Brick by Brick by Maryn Blackburn


 Natalie and James hook up with handsome actor Gage in a wine-induced threesome which flouts Natalie’s fantasies of being in the middle. While Gage and Natalie pair off, Gage also lets James take him.James’s bisexuality doesn’t change Natalie’s love. The adventure ignites their sex life for weeks, until it’s clear Gage is not going to call. Then James starts trying to get his wife to let him do what Gage did, and Natalie refuses.

Things are already rocky when Gage returns, full of apologies. Still, they strike a temporary balance. Each Gage and Natalie are willing to perform one sex act the other won’t, and James has what he needs. But when a contrite Gage finally goes to his knees for James, trouble rains down. And if they want this threesome to work, they’re going to have to rebuild it, brick by brick.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22561725-brick-by-brick?ac=1
I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did.  The description had caught my interest but with each chapter that went by I found my disgust at James and the way the story was unfolding grow.  I think this could have been a wonderful story had a few changes been made in character development and personalities but this is what we have so I have to accept and be honest in saying I wasn’t overly thrilled.
James and Natalie Bedwell appeared at first to be a happy couple.  They had talked about adding a third to their romance but never really found a man who they felt would fit it.  One night at a party they meet Gage, a very sexy
actor and the spark was there.  They slip out of the party early and go purchase some wine and go back to their house to do the deed.  It came across very quickly that James was more into having Gage than Natalie was.  I felt she was used as a prop in the scene between the men.  So after that Gage leaves and they don’t hear from him for a few weeks.  We watch and this so called loving couple begin talking about being too tired to have sex and the intimacy isn’t there.  I was rather confused by this because it read to me like after only one night Gage was now the glue that kept this married couple together.
Gage eventually comes back and we get to hear about the horrid childhoods of the three characters and once again they go at it again.  James was clearly the leader of the three and dictated who did what and to whom and that turned
me off.  Natalie was also portrayed as just a tool for the men to get off and her feelings were not considered.  When James demands of Gage were not met this caused what I thought would be a split in the group but no, Gage gave in to James and tried to make him happy to the point of injury.
It is at this point life happens and the ups and downs take over.  Wrong gifts were given, accidents occur and  conversations were overheard.  Finally Natalie acts on her feelings that she has lost James and leaves.  So then we go through the repairing phase when everyone loves each other and starts communicating clearly.
My strong dislike comes strictly with the characters not the plot.  James was too much of a demanding creep who made me angry.  His lack of concern for Natalie in this threesome was frustrating and his dominance over Gage was
extreme.  He didn’t even bother asking Gage why he didn’t feel comfortable doing certain things, he was only concerned with his own satisfaction Gage acted like an abused puppy who was unable to have a thought of his own.
For a sexy actor he was a follower who didn’t appear to have any desire to stand up and when he did those few times he backed down quickly and focused on how he could make up for his mistakes.  Natalie stood by as a martyr to many times for my taste.  She watched as she was ignored or used by the men and didn’t do anything to bring attention to her concerns until she ran away.  I just felt like we had three irritating characters that could have really been explosive and dynamic if given a chance.
It was a great plot; I loved the extra twists such as their past and current issues outside the relationship.  The scenes were well developed but all was diminished by the characters personalities.
I am surprised to admit that I didn’t enjoy Brick by Brick as much as I expected to. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it fell more into the category of a good read than a great read. To be honest,  I’m not exactly sure why. It had all of the right elements – solid writing, seriously hot M/M/F ménage scenes, even hotter M/M sexual interactions, and great characters. Ms. Blackburn even through in a great plot twist that forced the Natalie, James and Gage to reexamine their priorities and expectations. See? It has everything, but for some reason it just didn’t break that barrier into great read for me.
James and Natalie have been married for ten years. They have a great marriage and love each completely. Gage is an actor who they meet at a business party and they help him “escape” some fans and agree to go back to their place and enjoy a couple bottles of wine. As the wine flows and inhibitions loosen, James and Natalie find themselves doing what they only fantasized about – having a ménage with another man. It was HOT (and not because they were in front of the fireplace). Gage has to return home the next day for work and one thing leads to another and weeks have passed without the couple hearing from him. Natalie feels like James has withdrawn from her and fears that she is no longer exciting enough for him sexually. When Gage returns unannounced and the trio tries again, the bedroom activities become more intense again – and definitely makes for some great reading. The
interactions between James and Gage seem to focus more on the duo, causing Natalie to feel like a third-wheel and worry that she is losing her husband.
While her reactions are completely understandable, Natalie’s constant self-doubt regarding her place in the relationship is likely what made Brick by Brick a good read instead of a great read. As I said, I enjoyed the book. It’s solidly written, the characters are well developed, and the sex scenes are hot – it was just missing that little extra oomph. That said, I will have to add Ms. Blackburn to my watch list as I enjoyed her writing style. If you’re in the mood for a M/M/F ménage, be all means check it out because it is an enjoyable read.