Title: We Three Kings
Author: A.F. Henley
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: 3/1/2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 168
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Chicago 1982 is a goldmine for the construction industry, and Eric and his two business partners are thriving. Once nothing more than orphans in a Catholic boys’ home, they’ve overcome poverty and abuse to obtain success. Now living the lives they once only dreamed of, they’re sure of one thing: they will never look back.
Then the past returns, by way of a cheap polyester suit and a smile Eric has never forgotten—and all the dark memories come crashing back. Lucky for him, Jimmy has no idea who Eric is, or who Eric used to be…
If it’s one thing I love it’s a good “enemies to lovers” story. I thought this was what this story would be about given the summary but that is a misnomer… in a very positive way. I enjoyed this story. Imagine being dumped in an orphanage ( in this case a Catholic one), struggling to survive (with your virginity intact) and the only solace is having best friends help each other survive the experience. That was the lives of Eric, Daniel and Mark. An experience the boys barely survived. An experience that solidified their unbreakable bond and friendship for life.
Eric, Daniel and Mark had a tough bully like exterior they developed as a result of the nurturing they received. The abuse at the boys home is mentioned but not overly detailed. Which I like cause it kept the story somewhat light. I wasn’t looking for an overly emotional angsty read. Eric, considered himself the worst bully of all. He tortured poor little Jimmy to the point he broke his finger. So imagine how Eric felt when Fate kicked him in the ass. Little Jimmy grew up to be one sexy man. A man Eric can’t help being attracted to. A man whom Eric fears will remember him as the boy that made Jimmy’s life hell.
Eric, Daniel and Mark grew up to be self made millionaire business partners running their own corporation. It’s a feat to be proud of to come from nothing to become millionaires. Jimmy’s presence forces Eric to reflect on his past and to think of the man he has become vs. the boy he once was. He is scared to reveal himself to Jimmy and I felt for him in those moments when he was tortured by memories from his past.
This story was entertaining but there were a couple hiccups that kinda took away from it. Daniel and Mark should have been fleshed out a little but more. They are on page a lot but they are one dimensional in comparison to Eric. The storyline is interesting but it needed a bit more “glue”. I liked the romance between Jimmy and Eric but Eric’s constant worries, overthinking kinda took away from it. There’s also not much sexy times on page.
This story is set in the 80’s and as we know AIDS ravaged the gay community. Heroine ravaged poor neighborhoods. I get wary whenever books mention this bleak period in American history because rarely do they “get it right”. There’s a scene involving AIDS and Trans people in the book that kinda rubbed me the wrong way. It was a teachable moment and the reason I’m irritated with it is because Eric says to paraphrase: “Using the term GRID insinuates that the illness is a gay problem and we both know that’s B.S., don’t make this an orientation issue.” I was beyond upset because if Stacy is more informed than the average person, hangs around gays and knows better according to Eric, then NO, I personally would not be so quick to forgive her but hey that’s just me and my weird quirks.
Outside of these little hiccups, We Three Kings , made me smile. I was happy for Eric and Jimmy by the end of the tale. All four boys came a long way since their orphanage days and to witness them beat the odds, friendship intact, made me smile.