Richard Daniels and Taryn Moss are walking home drunk and are immediately struck by a man who captures both their attention. Caleb Black thinks their drunken admiration and palpable intimacy are cute, so he decides to ask them both out when they’re sober. Sparks continue to fly when they learn that although Richard is gay, he likes having sex with Taryn, who is straight, and that Caleb likes topping both men and women.
Even though the relationship is somewhat affected by outside influences such as their families and friends, Alan skilfully balances each member’s relationship with the others. Taryn is uncomfortable with getting too close to her men in case the relationship fails or she loses Richard’s friendship. Richard is afraid that Taryn and Caleb may decide that they want a completely hetero relationship, since they can marry and have children in a socially acceptable and legally recognised union, while he is relegated to ‘friend’ status and is forced to witness the happiness they deny him. Caleb is taking things slowly to ensure that he doesn’t push his new lovers too far and that the pre-existing bond between them can expand to include him as well. If the three of them can maintain their relationship, then it promises to be more than any of them hoped for, with everyone’s needs being met.
Perfect Formation’s biggest appeal for me lies in its perfect balance between smut and affection. Caleb is the spark missing between Taryn and Richard, who in turn offer love and companionship and a sense of home while inspiring the same in him. The sex scenes are well written, with dominant Caleb taking charge firmly but gently, taking their limitations and needs into consideration and gauging their reactions to his orders. The BDSM is very light and while Caleb issues instructions as to what positions Richard and Taryn take and how or if they can touch, he doesn’t treat them as ‘slaves’ or inflict much pain, preferring to torture them with anticipation. He’s not the master outside the bedroom, but he’s still a bossy guy. Alan explores the combinations of players without giving the impression that any particular couple within this equilateral triangle is taking precedence over the remaining member (no pun intended), which is something I’m wary of in a ménage story.
Most of the story is light and fun but when they face a threat from outside their relationship, it takes on a more serious tone, and when they are forced to stay together for safety’s sake, they must evaluate what they want and need and if they are willing to let go of their baggage to get it. Even if it is a shameless plot device, the external threat effectively does its job in progressing the story and providing an opportunity for the characters to examine their issues together before their insecurities can fester.
Yay or Nay?
Perfect Formation ticks all the boxes for me. If you like a man in charge, this book is for you. If you like a ménage, this book is for you. If you like full, penetrative sex between men, this book is for you. If you enjoy erotica with a plot and genuine affectionate, romantic and sexual love between the main characters … I think you know what I’m going to say.
Perfect Formation is a 2009 Australian Romance Readers Award finalist for Favourite Erotic Romance.