by Maya Banks, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-564-0
Brazen is a ménage à trois story. It has a familiar premise for such a story: a heroine deciding that if she can have one of her two overprotective men to love, she may as well go ahead and have both of them at one go. Like many ménage à trois stories, this one is set in a ranch in Texas, which makes me wonder whether all these authors are trying to tell me something about that state that I am not aware of.
After a sojourn in Paris which taught her that two is better than one, 22-year old Jasmine "Jazz" Quinn returns to Houston. She thinks that she is a better and more sophisticated woman now so she's going to nab both Zane and Seth Morgan for her very own. Zane is the younger and more easy-going brother while Seth is the older and more serious one. They took her in when she was a sixteen-year old runaway about to embark on the oldest profession in the world and since then she's been living under their watchful eye. Perhaps that is why the two men still view her as a vulnerable little girl all this while.
It isn't so difficult for Jazz to get Zane to play with her, but this results in Seth becoming jealous. Oh no, has Jazz torn the two brothers apart for good? Will Seth ever get used to being naked in the presence of his brother? Stay tuned! Oh, and since the two men are brothers, don't expect the usual bisexual male-on-male action typical of such stories in Brazen. Maya Banks isn't that kinky as an author, heh.
While I have complained in the past that I don't particularly enjoy ménage à trois stories due to the lack of character development, I find myself enjoying Brazen more than I expected because the author does a good job with Seth's emotions as he struggles to reconcile his feelings towards Jazz with the fact that Jazz and Zane are playing together in bed. In fact, Seth is the most well-developed character in this story since the bulk of the obstacle to the happily ever after comes from him. I personally prefer Seth to Zane since Zane is a pretty dull and underdeveloped character compared to Seth and Seth is a far more appealing take-charge type of hero. I have a hard time buying Jazz's claims that she loves both men equally or that the secondary characters in this story can accept Jazz wanting to have both men without blinking an eye (must be a Texan thing?), but there are enough psychological insight especially into Seth to make the relationship in this story quite believable.
The love scenes are very hot too, especially considering that the two men are taking great pains not to touch each other, heh, which naturally makes this book more enjoyable.
I can't say I am an authority in ménage à trois romances since I often go out of my way not to read them due to the lack of character development I often encountered in these stories. Brazen, however, is easily one of the best of those stories that I have read.
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