5 STARS: "Warning: this book is tough to handle. It includes graphic descriptions of rape and death. But there's also redemption and love and lust and friendship and healing too...you'll run the gamut of emotions in A THOROUGHLY MODERN MÉNAGE. Grief. The word doesn't come close to describing the excruciating horror that comes with having to bury your child. Katja Varsain's heart and soul was her son Josef, and when he's killed by a reckless hit and run driver, they were both severed. To add insult to injury, Josef's father wants to pick up where they left off all those years ago...before he raped her. Before she got pregnant as a result. Before she knew what a truly frightening person he was. Kate enlists the help of attorney Louis Rozen to take out a restraining order, but she doesn't expect to find PEACE in his arms. Louis knows immediately that she's the woman he's meant to spend his life with...though she might not appreciate the fact that he already has a man he'd like to spend his life with as well. Louis and Adrian Lancaster have been fuck buddies for longer than either of them have held down a "normal" relationship, but once Louis announces that he's fallen for Kate and can no longer sleep with Ade, shit gets real. Ade wonders if they might both be able to love Kate, if she might someday be able to be with them both. A THOROUGHLY MODERN MÉNAGE is the second offering in the La Belle sans la Bête Ménages Series and can be read independently. So yea, as a mom, this book had me balling my eyes out at Kate's tragic loss. This encouragement from her friend Devvy stood out to me for many reasons: "This is what you have to remember. Not that bloody awful eulogy. Or that dour-faced priest. This, Kate. Life. Vibrancy. Color. This fits your little boy." Ugh, rip my heart out, Ms. Akeroyd!! But then, the horror gradually started letting some passion squeak by, letting some peace seep in. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that totally gutted me and then SEAMLESSLY, realistically turned it into an entirely different kind of book. It could've turned out so much differently, and that Ms. Akeroyd was able to go from one extreme to the other was truly bewitching. My heart broke for Kate, but also for Louis and Adrian, as the pair of them certainly weren't slackers in the loss department either. The three of them found common ground in their grief and sorrow, the men showing her how to pick the pieces of her life up and cope with the hand she's been dealt. And while it may seem grossly inappropriate to include graphic sex scenes in with a storyline like this, I have to say that they were totally tasteful and well written. Don't get me wrong, they were hot as hell, but they were written in such a way that felt natural to the characters' development. I don't want to give anything away at the twists and turns life takes for Kate, Louis and Ade because this ride is worth the journey for anyone who dares to take it. Bottom Line: Though this is a stand alone, pick up the first book in this series too and enjoy the brilliance that is Serena Akeroyd. Kudos to you for this excellent yet heartbreaking and gutwrenching story." -- Delta, The Romance Reviews
Despite his shark tendencies, despite the cold, analytical arrogance that had taken the man to the top of his game, Louis was a nurturer. That was why this shit with Kate was going down the way it was.
Her frailty appealed to him, and he wanted to play Prince Charming to her Cinderella.
Having seen Kate only yesterday, he could easily understand such a desire. If Cinderella looked like Kate, he’d have wanted to fuck her too.
He sighed. “My stuff is getting more and more morbid.”
Jacques murmured, “Art is a means to an end at times, Adrian...if I may call you that?”
“Only if I can call you Sebastien. It feels like I’m talking to a butler when I use your surname.”
Sebastien’s mouth twitched. “I have no idea why that is so, but yes, call me by my Christian name.” He pointed toward the drawing pad tucked under Ade’s arm. “It's the height of rudeness, but may I see?”
Involuntarily, his arm clenched down on the pad, but that spurred him on to pull it away from the shelter of his body and to hand it over to a relative stranger. A stranger who had had the taste to buy his work—he wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing considering his own relationship with his creations.
That a stranger would be the first to catch a glimpse of his new medium had Ade’s guts twisting. Not even his agent had been privy to this drawing pad.
When Sebastien opened the page, then whistled. Ade stiffened, then sighed with relief at the awe in the other man’s eyes. “Mon dieu,” he whispered, as he flipped to another page. His fingers were careful with each sheet, they almost caressed the corners.
It didn’t surprise him that Sebastien took more care with the pad than he himself did. That damned book had been thrown about more than he’d like to admit...especially as each original drawing would probably fetch twenty grand on the open market.
Sebastien looked up at him. “This is new, non? I haven’t seen any pieces on sale in pen and ink.”
It always astounded him when people liked his stuff. Lifting a hand, he rubbed his nose. “It’s new. You’re the first to see it.”
Sebastien’s gasp was sharp, and flattering. “What an honor you give me.”
The man’s formal tone made Ade’s lips twitch. “I take it you like them.” Hey, he was above peddling for compliments.
“They are incredible.” He shook his head. “The detail is astounding.”
“I went to Mexico last year for their Dia de los Muertos celebrations. The theme is overdone, but I found myself drawing the sugar skulls over and over. Why fight it?”
“I’m glad you didn’t. Please, Adrian, you must contact me when you are ready to show them. I would like to attend the exhibit, and to purchase some of these—” Another head shake. “They’re incredible.”
“Hardly that,” he mumbled uncomfortably.
Grabbing the book back, he flipped through to one of his favorite skulls. This one had blood diamonds that leaked ruby tears from the eye sockets. A snake slithered from the open maw to sup at the tears. The skull was one of many amid a field of similar skulls with blood diamonds for eyes, their tears all nourishing ravenous serpents—morbid. Like he’d already said.
Pulling at the page, Sebastien gasped as the paper tore, but Ade just carried on until the sheet was separated from the book. “Here. Have it.”
Aghast, Sebastien shook his head. “No! I couldn’t.”
“Think of it as a thank you for protecting Kate this morning. Louis told me what you did...what you’re doing for her. Letting her stay here is very kind of you. She means a lot to Louis, and he means a lot to me, so here’s my appreciation.”
“Thank yous don’t usually come with a thirty thousand euro price tag, Adrian!” Sebastien handled the thick paper with care. “Mon dieu. I’d like to argue further but I want the picture.” He grinned, suddenly looking younger than what had to be his fortieth year. “Merci.”
Ade jerked a shoulder. “You’re welcome. I’d get it framed. The ink might run. Especially in this weather.” He eyed the sky. “Might rain soon.”
Sebastien’s panic was almost enough to make Ade grin. “Would you mind if I were a terrible host and just pointed to the lab?”
Doing just that, the instant Adrian started to make his way across the grass, the sound of hurried footsteps scraping against the stone path was clearly audible. Chuckling to himself at the other man’s eagerness, and he wouldn’t lie proud that his work could make a man with as much as Sebastien Jacques had stammer, Ade knocked on the lab door in a better mood than mere moments before.
When the door opened and Kate appeared with a puzzled frown on her brow, she asked, “Why are you knocking?” Then, she blinked, and reared back. “You’re from the cemetery.”
“Well, it isn’t my full time address,” he retorted with a shrug.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m Louis’ idea of a bodyguard.”
She narrowed her eyes. “This is weird.” From her pocket, she grabbed her cell and dialed Louis’ number. “Your bodyguard is here, but I’ve already met him. Yesterday, when I was at the cemetery.”
When Louis began to speak, Ade ignored the one-sided conversation to study the woman once more. She looked different here than she had done at the cemetery.
There, she’d been frail. Weak. Dejected. The archetypal picture of a woman suffering, her heart crumbling with a loss it didn’t know how to sustain.
Here, there was a sad light to her eyes, but her shoulders were straighter, she stood taller. Almost as though her responsibilities were the only thing keeping her upright.
"We can stop any time you don't feel comfortable."
Her grin was slow, but wicked. "Where would the fun in that be? I'm tired of being comfortable. Where has it got me?" She reached for Louis' shaft and mimicked the movements Ade had just made. She'd noticed, even in her embarrassment, that he'd been firmer than she'd have been. His grip taut, his fingers tensed, until they almost dug into the resilient flesh. At her touch, Louis groaned, his throat arching, head flinging back as he reacted to something she did to him. Not anyone else, but she. Kate Varsain. Quiet as a church mouse Kate.
She bent down, lowering her head until she could lap at his cock with her tongue. She flickered it over and around the shiny head, supping up the clear liquid that escaped as her hand worked his shaft. Eyes fluttering shut, she opened her lips, suckled down on the tip, then jumped when she felt a hand roll over the curve of her upturned ass. Those fingers played with the hem of her panties, and she felt them being pulled to the side, lodged into the crease between thigh and groin, to bare her pussy to Ade's hand.
That she was doing this to Louis while Ade did something to her had fire arcing through her blood, like her veins were filled with gasoline and each faint touch was enough to feed her with a deeper blaze. Her position had it so the lips of her sex were pressed together, and she whimpered around Louis' cock when Ade slid a finger between them. A cry escaped her when he found her clit and began to rub it. He didn't stay there long, his hand returning upward, and her eyes opened as he played with the small slit that was juicy with her arousal. Her gaze caught Louis', and she realized he was watching them both now, a fiery heat burning away as he looked at the two of them and found pleasure in what he saw.
She gripped the base of his cock, and lowered her mouth deeper, wetting the length, enjoying her ministrations even more when Ade was intent on teasing her, rimming her pussy, teasing her clit, before pushing two fingers deep inside her cunt. She mewled as he began to fuck her with those fingers, felt how sloppy the action was thanks to juices her pussy had created, moisture that was born from her need to be with these two men.
She couldn't argue with what her body was telling her. Right or wrong, she wanted them. And they wanted her.
God, what a fucking glorious day to be alive!
As his hand moved quicker, her mouth did too. She taunted and teased Louis' shaft, loved it with her tongue, lathed it and supped up every bit of pre-cum.
Louis' voice broke her concentration, but she continued with her ministrations regardless, "Your hip, Ade. You can't stay like that for long."
There was a growl of frustration. "I know. I think I'll have to stand."
With a gasp as he pinched her clit, Kate pulled away from the cock in her grip and whispered, "Move now, Ade, don't hurt yourself."
She mourned his touch, but said nothing when with a grunt of pain that was all too common a sound, he clambered off the bed. "You have to be careful. Remember that you're not as agile as you once were."
Louis' words seemed to piss him off. "Like I don't have a constant reminder anyway," he growled, then stormed over to Louis' side of the bed. Kate eyed him, wondering if he was either paining enough or angry enough to bring a halt to all of this, but he wasn't. He bent down, opened the bedside drawer, and pulled out a purple bottle shaped like a phallus. She’d seen it in the drugstore, but had never had the balls to buy it...not that she needed it. It had been too embarrassing to buy a dildo or a vibrator, and the few times she'd felt like she'd go nuts if she didn't find release, either her fingers did the talking or the shower head.
This was all so much more than she was used to, but God, she loved it.
Perhaps it wasn't healthy that the moments she felt like this were usually around Louis, and recently, Adrian too. Maybe they weren't here forever, maybe they were here to get her through the dark days of Josef's death. Whatever reason had brought them into her life, she was grateful, because she needed to be reminded that life was good. That life was worth living.
"Can I put it on you?" she whispered, her own thoughts spurring her on.
Ade's scowl lightened at her words. "Are you sure?" He turned to face her, and for the first time, she wasn't staring at his deliciously muscled butt but his cock. She had to react quickly to the scars that marred his skin, and she thought she did a good job because his scowl disappeared entirely, only to be replaced by a look of masculine satisfaction. Ade knew what he was packing in his boxers, but her reaction to his size pleased him. She was relieved at that, because his scars made her want to weep. God, they were so angry. Still so red.
Now she could see them, she could understand how much pain he was in. Her eyes drifted to Louis, and she could see a shared understanding hidden in the depths. She knew he understood how she felt, but neither of them could say a word, not without pissing off the grumpy bear in their midst.
Hell, after seeing his scars, she could see why he was a grump.
They curled around his groin in great slashes, some of the flesh was risen, others were scored into his skin. They arched over his pelvis and then drifted down to his thigh. She noticed all this while staring at his cock. It was hard looking at the scars through the periphery of her vision, but there was no way in hell she was going to make Ade back out of this. While she wanted to hold him, to curl about her arms and cry for the pain he must have gone through when that IED had exploded, a pain he was still enduring, instead, she reached for his shaft, touching him in the one way he would accept.