Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Five-Sided Heart
AUTHOR: Max MacGowan
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 246 Pages
RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2016
Noah Trevelyan has lost his moorings. Disowned over his sexuality as a teenager, he hasn’t been back to his home on the Outer Banks since his fisherman father kicked him out. But when he returns for the Old Man’s funeral, he discovers his father left him the house and boat in his will. Noah must choose whether to stay or go, but he won’t be alone. There’s Ian, working to overcome the emotional scars left by a domineering ex-boyfriend, and Ty, a cheerful housekeeper who’s struggling to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken aunt. There’s Joshua too, running from the destruction of his old life, and Gabriel, who was once beaten and left for dead, and doesn’t know how to survive on his own.
Will they find in each other the strength and courage to keep living—and learn, together, how to love again? A polyamorous relationship is the last thing any of them expected to find in the Outer Banks, but it might be what they need most, and it might even be their redemption—if they can keep their group from breaking apart under the pressure.
I’m not sure how I overlooked this book when it was released last year. I’m a sucker for poly stories, although I’ll admit that I’ve very, very rarely come across one that starred more than three men and was more than just porn. I can only assume that I passed up on Five-Sided Heart at its release because I supposed this book would be something similar – a whole lot of sex with little story to back it up. But this story is anything but ordinary.
Luckily for me another reviewer requested this book a few weeks ago and found herself unable to enjoy it. And I understand why. I think of this other reviewer as the Queen of Angst. If she’s loved all over a book, then chances are I’m going to struggle to get through it without some sort of tearful breakdown. Considering the scars some of these characters are carrying around, both physical and emotional, there was surprisingly little angst here. Instead, while the story definitely kept my emotions in high gear, I was more happy and hopeful throughout. There are some extremely sad moments, but still, the feeling of hope prevailed. And sometimes you just need a story that leaves you feeling good without having to fight for it.
To say the author was feeling ambitious in creating this story is perhaps understating the effort it would have taken them to write a gripping tale with five main characters. And they are all equally “main characters”. I think this could be another reason the other reviewer I mentioned struggled with the book. I’m not gonna lie – it was hard to really get into the story. I assumed Noah was going to be the focus of the story and the other men would sort of…orbit around him, but instead each character was given equal page time. At first, it did annoy me. I wanted Noah. Just as I was connecting with his character the story switched to someone else, then as I was getting into their story, it switched points of view again. I was never confused by who was who, thankfully the author gave them distinctive names, but the author gave their characters such depth that it took longer than usual to feel something for them. Because there were five, obviously. Having said that, once I knew these men, I couldn’t help but fall in love with every single one of them. You know how normally you have a favourite main character, and sometimes in a ménage there’s a character you’d rather the other men ditched? Well, none of that was a problem here. There’s no way I could choose a favourite, and there’s no way you could point to a character and say – lose this one – because the story relies on the fact these five men fit together in a way that is perfect for all of them. Each man provides something, and each man gets something he needs, and I don’t know how on earth the author pulled off this feat but kudos to them.
So, I know that I said this book was more than just sex, and it is so much more, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some scorchingly hot encounters between these guys. I tend to prefer few sex scenes in my books, I think it takes a lot to wow me with a sex scene these days, but I must admit that these were some extraordinarily hot scenes. I mean, come on, five young guys in bed together – you had to suspect that the author would take full advantage of that. But again, I appreciated that even during the sex, it was always more than just sex.
I have a feeling that when I reread this – and I definitely will reread this – I’ll enjoy the beginning of the story a lot more because I’ll already know the characters. If you’re looking for a story that will make you feel good, a story with a ridiculously wonderful HEA, and a story that is certainly different from the usual, then may I suggest you give Five-Sided Heart a try.