Regina Fallon has been best friends with foster brothers Cam Douglas, Sawyer Pritchard, and Hutch Bishop since they were kids. A year earlier, their friendship turned into a steamy night of passion for the foursome that sent Reggie running. She's been avoiding the guys ever since. Reggie misses her best friends, but she fears the unconventional relationship that they want with her. She wonders how she can ever be woman enough to hold onto three very different men. But perhaps even more so she worries about what the people in her small town might think if word got around that she was living with three men. Even though there's no love lost between Reggie and her parents, her father is the mayor, and she herself is a police officer who's also in the public eye. When a crazed murderer tries to kill Reggie, the men immediately rush to her side in the hospital. They're determined to protect her and won't take no for an answer.
Cam, Sawyer, and Hutch are all madly in love with Reggie. They know that what they're asking is hard for her come to terms with, which is why they've allowed her some space for the past year. But with someone apparently out to get her, they're not going to sit idly by. Instead they take Reggie to the house they built just for her, not only to keep her safe, but also with plans to woo her into finally giving their relationship a chance. While the three men struggle with jealousies and balancing their time with Reggie, more bad things start to happen around their usually sleepy town. Little do they know that Reggie believes the killer is really targeting Hutch and that she is equally determined to keep all of them safe, which may put her in further danger.
I can say without a doubt that Be with Me is now one of my top three favorite erotic romances I've read to date. So often, I find that erotic romances are basically a sex-fest with little actual story or character development to speak of, which might account for why I don't read the genre more frequently. Be with Me most definitely does not fall into that trap. In fact, despite having three scrumptious, virile men as its heroes, there's no sex until nearly halfway into the book. After that the author certainly makes up for it, but not at the expense of the plot. I learned a few years back when taking a class on writing love scenes, taught by the incomparable Elizabeth Hoyt, that each love scene should reveal something about one or more of the characters and/or propel the plot forward. Maya Banks is a masterful author who definitely knows how to do this. Each love scene is perfectly placed for maximum story development, therefore making all of them integral to the plot. They also don't completely overwhelm the story. There's actually still a suspense sub-plot too in which it appears someone is trying to kill the heroine and which is deftly woven into the rest of the story. It was also equally well-written, because I was surprised by who the killer turned out to be and how that part of the story played out. Even with all of its super-steamy love scenes, Be with Me was a book with more depth and substance than many mainstream romances I've read, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Our heroine, Regina (nicknamed Reggie by her men), is a kick-ass police officer in a small Texas town about an hour away from Houston. She finished at the top of her class and is really good at her job. Many romance heroines I've read who are in similar positions seem to feel like they have a lot to prove and therefore can be really tough nuts to crack. This makes it difficult for me to relate to them, because they lack any feminine softness. Not so with Reggie. I really loved her as a heroine, because she seems to be secure and respected at her job, as well as confident in her abilities without being cocky. She's every bit as protective of her men as they are of her, but she knows how to dial it down a notch and simply accept their loving overtures. She can still be stubborn at times, much to their chagrin, but overall, I felt like she had a good balance between her softer feminine side and her kick-butt and take names career. This made her so much easier for me to relate to than many similar heroines.
Reggie has known and loved Cam, Hutch, and Sawyer for most of her life. They met and played together as kids, but things didn't become intimate between all of them until a year before the story begins. At that point, one of Reggie's typical nights with the guys became anything but typical when it took an unforgettably sexy turn. Ever since making love to all three of them at once, she's struggled with what she wants. She still loves all of them and misses them terribly, but she's scared of the kind of relationship they want from her. I felt like her fears were very realistic and understandable. She worries about making the other two guys jealous if she gives her attention to one. She worries about how she can possibly be all things to three very different men. And she worries about what others might think of her, knowing that with small-town gossip, word will surely get around that she's "shacking up" with three guys, and what that might mean for her career. Reggie also struggles to some extent with feeling worthy of the love and attentions of the three men, because she's never really experienced the kind of love and devotion they're offering her in her life. Her parents were extremely wealthy and hands-off while she was growing up, and even now that she's an adult, they seem more worried about their own reputation than about her safety. I really enjoyed seeing how Reggie overcame all her fears and doubts and how much she grew as a person as the story progressed.
And now on to her three scrumptious men.:-) Cam, Hutch, and Sawyer all had rough childhoods. If I remember correctly, it was when they were around ten years old that they all came to live with their foster mother, Birdie, who is the sweetest lady and an absolute saint. It wasn't until then that they finally understood what it meant to be unconditionally loved by someone. They had all been headed down a rocky path, but Birdie's love turned them around. Although unrelated by blood, they consider each other and Birdie to be their only family now. The three boys met Reggie while playing outside on the border of Birdie's property and Reggie's parents' property. In spite of being from opposite sides of the track, they became inseparable best friends until the day they made love with her and she went running scared. The three men have all built a life together as the owners of a construction company and now they've built a house, Reggie's dream house, in hopes of one day convincing her to be their one and only love.
I'll start with Cam who was my favorite of the three guys, because he embodies many of my favorite qualities in a man. He has long hair, wears glasses, and is highly intelligent. He's an architect who designs all the buildings for their construction company. He's pretty much the peacemaker of the three, always trying to be the calm voice of reason and smooth things over when circumstances get heated. He's also very gentle and tender and knows how to sweet-talk a lady and treat her right. I love that he's not vastly experienced in the bedroom and that he's been celibate since the night they had their foursome, knowing that there's no other woman for him besides Reggie. Cam, IMHO, leans more beta, but he has a couple of sexy moments where he gets his alpha on. Overall, Cam is basically my dream man. Yum!;-)
Hutch is a very, very close second. He's had a thing for Reggie since they were just kids and she decked both of his brothers for making fun of him. He's always kind of thought of Reggie as his, so he has to make a few adjustments in his thinking in order to accept sharing her with his brothers. Hutch is simply too sweet for words. He's even less experienced than Cam, not quite virginal, but certainly close. He's also been celibate, which I think shows how much he loves Reggie. Hutch is also the best cook of the three, and one way to a woman's heart (or at least mine anyway:-)) is through her stomach. Like with Cam, I thought Hutch was beta-leaning, but he has a couple of alpha moments when he goes to bat to protect Reggie. One of those times was admittedly misguided and stirred up some trouble amongst the foursome, but his reasons are deeply sympathetic. Hutch is a really wonderful guy, and in the end, I fell nearly as much in love with him as I did with Cam.
I'm sure a majority of readers probably preferred Sawyer, but I'm usually less inclined to fall hard for alphas. Sawyer is most definitely a pretty intense alpha male. He's kind of a he-man at times, and to emphasize that fact, he's a really big guy with a shaved head and goatee. Out of the three, he's the one with the overactive libido and kinky tendencies. What made Sawyer likable to me, though, is his vulnerabilities. He knows he isn't as sweet and gentle as his brothers, so he holds back from Reggie at first, not wanting to hurt her. She finally has to goad him into having sex with her, but she discovers a liking for his intense brand of love-making too. When things get heated with Hutch, Sawyer shows another kind of vulnerability that touched my heart. He can also dial down the intensity sometimes, and even though he doesn't think he's good with words, he could occasionally surprise both me and Reggie by saying nice things. Ultimately, I did like Sawyer too, just not quite as much as I like Cam and Hutch.
Where I think Maya Banks showed incredible mastery is in her characterizations. I loved how she explored all the emotions of a committed polyamorous relationship like what she was presenting. She doesn't shy away from jealousies or conflict between all the parties, but at the same time, she doesn't go overboard with it either. Things can get heated at times, but they all trust each other and take the time to work things out without silly misunderstandings. I loved the communication amongst all of them, and how they know that it's going to take hard work to maintain what they have just like any relationship would. I felt like there was a level of stark honesty between them, which I found refreshing. I also liked that they've all thought ahead to what might face them with regards to backlash from the community.
Be with Me was a pure pleasure to read, because of how much more depth it has than many other erotic romances I've read. There's a lot of meat to the story. I also loved the characters and thought they made the perfect foursome. Reggie is tough while also knowing how and when to give in to her men's TLC. And the guys... well all I can say is the only thing better than one hot, sexy romance hero is three.;-) I love how they take care of Reggie and look out for her safety, while not expecting her to change. It may bother them that she works in a dangerous profession, but they'd never ask her to quit. They also would never ask her to choose between them, which is why they chose this unconventional path. It also makes them all pretty close to perfection in my book. I loved every minute I spent reading Be with Me. It was my first book by Maya Banks, but most definitely won't be my last. I can't wait to delve into more of her work and hope that it's equally sinful, sexy, and filled with substance as this story was.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations which may offend some readers, including ménage a quatre, some bondage, a little spanking, and anal sex within M/F, M/F/M and M/F/M/M combinations.
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