Polar Reaction by Claire Thompson

 Polar Reaction by Claire Thompson

Blurb:

A passion hot enough to melt a glacier. A love that shakes them to the core…

The savage Antarctic winter is closing in, and three research scientists are scheduled for the last flight out—until an unexpected blizzard traps all three of them in the compound. There’s Tuck, who only joined the project to be close to sexy-but-straight Brendan, the man of his dreams. And Jamie, who has always admired the other two from afar.

Thrown into a dangerous situation, the three of them turn to each other for survival, solace…and more. As Brendan overcomes his confusion over his impulses, the trio begin a sexual exploration that explodes into passion and unbridled lust.

Yet once the rescue helicopter airlifts them to safety, Brendan comes to his senses, returning home to his carefully constructed, closeted life. But there’s a Brendan-shaped hole left behind in Tuck’s and Jamie’s hearts. There’s only one way to fill it—by breaking through Brendan’s reserve to reclaim the man they both love.

 

 

Review:

*I was really excited to read this book. Not only was it by an author I had previously enjoyed but also it features scientists at a research station in Antarctica. It’s so incredibly rare to read something that dovetails with my actual life experience (especially as I’m not a gay male, let alone in a m/m/m relationship). I was prepared to love this book and I wanted to. Instead I ended up not enjoying reading it but having the distinct feeling most won’t agree with me. It’s my opinion so here goes, but keep in mind, I doubt most will care about the problems I saw.

Three men are stranded in the Antarctic when an unexpected snowstorm prevents them from leaving at the end of a science expedition. With the help of generous alcoholic libations and a near brush with death, the men are able to let go of their inhibitions and act on the sizzling chemistry brewing between each of them. Unfortunately life in the “real world” isn’t always as easy as it is when you’re stranded on the edges of civilization. The men must figure out a way to keep their newfound relationship and emotions alive when faced with the practical problems of their everyday lives.

Ménages are an intricate dance to write and often one that is poorly presented. While I don’t believe all the partners involved have to be equal, they must all bring something unique that make the multiple relationship work. Similar to the cliché of puzzle pieces, each member has to bring something that is important and necessary. Unfortunately in this particular offering the characters would have worked very well in one on one relationships rather than a threesome. Tuck and Brandon would have made a lovely, sweet story and Tuck and Jamie would have given a spicy and charming tale. The three of them simply don’t work as Brandon and Jamie fall very flat together and furthermore Jamie stands as a real roadblock to Brandon and Tuck in the later half of the book.

Brandon and Tuck develop an immediate and strong connection, both physically and mentally, from their first meeting. That connection is nurtured silently between the two men over the course of a year, yet neither one has the strength to act upon their feelings. It takes the brash and horny actions of a young Jamie to make their longing a reality. Sadly Brandon and Tuck’s connection, so strong and vividly established in the beginning is virtually lost in the repeated reassurance that Jamie and Brandon, then Tuck and Jamie have strong connections. While it’s important to establish that the third of the relationship has a spot, in this case it was done so at the expense of the initial two’s connection.

Additionally, the prose was often clunky and opted for a thesaurus of terms rather than a fluid, lyrical storytelling. The characters would make statements that weren’t evident in their actions or situations revealed in the book. For example, both Tuck and Brandon mentally praise Jamie repeatedly for his sensitivity and courage, yet this was completely absent from his actions with the exception of one brief monologue showing a glimpse of actual emotion from Jamie. Other than that solitary commentary from Jamie, he came off as an immature, horny, sarcastic and selfish brat. His actions were always rationalized and both men seemed to appreciate Jamie’s overwhelming selfishness, which was surprising and leant an aura of disbelief to the threesome. It was unfortunate the author offered nothing to support the claims even in the way of brief glimpses of positive and supportive behavior.

Jamie’s action of going behind Tuck’s back to see Brandon, regardless of his justification, was for his own selfish reasons to “connect” with Brandon and ensure he had a place with Brandon. Their sexual connection was re-affirmed and accepted yet when Brandon returns to speak to Tuck the overwhelming tension is from the complete wrong that it would be if Brandon and Tuck were to reunite sexually on their own. Supposedly their emotional connection is enough that they can never leave Jamie out for fear he’ll be upset. I had the very vivid image that if Jamie was to go off alone with either men this would be accepted and even encouraged, yet if Brandon and Tuck were to be alone, Jamie would have a huge problem with this and likely cause issues.

Due to this, the threesome felt forced and awkward. There was clearly a connection between Tuck and Jamie and also Brandon and Tuck, yet the latter was certainly hindered by Jamie’s constant manipulation, which left the entire relationship wooden for me. I wish the author had focused on either one of these couples and given a solid, enjoyable story.  And while I enjoy sex for the sake of sex as much as the next person, repeated scenes taking up more length than necessary ended up dragging out the story without adding a significant progression to the characters or their relationship.

Brandon is a true definition of a “gay for you” stereotype. Even though he’s only previously involved with women, Brandon falls in love with Tuck regardless of his gender and is considered bi because Tuck happens to be a guy. Brandon is complex with a strong personality with regards to his work and thinking, yet oddly passive and confused when presented with a situation outside of his standard idea of normal. Brandon’s confusion and awkward attempts at normality were understandable and sympathetic, allowing his passivity to dictate his actions against reasonable fear and confusion. When the entire escapade was initiated through copious amounts of alcohol and the dubious rationalization that their lives could end tomorrow, it’s not shocking the up til now straight guy would have some emotional problems with jumping into an openly gay ménage relationship or that he would pass off the sexual encounter as an aberration.

Yet Tuck longs for him from afar without giving any understanding to Brandon’s situation and Jamie is angry that Brandon didn’t fall into bed with him the way Tuck did. Jamie’s insistence on having Brandon in bed with them felt more and more due to Jamie’s desire for variety and the attention of two very attractive men on him than a real loving relationship that was based on deep and lasting emotions between each man. Tuck clearly had deep and lasting feelings for Brandon yet interestingly, they rarely were the ones to actually have sex. The majority of the sex scenes all revolved around Jamie and his needs.

Even with all these problems I had with the book, I recognize that most likely this book will be received extremely well and praised highly. It has likeable characters, a somewhat reasonable and engaging plot line, the story moves quickly and there is plenty of hot and kinky sex. And like I said, if this had featured the individual relationship of the men, it probably would have worked better – for me anyway. As it was, it fell flat from excelling as a successful ménage. Due to that, it was awkward and ultimately uncomfortable to read. But I fully expect to be the minority reviewer with this opinion.

Get it HERE!

 


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