Party of Three by Sandy Lowe is an erotic romance about three friends from high school who are attending a birthday party for their mutual friend, Eleanor McGregor. Over pre-party drinks at a dive bar they spy the birthday girl’s soon-to-be fiancé having sex with another woman.
Sarah Donovan just wants to have a good time. After a doomed relationship and a string of appalling first dates, she feels like she’s destined for celibacy. Her best friends recommend a hot and steamy one-night stand with a perfect stranger, but Sarah’s lost her confidence and is afraid of winding up with another woman she can’t satisfy.
Avery Anders could have her pick of eager, willing lovers, and occasionally she does, but she can’t seem to forget the long-ago accidental kiss with the one woman she couldn’t have – the birthday girl’s little sister Spencer. When they meet again, Spencer is all grown up and on her way to a master’s degree in sex therapy from the local university. Spencer still makes Avery hot under the collar, but she doubts Spencer has ever given her a second thought.
Kaitlyn Forrester is, and always will be, a hopeless romantic, despite the fact that the love of her life, Becca, walked out on her when they were teenagers. When the heartbreaker shows up at the party, Kaitlyn initially sees red, but she can’t deny the physical attraction that still simmers between them. Kaitlyn might be willing to forgive, but can her body forget how Becca used to make her feel?
The champagne is flowing, the gowns are clinging, and expectations are running high. Sarah, Avery, and Kaitlyn know they need to tell Eleanor about her errant boyfriend’s not so subtle tryst; they just haven’t figured out how to do it. Between love, lust, and doing the right thing, could this party change their lives forever?
Victoria: Are these characters likable? Sure, they are. They’re all young, gorgeous, smart, and have the fashion sense of runway models. They also have good hearts so it was fun to follow their escapades.
Sarah is that friend that always comes up with the most outrageous ideas and doesn’t have much of a filter. Let me rephrase, she has no filter, and she adds a lot of humor to this story. Her back story is compelling and shows how a bad relationship can have long-lasting effects. When she decides to hide in the kitchen rather than be forced to make small talk with people she has no interest in, she gets the opportunity to put her baking skills to good use. She also gets her flirt on with the head chef Ryan. Firsts, she misgenders Ryan, but it’s not long before the heat between them is more intense than the heat in the kitchen. Considering her current insecurities, I couldn’t wait to see if she was going to give Ryan a chance.
Avery is that friend that’s steadfast and always quick to stand up for her friends. She also happens to be deliciously dapper. She can pretty much take her pick of lovers, but she has a very honorable streak and doesn’t like leading women on. While she’s had her fair share of sexual high jinx, Spencer has always taken up a big part of her heart. I love how humble Avery is. It never occurs to her that Spencer might share her feelings, and when she finds out, she is the perfect gentlewoman. The last thing she wants is Spencer jumping into bed with her before she’s ready. I admire her gallant sensibilities.
Kaitlyn is that friend that’s grounded and doesn’t do anything without thinking it through. I imagine she’s the one who’s kept Avery and Sarah out of trouble in the decade they’ve been friends. She runs a million-dollar nonprofit organization, and while a night of unbridled sex sounds like a nice distraction, she’s holding out for “the one”. She’s thrown for a loop when she bumps into Becca at the birthday party. As they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. (Yay, one more saying I’ve always wanted to use!) Her heart and body are at war as she tries to reconcile the broken heart over Becca’s sudden departure from her life with the wanton need Becca brings out in her. I had an inkling how this was going to play out, but I kept turning those pages to see how things would end with them.
Tara: Victoria covered everything here so well that I’m just going to talk about my preferences. Overall, the characters worked well for me, including the love interests and even Eleanor, who goes from someone I wanted to smack to someone I actually felt sympathy for.
While I liked Kaitlyn’s story, I didn’t love it as much as Victoria did because I needed a lot more grovelling and trust building than can happen in a single night. Avery and Spencer’s story, on the other hand, was my personal favourite because it turns out that I’m a sucker for “I’ve loved you forever and ever and now I can’t hide my feelings anymore” stories (I didn’t even realize that about myself until I read this one). I also liked that it included a virgin who isn’t in high school and appreciated how that was handled.
The Writing Style
Victoria: Party of Three is paced perfectly, and the writing is top notch. Lowe does an excellent job of integrating the erotic scenes into an interesting plot without making them feel gratuitous. I think when sex scenes just appear out of nowhere or with little buildup, they take away from the narrative rather than spice it up.
Lowe’s dialogue is witty and flirty. It’s also raunchy when appropriate. Some of the one-liners from the main characters would make a drunk sailor blush, and I just happen to be fluent in drunken sailor. Most importantly, the main characters don’t all sound alike. That can really pull me out of a story as well as confuse me.
Tara: This was an ambitious project. Three novellas taking us through a single day and night, where three friends fall in lust and/or love, each of them getting a happily ever after or happy for now ending. I was curious about how well it would work, and was happy to have such an interesting and fun experience, going from one friend’s perspective to the next for each of the phases of the night.
Tara: It’s no secret that I’ve been a massive fan of Lori Prince’s narration this year, but this is truly my favourite performance by her yet. I have to applaud her because she somehow managed to differentiate all of the six leads, plus the other characters. This was already a great book, but the narration pushes it to a whole other level because she infuses exactly what’s needed in the moment, whether it’s gravitas, sexiness, humour, or anything in between. Hats off, Ms. Prince. I couldn’t have been more delighted with this performance and I will definitely be listening to Party of Three again.
Victoria: This is an erotic romance, and it delivers on both aspects. The story is a great combination of sexy and sweet. The sex scenes definitely qualify as erotica because they go into all kinds of yummy details, and they are not what you would find in a standard romance. These scenes are featured elements in the story rather than the culmination of a long courtship. The bonus is that while being graphic in nature, they all play a part in helping the main characters get to their happily ever afters.
Tara: Again, I totally agree with Victoria. Also, I’ll just reiterate that the narrative structure worked very well for me and that I’m team Avery/Spencer all the way!
Victoria: Don’t judge this book by the cover. The cover features three gorgeous femmes, but one of the main characters is a scrumptious butch.
Tara: I saw a lot of chatter about this book and threesomes. It didn’t deliver what I’d expected on that front at all.
Victoria: In the world of erotica, Party of Three is like a day at the fair – cotton candy sweet with plenty of fun rides. It’ll leave you exhilarated and a bit out of breath. I sped through this book in one sitting because everything clicked. It’s sexy, cool, and funny all at once. If you’ve never considered reading an erotic romance, this is the perfect novel to get your feet wet. There’s nothing overly kinky going on and it’s entertaining from the get-go. As one of the main characters says, “Sex [is] awesome,” and this novel captures that joyful sentiment. When you want to spend a quiet night in and need something a little more raucous than a Hallmark channel rom-con, check out Party of Three.
Tara: Party of Three is an incredibly fun book and it’s especially amazing in audio. I highly recommend it if you want something with a ton of feelings and sexy times, without any major angst.
Excerpt from Party of Three by Sandy Lowe
They stared at each other. The awkwardness like a fourth person in the conversation. Beck hadn’t changed much either. Same sandy hair that looked like the wind had picked it up and tossed it around, same buttery brown eyes that reminded Kaitlyn of toasted croissants and lazy Sunday mornings. Her mouth curved when she smiled, just the way Kaitlyn remembered. Beck had grown up of course, a suit now instead of jeans, a Rolex where her Timex had been. Some muscle to even out a frame that used to look lanky. Smart. Successful. Hot.
No. Not hot. Not even in the same…oh who was she kidding? Beck Delmar was hotter than Utah in July, damn her. She’d been forget-your-own-name sexy when they’d started dating at sixteen, and the not quite a decade between then and now had only honed her appeal. Kaitlyn firmly pushed aside the urge to strip naked in front of her. She wasn’t as successful in ignoring the flood of warmth that settled between her legs, and she cursed her stupid, traitorous body. Thank God they were in a public place and she couldn’t get away with it, because she was pretty sure the stripping urge would win and the last thing she wanted was to humiliate herself in front of Beck. Again.
What was it about Beck anyway? Kaitlyn was a grown woman, and she didn’t go around weak at the knees and damp in the panties for every attractive female. For any attractive woman. Except this one. The one that got away.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781635552461
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
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