Emily Moore's Reviews > Triad

Triad by Cat Grant
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Aug 19, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010-reads, tdb-reviews, bisexual, ebook
I own a copy

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I’ve read each book in the Courtland Chronicles series written by Cat Grant, and Triad is the fifth and final book about Eric, Nick and Ally. As the final in a series, this book is very much an epilogue, a chance to catch up with the characters and to resolve things that were left outstanding after previous books. Although there are five books in the series, the middle three are really prequels to the first book, The Arrangement. Triad is a continuation of the story, picking up ten years after that book ended.

For readers that aren't familiar with the other books in the series, here's a general recap. In The Arrangement, we met Eric Courtland, his wife Ally, and his lover Nick. The book dealt with the relationship between Eric and the others, and Eric’s struggle with being bisexual and loving both Ally and Nick. The second book, Strictly Business, goes back in time just a bit, and Eric has been in a slightly strained relationship with Nick for several years. After the death of his father, Eric gets involved with Brandford Crane, a relationship he definitely comes to regret, and in the end turns back to his deep love for Nick.

By Chance is the third book and tells of the beginning of the relationship between Eric and Nick, when they were paired together as roommates at college. The fourth book is Complications where Eric and Nick's relationship has just ended and Eric ends up in a relationship, and marriage of convenience, with college friend Ally. Of course marriages of convenience never end up being "convenient" and deepening emotions and Nick end up causing a few bumps in the road.

Following the timeframe of the stories, the chronological order is By Chance, Strictly Business, Complications, The Arrangement and finally Triad. Quite different from the publication order. I personally read the books as they were published but I think it would be quite interesting to read in chronological order. Of course, reading the blurb for The Arrangement, you will know what the end result of the three prequels is but the books are still enjoyable.

In The Arrangement, Eric, Ally and Nick find a common ground, and a relationship that encompasses all three. Looking for a place that could accept them all as a unit, they all moved to a Tuscan villa, where they have been living happily together for ten years. Triad picks up with the trio in the future, where as of 2016 the European Union has voted to legalize multiple-partner marriage. Thanks to that, they’ve become husband, wife, and husband, cementing the relationship that has flourished over the years.

While celebrating the happiness of the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, Nick’s book publisher demands he do a publicity tour for his new release in the US. Since they have made a pact not to travel without one another, Eric and Ally decide to accompany him. When they arrive, one thing after another starts to happen to them that threatens their way of life, and their marriage. They have to find a way to work through things together, and decide what their future will look like in the face of so many changes.

Triad is an entertaining read, based very much on an idealized hope for what the future will bring. In light of the current struggle for gay civil rights, it’s necessary to suspend disbelief a bit to accept that any government body would be willing to legalize multiple-partner relationships, but for the setting of this books it’s understandable and not too difficult to accept. The writing flows well making this a quick and easy read. There were a few quirks that most readers probably wouldn’t notice like the overuse of the epithet “his husband” instead of a character’s name, but in general the story is clean and well executed. The plot is filled with angst, and Eric, Nick and Ally are possibly having the best and worst year of their lives together. So many things happen within the span of a few months that it borders on unbelievable. Where a story could easily be based on just one major event, here there are several going on at once. The benefit to the high level of angst is that it definitely makes this a page-turner, as it’s hard to stop reading when you’re desperate to know what happens next but it does disconnect from reality just a bit.

Having read four previous books means that these characters are very familiar, and their characterization within this story is in line with what has already been established. They each have a “role” within their relationship that they play, and that is reinforced here. Without being familiar with the rest of the series, readers might be slightly lost or feel like they are being dropped into the middle of a story already in progress. I highly recommend having at least read The Arrangement prior to reading Triad to understand what Eric, Ally and Nick have been through to find happiness with one another.

There is plenty of sex, and while there is never repetition within the scenes, I found that the abundance of erotic material at the beginning was a bit cumbersome. The prose got a bit flowery for me, with some choices like “diddle” and “raping Eric’s mouth with his tongue” and “their hands Braille-read every inch of her” a bit distracting. The reintroduction of the characters was done through a string of sexual encounters, and while I enjoy that connection between the three, what I was more looking forward to was jumping into the plot. Once I got past the beginning, I was able to become much more immersed in the story. Readers should be aware that this is a ménage story, and as expected there is sexual interaction between everyone. Ally gets to participate just as much as Eric and Nick do and a healthy balance is created.

As I said, this is a ménage story, which is clear from the cover image and the blurb. Eric is a bisexual male, which is the basis of most of the series as he loves both a man and a woman and struggles to find a way to balance those two loves. Nick is also bisexual in that he loves Eric and has come to love Ally just as much. This story can be marketed as a bisexual story, but what really must be emphasized is that this is a ménage, and is not necessarily a view of a “typical” bisexual relationship. The majority of bisexual people are engaged in relationships with a single partner, and being in a polyamorous relationship is not the norm.

What I’ve struggled with the most is a line from the very beginning of the book, “Once the Supreme Court rules on that bisexual rights case in a few months, the question of multiple-partner marriage will be moot.” This seems to imply that bisexual rights are synonymous with the right to be in a multi-partner relationship, and that by extension a bisexual person cannot be truly happy without both a man and a woman to love. This is a stereotype that is perpetuated by so many people that do not understand bisexuality, and I hesitated greatly when I read that line, especially as a bisexual myself. I enjoy ménage stories, but I enjoy them for what they are. To purport that bisexual rights inherently means multiple partners does a great disservice to the many bisexuals that enjoy single partner marriages and partnerships. In reading this story, it is necessary for readers to keep in mind that first and foremost this is a ménage story with bisexual characters, but that bisexual rights are much more aligned with gay and lesbian rights ~ the right to marry and love the person, no matter of gender.

Overall I enjoyed the story and was happy to see how these three overcome their issues to find happiness with one another. I recommend this book for anyone who has read the rest of the series, especially The Arrangement. If you're new to the series I would suggest starting with either The Arrangement or one of the prequels to get an idea of both Grant's writing style and the characterizations. This series is one of the better options in the ménage category, as it's not simply a rehashing of the "two guys are together and decide they want a woman too" plot. Here we have a bisexual male who struggles with how to balance his love for both a man and a woman. It's never easy and simple, but the result is a series that is worth reading.
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