Review: Finding Their Balance by M.Q. Barber (Neighborly Affection #5)

Note: This ARC was provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rising to her feet, she wobbled not from the height of the heels but from the force of their love. Henry paraded his in a cloak thickened by confidence and unsullied by jealousy. Jay's longstanding assertions of non-jealousy manifested in more than abstract notions. His satisfied pride lived in her now, the meaning and purpose guiding her life. Bonds they each shared as pairs added depth to the relationship they built as a triad, a truth shaped by all of their needs and desires.

Books that are about ménage à trois relationships are sometimes complicated for me to read. I end up having these thoughts in my head about whether or not one pairing is closer than the other pairing and if one particular pair being intimate while the third member of their triumvirate isn't present would be considered cheating. Yes, I admit that I tend to be skeptical about these kinds of relationships, so when I read books about them, my enjoyment level tends to flip-flop because I've got that voice in my head telling me that the story is too fantastical and that relationships like threesomes don't really work. And then I met Henry Webb, Jay Kress, and Alice Colvin, and while their love story has evolved into more than Neighborly Affection, this is one ménage involving three people who made me believe that love can truly exist among them. Their relationship has been chronicled over the span of four full-length novels and one novella, and in Finding Their Balance, the fifth full-length novel in the series, they continue their journey.

It's been nearly a year since Henry, Jay, and Alice entered a three-sided relationship and while it's had it's ups, it's certainly had its downs as well. After all, these are three very different personalities who have their distinct ways of thinking and feeling. Alice being the new member in the relationship is used to dealing with problems and stressful situations exclusively on her own, and while she has had other relationships in the past, she has more to consider than the emotions and sensitivities of just one other person. She's set in her ways, but she's willing to make the necessary adjustments, and both Henry and Jay are more than patient as she finds her footing. But surprisingly, it isn't just Alice who's keeping what goes on inside the home they share completely separate from the rest of her life, and this is just another discovery that has Alice analyzing the ins and outs of their relationship. The story is told from Alice's third-person point of view, so we do get lots more of her inner thoughts and feelings than Henry's or Jay's.

There's quite a bit of realization that Alice comes upon in this latest addition to the Neighborly Affection collection, especially when it comes to their dealings with the fetish club they're all a part of and Henry's and Jay's relationships with Emma (whose last name I don't recall being mentioned in the books...either that or my memory is simply failing me at the moment), who has always been one of my favorite supporting characters, along with William, also known as Will and nicknamed "Santa". There's also a resolution--one that I hope is final--when it comes to a lingering bad memory in the lives of Henry, Jay, and Alice. I must say that it was a resolution that was a long time coming and I loved how it all turned out in the end. The relationship shared by the three main characters is a precious one and there's no denying that it's still in transition, even a year in. Speaking of transition, as in love as these three are with each other, I do wonder how receptive Alice's and Jay's families will be to this very non-traditional relationship.

I make no secret of the fact that among the three main characters, Henry and Jay are my favorites. Maybe it's because their story in Becoming His Master, the fourth full-length novel in the series, was so beautifully told and was such a heartrending but inspiring read. I love the generosity of spirit these two have and how patient and understanding they are with Alice's adjustment. They're so different yet they simply make sense together and I highly doubt that either of them would ever know how to fully function if they were ever to decide to end things. Then there's Alice, who is the middle ground of sorts, both submissive and dominant, she has become the one person able to share the sense of responsibility Henry carries with him when it comes to the man they both love dearly--Jay. Together, the three of them discover their own kind of harmony, a symmetry that may not be easily understood by many, but a remarkable one nonetheless. I, for one, need more of this trio. Five-plus stars for Finding Their Balance. ♥

Release Date: 01 March 2016

Date Read: 28 March 2016

Learn more about M.Q. Barber.

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