This is the first book of the 4 book series, The Brown Siblings by Lauren Dane. I would advise starting with Laid Bare. Each book is standalone, but there is further character development of each main character.
Years before, Erin and Todd had a brief and intense affair. Erin was the free-spirited musician and Todd was the toughened cop who was not ready to admit his sexual dominance and commitment to the relationship. We fast-forward 10 years and Todd returns to town. They renew the relationship, but can Todd accept his dominant side and can Erin risk taking a chance on him again? Is she too broken to commit? As Erin becomes closer to Todd’s best friend Ben there is chemistry between the three. Is this something that they should explore, or will it ruin their relationship?
This book is about relationships; there is still drama and excitement but there is no mystery to solve. However, it is not a boring book nor is it a book of connected sex scenes. This is a thoughtful story that examines the following: budding Dominant/submission relationships, recovery from a traumatic experience (I don’t want to spoil that), and building a committed triad and the cultural repercussions of that relationship.
Erin’s character has a secret in the beginning of the book, something traumatic that took her away from out of the limelight the stage. She owns and runs a café to keep busy and continues to write music with her brother Adrian who is still a “rock-star”. She is the spunky, sarcastic, rocker who speaks her mind, yet has vulnerability that we eventually discover the reasons behind. I love her sassy dialogue:
I’m not with you for your magical cock, although I do enjoy it. I’m with you because you’re like a wish come to life.
I loved her inner strength and how she overcame her fears. There is a descriptive scene of a panic attack, and I could identify with both her fear and her anger at this debilitating fear that she knew was irrational. Her grit to just pick herself up and keep going inspires me.
She is a sexual submissive, and her relationship with Todd and Ben is very captivating. If you are new to reading BDSM in a romance, this is a suitable book to start. Ms. Dane, to me, does an exceptional job of explaining what motivates a submissive:
She had to have more. But if she pushed for it, demanded it, she’d lose the edge. It was that very thing that made her crave being dominated so much.
Todd is a Dominant and this book focuses on how he finally embraced this side. Ms. Dane does a superb job of portraying a man with this need, his struggle with the guilt, and finally how his self-acceptance liberates him.
Ben’s introduction to the story and the relationship was well done. We had time in the book for Erin and Todd in the first portion, but halfway the relationship between Erin and Ben unfolds. This was not a case of, “oh and here’s another guy that with which we have sex”. Each aspect of the relationship was well thought out. The interactions between Ben and his family were an emotionally gripping portion of the novel as he defended their lifestyle. How Ms. Dane deals with society and having a committed triad was honest and emotionally bare.
Both men were smoking hot, but in different ways. It was great to see how the three interacted and this gave me what seemed at least, a realistic view of how a triad would work. Other books that I have read, seemed like just an excuse to have more sex, “oh a threesome! I can write more hot sex scenes!” But Ms. Dane focuses on the people and the relationships, not on the positions.
How Lauren Dane handles male and male romantic scenes reminds me of a quote/interview from Angelina Jolie on her relationships with women. She said that she didn’t fall in love with a woman, she feel in love with the person. How Todd described Ben in their relationship describes it perfectly:
It wasn’t that Ben was male or female; it was that Ben was Ben. That’s what made him appeal so much.
The theme of the series revolves around love and acceptance.
What could be better?
Quite frankly, I can not think of anything that would make this a better book.
Ms. Dane understands the human condition and the value of family (however you define family). The honesty and trust between these three characters was so refreshing and it is so clear why the title is Laid Bare. In the end of the book, Erin, Todd, and Ben find acceptance, forgiveness, and love. These are things that we all search and it’s what makes a romance book so good.
This is probably one of my favorite books, and it is definitely one of my re-reads.
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