The debut novel of a masterfully emotional, high stakes trilogy that will have readers forfeiting tradition to gamble with love…
December and Austin have a traditional, storybook marriage complete with defined roles. Married young, they’ve shared nearly a decade of passion and love. December’s submissive nature is perfectly suited for her husband’s authoritative, yet adoring personality and he seamlessly holds the indisputable role of head of the household.
But Austin harbors secrets, and the pressure of losing his job makes those festering skeletons impossible to ignore.
Turning to alcohol instead of his wife, Austin finally drives December into the arms of their closest friend, Cord, despite her intense loyalty. Cord has loved December since the day they met. His moral compass is challenged and lines are blurred when Austin steps aside and insists Cord take his place.
Forfeiting all, Austin must face a harsh truth. Take control of his life, or forever lose the woman he loves.
WARNING: This book contains subject matter suitable for mature reading audiences. Some content may be offensive to sensitive readers. Degrees of Separation is a ménage trilogy with many emotionally graphic encounters and challenging situations that break the rules of traditional romance.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I love poly romances with equal intimacy between all characters involved. This is definitely not what you’d find in the most of the poly romances out there because the three characters Austin, December, and Cord begin the story with Austin and December happily married, and Cord Austin’s best friend. Whatever feelings Cord has for Austin are buried deep and then later he buries those for December right beside them. As a contemporary romance, the feel and actions of these characters lends to an authenticity I usually don’t find in other poly romances. It feels like these are real people and real circumstances. The characters aren’t perfect with little and big flaws written in such a way that I not only sympathized with them but in a couple of cases rooted for them. I can envision where the story can go but also see that rocky and painful road they have to follow to get there.
Austin and December’s relationship is based on gender roles and it makes them both happy. Austin is the provider, the head of the household, and December is the heart. The set up works for them, until it doesn’t. Their marriage is happy and turmoil free that turns to a cold shell after Austin is laid off and he takes up drinking. December does the best with what they have, keeping Austin’s decline a secret until there is practically no one turn to for help. Every day, December’s trust in Austin withers and dies. Austin has become someone she doesn’t know, doesn’t recognize, and yet she tries to help him only to lose Austin more. I could actually see the different stages of grief Ember went through as her marriage to Austin dissolved.
The last ten months Cord had quit seeing Austin and December because they stopped inviting him over. When he found December run off the road, cold and hurt, he took her home. The revelations that were unraveled that day was the start of the downward spiral of Austin and December’s relationship. Cord was sucked in even though he tried to stay out of it. He attempted to keep his distance because his emotions for Ember ran too deep. Both Ember and Austin are his friends and he holds onto his honor until Austin asks the unthinkable and Ember is broken.
There is a lot of emotion in this book. At first I sorta sneered at the antiquated relationship Austin and Ember shared because I cannot imagine giving over so much control to a partner. There are so many reasons why it doesn’t work nowadays, and one of those reasons is used in the story. The majority of the story is told from Ember’s point of view, though Cord’s POV came a close second. We don’t get to see too much into Austin’s head but what is given shows the issues he’s dealing with, and you can see there is more to the problem than just the drinking. I have to admit, I don’t like Austin very much. I sympathize with what he’s going through and the author’s depiction of an alcoholic is spot on with the selfishness and blame. I tried to be more sympathetic to him but what he does towards the end to both Ember and Cord, I know I wouldn’t forgive him. I’m interested in seeing how both Cord and Ember handle him in the next book of the trilogy.
Of the three, I loved Cord the most. It’s hard not to. He’s kind, compassionate, funny. He carries his own demons when it comes to both Austin and Ember and he tries to hold himself separate. There was this scene at about 70% where Cord goes shopping for Ember. His thoughts, the stuff he buys, and the resulting conversation with Ember had me laughing out loud. My heart twisted for Cord when Austin had his say. Not once did Austin think of how it would impact and hurt Cord. I was furious. Then later, when Ember came to him, I was mad at her from not thinking of how her actions would hurt Cord as well. Idiots. But I liked Cord’s revolve even though he was conflicted over Austin.
The story ended with Austin’s POV and all it did was make me more angry with him. He deserves whatever is coming and I hope it’s painful. Sure, he hurt Ember beyond measure but not once did he think of Cord. I hope that changes in this trilogy. Cord deserves better regard from both Ember and Austin. It makes me apprehensive about book two. I don’t want to be disappointed if the story doesn’t go where I hope it will, but I still can’t wait to get my hands on Lost Together.