Author: Kate Sherwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 838 Pages
Category: Contemporary, M/M/M Romance
At a Glance: The well-built and likeable characters make these books worth reading…and re-reading. PLUS HORSIES!
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: Dan Wheeler thought he’d found lasting love and stability, but when it’s all taken away, can he take a chance on something new? In Dark Horse, Dan meets Evan Kaminski and Jeff Stevens while selling a horse and finds himself drawn to the pair of lovers. In Out of the Darkness, Dan is building a new life for himself in California with Evan and Jeff, but can the three of them find balance in their tumultuous relationship? In Of Dark and Bright, Dan, Evan, and Jeff have found their happily-ever-after—mostly—but when Dan’s long-lost sister shows up on their doorstep, the pressure may crack their foundations.
Review: So let me start with the part I didn’t like so I can move on to the gushing. I absolutely cannot stand when a book is written in present tense. It drives me crazy. It sounds robotic or clinical at worst, and at best, sounds a bit like a neurotic person narrating their own life as it’s happening. Sometimes in third person for that extra bump of crazy. These books are written in present tense. I was very sad for about 8 pages, then I got over it. Somehow, Kate Sherwood manages to avoid the worst of the robot/crazy person tone that present tense can bring to a work. I still don’t love that it’s written that way, but that’s about the only thing I didn’t love about these books. It is, however, why I handed out only 4 stars.
All right! Now to the good stuff.
Fair warning, and without getting too spoiler-y (it’s a word, shut up), be prepared to ugly cry in the first quarter of Dark Horse. DON’T LET THAT PUT YOU OFF! You’ve got three more quarters and two whole other books to console you.
After a rough childhood and a not-much-better early adulthood, Dan had finally found his place in life, training eventers with his lover in Kentucky (eventers are uber-athlete horses, if you’re not familiar with the term; think olympic riding). Dan’s carefully built life ends when a terrible accident occurs and changes everything; the story starts about a year post-accident.
The other two main characters are Evan and Jeff. Evan’s a young squillionaire (it’s a word, shut up) who’s not unfamiliar with tragedy himself. Jeff is an older, gentler artist who was a friend of Evan’s father (I promise that’s not weird in the book; no creep-o!). They’re in an open relationship, and they’re slowly starting to realize that openness is not really working for them anymore.
These characters, man. I love them. And you can tell Kate Sherwood loved them, too. Have you ever read a book and just known those characters were so fully realized and yammering away in the writer’s brain that they probably skipped the keyboard entirely and were just birthed right out of that author’s forehead and smeared across the page like some literary Athena? No? Just me? All right then.
Regardless, these guys are excellently fleshed out and distinct. It’s fun getting to know them as they get to know each other. Their personalities complement each other well, and they have some good dialogue. Dan is particularly relatable; which is good, since he’s our main POV. You get the inside track to all his anxieties and worries, his hopes for the future and pain over the past. The three men together are pretty magical, and I really enjoyed following the ups and downs of their growing relationship. It’s easy to cheer with them when it’s going well, and you better believe I was picking sides in their arguments (Danny 5EVER!). I’ve never had an author get me so involved that I’m agreeing with main character A, thinking he should break up with main character B WITHOUT making me dislike main character B (and C, in this case)! Then, five minutes later I’m thrilled that everyone’s staying together! I’m pretty sure that’s witchcraft or something.
You also get to meet and appreciate a fabulous cast of secondary characters, all of whom are just as lovingly rendered as the main trio. But the focus is really on the relationship between Dan, Evan, and Jeff. Family (and friends who are family) play a big role, but that family tends to orbit around the trio at the center. You get to watch these three men build a life together over the arc of the three books in the bundle, and it’s extremely satisfying.
While each book focuses on the relationship, they all highlight different points of that relationship arc. Dark Horse is all about beginnings. It really rocks that slow burn, which is pretty much my favorite way to have a romance unfold. The story gives the characters a believable span of acquaintance and plenty of good ol’ fashioned simmering attraction before the big moment, which I really appreciate. Out of the Darkness focuses on establishing the trio as a unit, working out logistics (emotional and physical – wink wink), and overcoming lingering doubts. Of Dark and Bright introduces the biggest stressor the trio has had to overcome yet, and forces the guys to either pull together to take the next step, or walk away.
And who could forget the horses?! I LOVE horses. So I was pretty much all in as soon as I heard Dan was a horse trainer. But for those of you who don’t know a ton about horses, you should still be okay. We spend a lot of time with Dan and the horses, so maybe have Google open so you can quick search a couple terms. But really, you’ll be fine. Like I said before, the books are about the relationship; the horses are just icing.
This bundle is definitely on my re-read list. 800+ pages of awesomeness, and BONUS! If you can’t get enough of these guys and their friends/family, head over to Kate Sherwood’s website and check out her links on the series. There are plenty of shorts that give you some insight into the pre- and post-story lives of all your new favorite characters. I may have (definitely) done that pretty much immediately after finishing the bundle.
You can buy the Dark Horse Bundle here: