rather than the ménage being the focus of the story, it was what the ménage represented that was important: Freedom, daring, satisfaction; and I delighted in seeing the downtrodden Tony begin to blossom under the patient and skilled hands of a flamenco dancer and his guitarist partner. Another plus point was the setting of Spain with all its riot of colour and activity. Tony is attracted to Spain as much as he is to the two men and I read to the end, eager to discover whether Tony would take the chance of a new life, or return to the boredom of his life in the USA. Marvellous.
There were other stories too which had a different spin on the ménage relationship. Stories such as Perform for Me by Lori Toland which was an unusual look at voyeurism and D/s relationships; or Snowbound by Jana Denardo which was a paranormal with the interesting setting of 1940s USA; or 1+1+1 Is 3 by Evan Gilbert which was a sweet coming of age story; or Unwrapped: The Birthday Gift by Josephine Myles which involved two young men on the cusp of love who are taught an important lesson in trust by a much older and wiser man. All of these I would highly recommend.
For those of you looking for something which isn’t angsty, there were plenty of lighthearted stories. I especially liked the first story in the anthology, The Thank You Note by Jamie Freeman, which looked at two men with opposite personalities and their differing reactions to having a third in their bed. Also, Neighbors by Day, Naughty by Night by Devon Rhodes, was an amusing story of how one half of a couple comes to terms with a sleepwalking neighbour in the bed of his boyfriend.
Even the other stories had their merits, although admittedly some of them were more about hot sex than in depth characterisation and complex plotting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though and I felt there was enough of a mix of story types within Necking to recommend it to those who like anthologies and m/m/m ménage.