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REVIEW: Goldilocks and His Three Bears by A.M. Riley

Dear Ms. Riley.

I requested this book by saying, “I’ll trust A.M. Riley to take me anywhere.” I was not blown away by the blurb and the excerpt looked flippant so if it had been anyone else, I would not have requested it. But you? I trust your writing (despite not being able to finish Immortality is the Suck). And wow, am I glad I did.

AMR_GoldilocksandHisThreeBearsBrian wakes up in bed with Scott, with former lovers Paul and Jim staring down at him. Paul, Jim, and Scott are all roommates. The first part of the story tells how Brian slept with them all, leading up to the wake-up. He’s new to LA and rather lost and lonely. He’s a regular at a leather bar, where he meets Paul:

He was enjoying the Faultline’s traditional Tuesday night happy hour when a hand appeared on the bar a couple of customers down.

The hand was like one that might have been seen on the Roman god Vulcan: calloused, muscled and thick across the middle. It slid money across the bar and received a longneck in return. Brian?s eyes fixated on that hand, then traveled past a three-inch-wide studded wristband to follow a complicated nest of snakes twining and winding their way up a muscular arm, over shoulders as thick and succulent as a roast ham, to an inked neck.

Trying to get a closer look, Brian squeezed his way past two guys who reeked of new leather, looked up, and saw a tattoo ad spray painted over a bodybuilding commercial.

Six feet three at least. Bald as an egg and inked on practically every inch of exposed skin. His Roman god stood out from the crowd, even in a room full of big burly men.

The man took a long drag on the bottle of beer, and thick throat muscles worked. There was a black adder tat that started at the back of his shaved head and circled his thick neck until it ended close below his earlobe, venom-dripping fangs gaping wide.

The man twisted his torso away from the bar, and Brian saw the tat that undulated over the man’s six-pack. D.A.D.D.Y. it proclaimed in letters four inches high.

Brian and Paul establish a relationship, but then Paul leaves for business for a few months, without establishing any expectations. So Brian starts fucking Jim without realizing that he’s Paul’s roommate. When Jim goes away, he asks Brian to take care of his marijuana plants, so Brian starts fucking Scott, their other roommate. At which point, Paul and Jim come home.

Paul is Brian’s Daddy — yes, this is Daddy kink and it’s very well done. Jim is very hairy and very maternal and his knickname is, yes, “Momma Bear.” Scott is bisexual and a cock-slut, bottoming to everyone, including Brian. So there you have the “three bears” part. Brian is, of course, blond, so he’s Goldilocks.

So the first third of the book, then, is this rather flippant memory of Brian’s past sexual escapades. Once these escapades become known to all three of the roommates, however, the story gets really interesting. Because Brian’s still mainly drawn to Paul and doesn’t want to lose him. When he’s discovered, they take their relationship to a different level. It’s always been leather and slightly kinky, but Paul spanks Brian and they enter a power exchange relationship. Jim understands it, but Scott’s pretty freaked out having to listen to Brian’s cries and screams when they’re scening. And then Jim and Scott establish their own primary relationship, above and beyond the sex they have with Brian and Paul:

“Jesus.” Scott stopped dropping cookie dough onto the sheet and looked sideways at Jim, his ears bright red. “Are you sure that?s okay?”

Jim blithely kept beating dough. “Haven’t you ever known anyone involved in a Dom/sub relationship?:

“I’m a simple boy from Georgia, Jim,” said Scott, shaking his head. “Man lays a hand on another man there, and we call it something else.”

“I am absolutely positive that Brian wants what’s happening in there. As a matter of fact, I believe he instigated it,” said Jim calmly.

A particularly loud wailing cry echoed through the house. Scott paled. “I don’t know, Jim.”

“Listen…” And Jim wrapped a big comforting arm around Scott. “You talk to him about it, okay? He’ll tell you. Brian is running that relationship, Scott. He really is. Paul is completely under his control.”

“You sure?”

“You’ve been with us, Scott. You’ve seen how much Paul cares for him. How careful he is with him.”

Scott poked at the cookie dough with one finger. “Brian’s my friend, Jim.”

“I know,” said Jim, and he kissed Scott on the top of his head. “Mine too.”

Scott turned into his arms, let himself be held. It was very quiet in the house.

“It’s stopped.” Scott?s voice was muffled against Jim?s chest. Jim ran his hand up and down Scott?s back, into his hair. He kissed him on the head again. Scott tipped his head back to look at him, and Jim kissed his nose…his mouth. Scott’s mouth opened under his, like a hungry baby bird’s, and Jim folded the shorter man up in his arms and bent into the kiss.

“Man.” Scott’s voice was breathy when they separated. “Want you.”

“C’mon,” hummed Jim.

Most of the rest of the book actually depicts Jim and Scott’s relationship and their interactions with Brian and Paul. And although Brian is the linchpin of the relationships, that’s not the heart of the book anymore. It sounds complicated and it’s difficult to explain, but what I loved about this book is how organically these relationships grow together and apart and together again. And it all ends up being much more profound than the book looked at first glance. It’s a safe gentle examination of a power exchange relationship told from both the inside and the outside, which makes it a great book for people who are interested in learning more about BDSM without being utterly freaked out.

All in all, I’m glad I trusted you to take me there, because this book is really great.

Grade: B+

Best regards,
-Sarah

Book Link | Amazon | nook
| Sony| KoboBooks | Loose Id |

This is a Loose Id book thus it isn’t available on third party sites until next month or so? The story is also originally 94 pages according to goodreads.

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

4 Comments

  1. Merrian
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 05:38:33

    I read this book only this week for much the same reasons as you Sarah; the author AM Riley. I loved it for all the reasons you outlined but mostly I think for the lightness of spirit that shines through the story. I don’t mean the quirky humour of the start but the pervading sense of who these men are and how they are together. This is one of those stories that reaches the benchmark of everyone being better for being together than being apart.

    ReplyReply

  2. Sarah Frantz
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 07:43:21

    @Merrian: Yes, that. And it’s obvious why these men love each other. You can see them fall in love and see them being the better for each other, all of them.

    ReplyReply

  3. tori
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 10:23:36

    I’ve never read AM Riley but I do like the sound of this story. Thank you for the wonderful review.

    ReplyReply

  4. HelenMac
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 16:13:01

    I think I’m going to have to give this a try, afterall. The blurb really didn’t sell me on it, but I’ll read anything you rec, Sarah!

    ReplyReply

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