The Gift of Shayla by N.J. Walters
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Before taking my 2-star rating at face value, you should know that I don't like ménage stories. So why have I decided to read this book, since the book blurb and cover make it clear this is a ménage story?!? Well, I don't like pointing the finger at anyone, but this was all Auntee's fault! ;) She thought the M/M angle of the story would be enough to make me overlook the ménage scenario and, to be fair, I thought so too. Sadly, it didn't work quite that way...
Adam Lancaster and Rob McKeith have been best friends since childhood. The problem is, Adam has been in love with Rob for years, but he's never acted on it because Rob has never shown any sexual interest in him (or any other men, for that matter) and Adam is afraid of jeopardizing their friendship. As if that wasn't enough to make Adam's life miserable, he's also attracted to Rob's wife Shayla. Poor Adam! Is he destined to always pretend he isn't jealous of Rob and Shayla's relationship and never let them know about his feelings? Well, it's Christmas Eve, the season of miracles, and Adam is about to get a very special gift from his friends...
I like Ms. Walter's writing style - her Jamesville series is a special favorite of mine - and that was the main reason I read this book despite its premise. As expected, she was very good at showcasing Adam's love for Rob and angst over the situation he was in. I liked him and felt his pain, which surprised me because he was basically the "intruder" in a couple's established, committed relationship and I was prone to disliking him just for that. Good job there, Ms. Walters!
Unfortunately, that was the only saving grace in this book for me. I didn't feel Adam's attraction to Shayla was that strong and his saying that he "loved" her too when they had "the talk" didn't ring true. On Rob's side, his feelings for Adam were a bit confusing and I'm not sure he really knew what he was doing. It was like he was just following Shayla's direction. She was the one pulling all the strings, but she was also the one whose character was less developed in the book. Did she love Rob as much as he loved her? I don't know. Did she love Adam? I don't know. The whole "Shayla thing" was kind of strange to me.
As it was, I finished the book wishing Adam and Rob had gotten rid of Shayla and lived as a M/M couple happily ever after. That might have made me bump my rating up to 3 stars, who knows?
Note: I received this eARC from Carina Press via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.
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