Loving You Easy
Cora Benning’s hot online sex life collides with her shy and introverted real life as an IT consultant when she is nearly victimized as a result of a security breach in the game where she plays out her fantasies. When she takes her complaint to the company, she finds there’s much more than she expected – a complex security breach, which she’s hired to tackle, and an enticing pair of co-owners, Ren Muroya and Hayes Fox. This menage story has excellent moments and a very plausible setting. I was thrilled to see a dominant Asian-American as one of the two excellent heroes, and if the heroine didn’t quite do it for me, she didn’t ruin it, either.
Loving You Easy runs two plots: suspense and a love/sex triangle. Cora met Ren at a party where she saw him participating in a cuckolding fantasy, and the two had an instant connection which flares up again when she comes to his company. Lenore and Dmitry, Cora and Hayes’s online identities, have been engaging in an online affair. Ren and Hayes, close for over a decade, are taking the first steps into sexualizing their intimate and loving friendship (with each other; they’ve been in threesomes and so forth together before). If you hadn’t realized, yes, the “burning” rating on this is for real, even if the kink mostly comes from the bisexual threesomes and not the D/s that the marketing suggests.
The suspense plot falls into the “obvious villain” category, but the IT used to solve it is well-researched and credible to anybody who isn’t a professional (if you’re a pro, you’ll have to check for yourself – I’m not, so I can’t say). I liked watching Cora work her way through the technology to eliminate explanations and form a theory. I did find it questionable that she volunteered as a hacker for the police department – beyond the issues of liability and privacy for the police, I hate it when characters have money issues but work for free.
I started off this book liking it specifically for Cora, who is so uncomfortable in company that she can clear a table just by sitting down at it. It was fun to read an insecure geek and believable that she’d turn to an online environment to let out her sexual side. I bought that her moment of voyeurism with Ren was enough to let him see her mind instead of just her face. I liked how Hayes started to open up to her because, again, of her personality and her mind. But as the book went on, I had problems. She recounts that an ex took a picture of her and made a mean meme with it, and she responded by hacking his social media accounts and posting his sex secrets. First, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, but second, as someone with sex secrets herself, it felt wrong for her to expose one with which she’d been entrusted. The bigger issue was that she started to feel more like she wasn’t up to Ren and Hayes’s weight.
Hayes is terrified of expressing his dominant sexuality after someone used a BDSM scene to set him up for a rape charge. He served three years in prison before Ren got him legally exonerated, but the experience destroyed Hayes’s ability to trust someone not to betray him if he lets his dom side out. Ren spent time as a teen runaway, forced to have underage sex by an abusive man who duped him into mistaking this abuse for a dom/sub relationship. By contrast, Cora’s issue is that she’s, as said, awkward. She’s not conventionally feminine, preferring jeans and a t-shirt to dressing up, and she isn’t busty or blonde. Although Cora isn’t a virgin, she’s a D/s virgin, so her relationship with the men starts to feel like a “healed by virgin” trope. The author tries to avoid this by pointing out Cora’s issues, but that backfires severely. At one point Cora reflects that she connects with Ren because he’d lived through some of his own horror, and felt like an outsider too. Um, no. Ren was groomed by a pedophile and bartered for abusive sex. Cora felt unattractive and had douche boyfriends. We are not on the same planet, here, trauma-wise.
Ren and Hayes, though, are a great couple, and I say this as someone who isn’t really an m/m reader. (Ren explicitly identifies as bisexual, whereas Hayes reads as generally straight except for Ren.) Each has been through hell and relied on the other to get put back together. As business partners, they complement each other. As lovers, they have the trust and history to be vulnerable and provocative but also to have fun together. Ren and Hayes have clearly been involved in very intense BDSM before, since the woman Hayes had a scene with was physically affected enough for the aggravated rape charge to stick, but the sex scenes they enact with Cora are barely beginner in that category (some spanking, etc). It’s another way I saw them as compatible but her as out of her depth. The heroes and the author keep telling us that they love Cora the way they love each other, but I didn’t feel it – not the way I felt the heroes’ love for each other shone clear through.
I was frustrated when Ren does something utterly TSTL in the last third of the book, and Cora enters Mary Sue territory as her successes get more awesome and her major character flaw of “awkwardness” falls by the wayside. There were typos in my advance copy, which will hopefully be sorted out. The most egregious was when Ren pressed his back to her front. She gasped at the feel of his erection against her backside. Either the author meant “his front to her back” or Ren has a prehensile penis.
Generally speaking, though, Loving You Easy is a well-written book. Sex scenes are not overly technical, dialogue is natural (especially conversations between the two men, which can be funny, frustrated, or sentimental), and scenes are well-paced. If you’re looking for a sexy threesome story with two great heroes, you’ll definitely find it here.