Three’s the naughtiest kind of crowd.
Getting to the one-year mark is hard enough in a relationship between two lovers. For three, just getting through the day can be half the battle. Between Alice’s headstrong insistence on pushing her sexual limits and Jay’s need to confront an abusive former lover, Henry has his hands full keeping both his partners safe and happy. But despite all the challenges—and unexpected dangers that lurk in their hedonistic world—the three have formed a union that brings each of them to the edge of something new—something they may not be able to hold onto…
Where to start? Barber packs so much into this installment in the Neighborly Affection series that it’s hard to believe it all happened in one book. Impressively, it all flows from one scene to the next that I was swept along with the trio, without feeling overwhelmed by all that occurs or the pace at which it does. There is more than one series thread playing out in Finding Their Balance and yet it’s done in such a seamless way because the events play out over the course of Henry, Jay, and Alice’s life together. Because I loved it so much that I actually read it twice before writing my review, I will do my best to avoid spoiling the book for others as fans of the series should be able to enjoy discovering each of the surprises on their own.
By the end of Finding Their Balance it becomes clear why the previous installment in the series, Becoming His Master, was a look back into how Jay and Henry’s relationship formed and why it occurred where it did in the series. In order to understand the significance of Calvin Gardner’s actions in Healing the Wounds and his obvious crusade to show that Henry’s style of dominance as less than, it was imperative that we understood what had befallen Jay and how far Henry’s training and care had gone in forming the happy puppy Alice has come to know and love. It also sets the stage for many of the events that take place in this installment as things finally come to a head where Cal is concerned. While it’s not a pretty sequence of events as Cal proves his unworthiness in calling himself a Master, Jay and Alice form bonds of friendship with other club submissives and both discover just how much they’ve grown under Henry’s dominance and one another’s love. As with the previous installments, the sex scenes are varied, loving, and steamy as heck as Jay and Alice continue to flourish under Henry’s guiding hand and explore new pairings and positions. Oh yes, Alice discovers the joys of one of my favorite-to-read couplings.
Seeing Jay come into himself and face down his abuser was absolutely awe inspiring, not just because it happened but because it has been a continual process over most of the books and finally culminated in this installment. There was no quick stroke of the pen with which Barber “cured” him, but rather a process. In the same vein, we get to see Alice blossom in this installment. Not only does she come into her own dominance with Jay, but she also makes great strides in her submissiveness with Henry, particularly at the club. This is where the title comes into play as the trio has spent the past year together and finding their balance with one another. I was particularly relieved to see the inroads made between Alice and Emma and look forward to seeing how that relationship changes now that they’ve come to an understanding. And that’s the absolute best part of this book, arriving at the final page and knowing that there’s more to come. Barber’s Neighborly Affection series is one of my favorites and I look forward to reading the next installment in the series to find out where life takes the trio next.
I have followed this series since book one, so I would highly recommend that you follow the books in order so you will fully understand this book. At the one year mark of their relationship, Alice is still trying to find her role in this threesome. Jay and Henry had been bonded in a Dom/Sub relationship and Alice is meant to be the “gray” area in this group. While she is still learning to dominate Jay and submit to Henry, finding her own place in this mixture has been difficult for her. She is an intelligent woman, who understands metal and plastics. She needs to know how things work before she can offer her trust. With human relationships the water is murky, love is not perfect and she is slowly learning how to trust the process of relinquishing her control and heart to these two men.
We also see Jay dealing with his tragic past with Cal, understanding his demanding family and gaining the confidence to speak his voice and emotions. Henry is still the man who knows it all, sees things before they happen and puts himself out there to make the club they attend safe with classes for the subs on how to seek a Dom, stay safe in the process and to value their rights to speak up against abuse. There are a lot of obstacles that these three will face in this book and to go into them now would spoil the beauty of this book for the reader. It was the perfect next step in the story of Alice, Jay and Henry.
As much as I wanted to enjoy every word of this story, I found the writing to be a bit different in this book. With the other books I was able to sit back and let myself get absorbed with their story, but this one felt more formal, confusing as to who was doing and saying what. I felt it was almost to “over the heads” of a reader who just wanted the words to flow off the page and into their minds and hearts. I know Henry has been consistent in being a proper, sophisticated man with his actions and speech, but he still remained a human that I could feel comfortable with. Not this time, I not only felt I was in the midst of royalty with him, but even Alice and Jay’s took on the same tone in their POV.
Even with that, I would still highly recommend this series to any ménage lover or a reader who enjoys complex love stories. The BDSM theme in the book is well done and really emphasizes the importance of safe and consensual, which I admire. Henry, while being a controlling Dom, isn’t like what we read in other BDSM books. He “parents” his subs in tough yet very loving ways. He truly does have their best interests at heart and this isn’t easy when one needs to be built up after abuse and the other needs to be torn down from the protective walls she has created.