Sharing Hailey (Lovers and Friends, #1) - Samantha Ann King
I've been wanting to read a book with a polyamorous relationship for awhile, unfortunately this sort of thing is impossible to find outside of erotica. When I saw this one listed on NetGalley I jumped on it because the synopsis was interesting and I always hope I'm going to find something I like. Unfortunately, I didn't with this book. The rest of this has slight (maybe) spoilers and definitely NSFW words…The biggest compliment I have for this book is that there are far less sex scenes than I thought there would be. I detest erotica that teases a flimsy pretense of a plot simply to string sex scenes together or teases an actual plot that the author drops almost completely in favor of a constant stream of sex. King didn't do that. In fact, 30% of the book goes by without sex. She even jumped over the implied scenes to continue with the plot. I loved that. This fact alone pulled this up another star. I was hoping that 30% section of the book without smut would have stretched all the way through the end as this is probably the least erotic erotica I've read in a long time. If anyone had watched me read this they probably would have thought I was watching the scariest horror film out there. There was full body cringing, squeaking, reading through my fingers, shuddering, and head shaking. It was that painful. I hate, with a bloody passion, the word "sex" as a euphemism. That is not what it's called! That's what you do with it. Anytime I read the world used that way I cringe, gag, and am pulled right out of the story. Sadly, that was the primary word used for "vagina" in this book. There are some interesting phrases used for "clit" as well. But then King would switch and become oddly technical using mons, clitoral hood, labia, vulva, vagina, anus… don't get me wrong, I'm glad she can use those words instead of something as moronic as "down there" and it's certainly better than awful euphemisms, but the switch between the two was somewhat jarring. Then there was Hailey's "juices". Every time, all the time, with the woman's juices. I swear I will not be able to stomach juice of any type for a long time.Ignoring word choices the erotic writing wasn't all that enticing either. And there were silly things like her G-spot being easier to find than Waldo in an empty field, or her having intense pain the first time she's penetrated anally with one finger but the second time she's able to take a penis with no pain whatsoever. I know for some people none of this will be a problem, and good for you if it isn't, but it was just plain bad for me. This is part of why I have no desire to read erotica now. I don't need a tab A into slot B manual on sex. I'd rather you skip the jargon and go for the emotions. The book was more tolerable outside of the smut but it was still mediocre at best. I don't think I was even 10% into the book when I was struck with the thought that I was going to hate Hailey. In the end I didn't hate her as much as I have other heroines, but she did a damn good job of getting on my nerves. Unfortunately, the book was third person limited to her point of view so we're stuck with her. I'm just grateful it wasn't in the first person. I might have set my computer/iPad on fire. When you get right down to it, she was a Mary Sue. We get a paragraph out of her in the beginning talking about how average she is. Average eyes, average hair, average looks and why oh why would any hot guy ever look twice at her?! Then the rest of the book, of course, person after person waxes on about how gorgeous she is. Every man wants her and leers at her. Random strangers call her a Jennifer Aniston look-alike! Not her men though, they tell her how much prettier she is.So cue her surprise at the beautiful Tony and Mark actually wanting to be with her. It's shocking, I tell you! Never mind that they had been pretty overt in their attention and gestures toward her for years (especially the reasoning for how the three of them somehow ended up in Albuquerque together), she was absolutely sure they thought of her as a sister. She was just a little to thick to get it. There were a lot of things she was a little to thick to understand, like not getting out of cars and running out of doors into the direct line of danger. Then there was her thoughts on certain subjects. I'm not one to really care about calling out slutty behavior. But let's leave it to actual slutty behavior. Reading this girl refer to herself as a slut (or questioning whether everyone was thinking she was one) over and over grated on every damn nerve I have. She wasn't throwing it at every guy that came in the picture, she was in a monogamous, loving relationship with two men. I can maybe understand it being natural to question yourself when entering into a relationship of this nature, but this was ridiculous and overkill. I went back and did a search and I'm actually shocked that there was only eleven instances of "slut" in the book. It felt like much more and I was rolling my eyes and grinding my teeth each time. I also wasn't fond of the way she spoke of victims of domestic abuse. I can very much understand the, "This is not my life" sentiment but it's not a lack of intelligence, education, etc. that causes women to end up in abusive relationships. She had a realization that should have made that obvious to her. It should have made her understand how it happened to her, and therefore how it happens to other women, but she still thought the same way.There was nothing really wrong with Tony and Mark. And that was sort of the problem. They were too perfect. They were perfect looking guys with perfect bodies. They were perfect friends and perfect boyfriends. Tony is an amazing pediatric surgeon. Mark was perfect at law school until he dropped out because he never wanted to go. Now he's a successful artist. They both fall for their best friend's little sister and they both have no problems entering into a relationship together. And for some odd reason they always seemed to be wearing the exact same outfit, which really highlighted the fact that they were essentially the same person. The only differences we're given is that one is conservative and the other liberal. And this really weird situation where one was completely freaking out about possibly, maybe having bisexual tendencies (which was a really cruel MMF tease, by the way). I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with wish fulfillment fantasy but it can be done with realistically flawed characters as well. They got to be a little more real toward the end, although Hailey never let us forget about the perfect orgasms they give her every. single. time. I felt like King couldn't make up her mind on certain aspects of the story so the characters would go back and forth in a way that confused me, especially in the first chapter. They're all Texan, their Longhorn v. Aggies arguments made that abundantly clear, the "y'all" coming from them constantly was unnecessary. There were no other indicators of a Texan dialect/accent, so that being the only one felt very forced. Nor were the activity blow-by-blows needed. She walked out the door. Walked to the car. Opened the door. Got in. Put on her seatbelt. Turned on the ignition. Pulled out of the driveway. Goodness! It gets tedious.The abuse storyline seemed to go from zero to sixty in no time. Hailey had broken up with Daniel at the first instances of the abuse becoming physical, so it going the way it did so quickly didn't make a lot of sense to me. That said, I didn't entirely mind the way the end played out, it was just convenient. The story dealt with some of the issues in being a poly relationship but only in the most superficial way. There was a lot of concern over what would happen when people found out but Jake, Hailey's brother, was the only one who objected to the relationship. And he really only reacted like any older brother finding out his best friend was sleeping with his little sister (just times two). His acceptance came very quickly. Something prompted it, but it was, again, rather convenient. No one else, however, batted an eye. Hell, most people were relieved! Their being together presented a problem when it came to going to court, but oddly not so much when it came to being in the hospital (Tony being on staff there notwithstanding). The relationship itself was kind of all over the place. We were told they were all in love with each other for a long time, even though it didn't come to light until the events of the book but the how or why of it was never shown. The guys come right out of the gate with marriage for some reason, probably to have the discussion of how it would work, if at all. Thankfully, that was rejected as coming too soon, but then they're thrust into a situation where they're living together for awhile. I will give some credit that they did kind of address that issue instead of going full steam ahead without thinking. I think I would give a non-erotica King book a try, but I won't look to read anything else from her in this genre.I was provided an ARC of this book through NetGalley.