Let me begin the review by saying that I am new to the genre erotica/menage romance, so my thoughts are necessarily colored by my "newness". Lorelei James is also a new author for me. I read this book upon the recommendation of a friend during a discussion on the viability of "unconventional" relationships.
I applaud James for tackling such a delicate social issue and I think she did a respectable job. She is an excellent writer and storyteller. What I liked about the book was the fact that it did tackle the menage-type "love" relationship and attempted to do it justice by showing that love knows no bounds --if people are willing to do the work necessary to make the relationship work. James attempts to show that this particular love match, between Chassie,Trevor and Edgard was not just about sex, but something deeper and lasting, like commitment and genuine affection. So the plot/storyline was good. I also liked and, importantly, cared about all three of the main characters.
However, what I did not like was the fact that Chassie did not seem an integral part of the trio/relationship. I mean, certainly through narration the author tells us that she is, but I could not "feel" it. And, while James takes great pains in the physical descriptions of both Trevor and Edgard, I hardly know what Chassie looks like. And what is often repeated is not necessarily in a positive light --- i.e., she is flat chested, mixed race and wears her hair in a braid! She is described as a person who struggles with self-esteem and a person in need of love, especially the love of her husband. In Chassie, we see a caring woman bent on doing whatever it takes to please her husband in order to keep him.
And, again, while James tells us that Trevor loves her and we get glimpses of it, it does not compare to the love we are allowed to see and experience between Trevor and Edgard. I sincerely felt the love between the two heroes, time and time again. Through her writing, I could feel the loneliness and pain they experienced while separated and the joy and love once reunited. When they were together nothing and no one else seemed to matter. I recall one scene between Trevor and Edgard, where Trevor admits that he forgot Chassie was in the room. She seemed peripheral -- too often!
So, to remedy this I would have liked to see James show the reader via dialogue and actions that Trevor (and later Edgard) really did love and value Chassie, as the happy and well-written ending so adequately suggests. And that Chassie was not just a convenient tool to ensure their continued relationship and complement their sexual appetites. It would have also been helpful to further develop the struggle the trio (especially Chassie) had in becoming a family, after learning of Trevor and Edgard's love for each other. It is often in struggle and pain that true and authentic love emerges.
Having said all this, I would still recommend the book to others who want to ponder the issue of "unconventional" relationships. James certainly had the right idea and ingredients for such a story, it just fell a little short to me. But, the book did make me think and care and will serve as a tool for discussion. Oh, and I do plan on reading more of her work.
P.S. I just finished reading book #1, Long Hard, Ride and now I am fairly convinced that Chassie cannot be an equal love partner. Given Edgard's character in book #1 it is hard to imagine him having a desire to enter in a menage-type relationship with Chassie -- unless it offered him the chance to be with Trevor.