I thought the first story in Serena Akeroyd’s La Belle sans la Bête series was brilliant. This, the second one in the series, has all of the makings for romantic tragedy: a grieving mother whose young son’s recently died, an injured soldier who’s witnessed more than his share of war and death, and a lawyer who’s got his own family history of a sibling’s suicide. I wasn’t as impressed as I was in the first go around. I thought there was too much here. It felt like a game of one-upmanship, almost like they had their own ‘who had it worse’ club.
Katja ‘Kate’ Varsain has just lost her young son in a tragic accident. What’s even worse about the tragedy is that she and her son, Josef, were walking along the sidewalk when a car hit him, killing him. No parent should bury their child and this is what gets repeated and reemphasized. She’s desolate and grieving without any real purpose other than getting out of bed, barely. Her boss’s lover, Devina ‘Devvy’ Jacques, comes to her rescue showing her what can happen when you have a friend who’s willing to fight your battles for you until you can fight them yourself. Their relationship grew significantly since book 1 and that really worked.
Adrian ‘Ade’ Lancaster is a former soldier. Between his physical injuries that are described as being pretty disabling and his PTSD, he’s a little jacked up. Suffering from his diagnoses and the loss of ‘brother after brother’ Ade is making his yearly trek to France to visit his dead sister’s grave. It’s while he’s visiting the cemetery that he first notices Katja and strikes up a conversation. It turns out that his reason for chatting her up had nothing to do with offering her comfort while she’s visiting her son’s grave and everything to do with something selfish.
If you remember the first story, you might remember the name ‘Louis Rozen’ as Sebastien Jacques’s attorney who’s coordinating the financial aspects of the sale of his company. Louis has had a thing for Katja since being introduced to her when Alexei ‘Alex’ Ivanov moved in with Sebastien and Devvy. The thing is Louis has his own history that drives him, when he was younger his older brother committed suicide because he was gay. As an adult, Louis made the decision that he’s going to live the way he wants and by no one else’s standard and sleeps with both men and women. The thing is, Louis is a really nice guy and though I don’t understand his reasons, he wants what his boss has – a ménage style relationship. It turns out that Ade is also Louis Rozen’s lover.
I enjoyed the front half of this story much more than I did the back half. I didn’t like Katja’s character the more she came out of her grief. That’s not to say she was better as a grief stricken mother, but I thought her personality was much more amiable and likable. Her coming out of shell seemed more of a change than growth. I never felt her immediate attraction to Louis. They’d barely spoken before having their initial sexual encounter and that felt like it was just way too quick. I was never satisfied with their getting to know each other because I didn’t see it.
Her feelings for Ade were a bit more understandable. They spent much of their time together so there was a lot of getting to know each other, but he had issues and no willingness to fix them. He kept saying he would and never did.
I didn’t feel the same chemistry between these three as I did in the first in the first book (not even close.) The sex didn’t even seem heartfelt, just 3 people having sex and compared to the first story, that’s a real shame.
Happy Reading Folks!
Click to purchase: Amazon
A Thoroughly Modern Ménage
by Serena Akeroyd
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Siren Publishing