Title: Sound of Us
Series: Us #2
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male Menage
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Gay Romance
Jake Bowden didn’t expect to be settling into a strong, loving relationship with another guy at only twenty-three years old—never mind with two. His chemistry with Cris is as strong as ever, while things with Charles are more like a simmer than a heavy boil. Charles says he’s perfectly content to go at Jake’s pace, but Jake isn’t sure slow is what he wants anymore. And when Jake wants something, he isn’t shy about going after it.
Cris Sable is head-over-heels in love with the two men in his life, and he’s vowed to do everything he can to protect the fragile, three-way relationship they’re cultivating—even if it means lying about his past. A dark past that resurfaces in an unexpected way and forces Cris to make the difficult choice between shielding Jake and Charles from it, or trusting them enough to help him face it head-on.
Charles Greenwood had forgotten what it felt like to be loved, until a feisty go-go boy and an ex-porn star fell into his bed, and then stole his heart away. He loves both men equally, but differently, slowly stoking the fire of the chemistry he shares with Jake, while passionately pursuing Cris—both in and out of bed. Their lives are entwining in the very best way…until Cris starts to pull away, distancing himself from the loving support of their triad. And after Cris disappears one night on a drunken bender, Charles vows to do whatever it takes to prove to Cris that he can trust them with anything—mind, body and spirit.
Three separate hearts will finally beat as one.
Note: This is the continuation of an m/m/m romance begun in Here For Us and is best read in order to fully enjoy the character and story development. The book also contains mild BDSM elements, including spanking.
Jake swallowed hard before facing Chet. “I want to move back to Benny’s apartment for a while, so I can prove I can function on my own and manage my meds, and that all of my progress isn’t going to go away if you guys aren’t here twenty-four-seven to prop me up.”
Chet’s frown softened into a fond smile. “I think that’s a very mature decision, Jake.”
“Very much so. In fact, I’ve been struggling with a way to bring this up myself.”
Jake edged backward a step. “You want me to leave?”
“Quite the opposite.” Chet invaded Jake’s personal space, trapping Jake between the island and his taller body. He hunched down to meet Jake’s eyes and planted both hands on the countertop behind Jake. “I love you here, in my house and in my bed. But I brought you here knowing it was temporary, and now that you’re managing your illness, you need to start managing your life again.”
“Yeah,” Jake said.
“So if you leave, I want you to leave knowing you will always be welcome back.”
“Thank you.” Jake’s lips curled into a sexy smirk. “Plus, us living in different places means we can go on, like, real dates. You and me don’t really do a lot just the two of us.”
“That’s true, and we can most certainly manage dates. I’d love to spend time with you outside of this house.”
“But what about other people knowing that all three of us are dating?” He squirmed enough that Chet stepped back, giving him space.
“What about it?” Chet asked. “Even if the three of us went out to a meal in a nice restaurant, no one would know we were together unless we began swapping kisses at the table.”
The mental image of the three of them dressed up and making out in a fancy restaurant made Cris’s dick twitch with interest. He’d never do it, but goddamn, he wanted to publicly claim these two amazing, passionate men as his, and no one else’s.
“I guess.” Jake didn’t sound happy about the idea of their threesome being discovered, and that hurt a little bit.
“Are you embarrassed to be dating two men at once?” Cris asked.
“Not really. I mean, it isn’t that I’m embarrassed by you guys. It’s just that this is so…abnormal.”
“Shit, that’s the wrong word,” Jake said. He pushed away from the counter and stalked to the kitchen table. Grabbed the back of a chair but didn’t turn around. “Chet explained polyamory to me and I get it. I do. But not everyone else will. Most people won’t.”
“That didn’t seem to be an issue when we started this weeks ago,” Cris said, confused by this new hesitation in Jake. And frustrated at talking to his back. “Will you look at us, please?”
Jake turned, arms crossed, a familiar look of defiance on his face.
“I think I understand,” Chet said. “Jake leaving moves this relationship outside of these four walls. It’s no longer protected. No longer hidden from outside scrutiny and criticism.”
“But that’s going to have to happen at some point,” Cris said. “We can’t hide forever, and we shouldn’t have to.” They’d already been hiding for weeks, and all Cris wanted to do was shout to the rooftops about how lucky he was.
“I know that, okay?” Jake snapped. “I just…I’m a go-go dancer, you know? People hear that and automatically assume I’m some kind of slut, so what will they think if they know I’m seeing two guys at once? Uber-slut dancer, aisle threesome?”
“You know you aren’t a slut, so why does it matter so much what other people think?”
Jake took three strides forward, hands balled at his sides, unexpected anger blazing in his eyes. “That’s easy for you to say. You’re this big, buff dude who can shut people up with a glare, and you’re comfortable with people looking at you. You did porn, for fuck’s sake. And maybe I dance half-naked for money, but that doesn’t mean I want people staring at my personal life and dissecting it. It’s too private for that.”
Cris frowned. “Just because I did porn doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with people getting up in my personal life either. Why the hell do you think I used a stage name? Yeah, I showed off my naked body, but Dane wasn’t me, Jake. Internet subscribers don’t get the real me. You guys do.”
“So if you don’t want people up in our business, either, why don’t you get what I’m saying?” Jake was coiled tight, one wrong word away from bursting into tears.
Cris had to fix this. “I do get what you’re saying. I guess I see our relationship differently. I don’t see it as this weird, bizarre thing that people are going to examine under a microscope like we’re a new strain of bacteria. I’m so goddamn proud to be with both of you, and I want to show it. I want people to know you guys are mine and that I love you. I can’t do that if we’re hiding in this house.”
A single tear slipped down Jake’s cheek, and the sight of it broke Cris’s heart a little bit. He swept Jake into his arms, grateful that Jake didn’t struggle or protest the hug. “I’m sorry,” Cris whispered. “I’m sorry I can’t say the right thing, I’m sorry.”
“You said the right thing,” Jake said into his armpit. “I’m the emotional mess who gets weepy over the way you say ‘I love you’.”
Sound of Us is Book 2 in A.M. Arthur's Us series. This book is not a standalone, and you must read book 1 in the series. Here for Us, Book 1, ended in a HFN and this book continues that story. I loved the first book in this series and could not wait to read this one! The tentative relationship the three men had formed in the first book was further developed and solidified in this book. And, considering you have three men from three different generations trying to build a relationship, there were a lot more issues to work through.
Jake is the youngest of the three men, and the one that is less sure about a relationship between the three of them. He's getting control over his life again after his bipolar diagnosis and he needs to live on his own to make sure he can manage without Charles and Cris propping him up. Jake is all in on having a relationship with Cris but is still working to build a relationship with Charles. But, together they're finding a rhythm that works for them. They've connected over cooking instructions for Jake and Charles is willing to take it as slow as Jake needs. Cris is in love with both men and is the bridge between them. He struggles to go at Jake's pace and just wants the three of them together and living their life as partners. But, Cris has a big secret he's keeping from both men that is about to throw his safe world into chaos. Cris has to learn how to lean on his partners instead of always being the strong one, and will have to learn to let Jake seem him vulnerable for them to succeed. Charles/Chet is willing to be and do whatever is needed for both men he has come to love. He's older than both men and more laid-back. He's able to provide the support that both need, and is willing to go at whatever pace both men need. And, if you're a reader who isn't into reading BDSM elements, please be aware that this book does have some of those themes. In this book, Charles/Chet has taken on the "Daddy/Dom" role with Cris in particular. If you read the book description, it does have a note about the BDSM elements, I did not read this as I was just excited to get the continuation of their story.
I was taken by surprise by the spanking/Daddy/Dom elements in this book (my fault completely), which kept me from completely enjoying the story. Though I enjoyed the first book more than this one, you HAVE to read both books to see the full relationship from the men. And, I really enjoyed watching Jake grow through both books and get more comfortable with himself and plan for his future. In the first book, you really just had a relationship among the three men develop so there was very little sex, but this book certainly makes up for that as their relationship strengthens. And, you get to see the men take their relationship beyond the walls of their home. I don't know if the next book in the series will be about these men, or about Dell and Toro but it's definitely going to be one to read too!
Rating: 4 stars
Meet the Author
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone's throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She's been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn't been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur's work is available from Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.