Monday, February 15, 2010

Pyke's Peak by Chris Owen

TITLE: Pyke’s Peak
AUTHOR: Chris Owen
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 31k)
GENRE: Contemporary menage erotic romance
COST: $4.95

The relationship Pyke has with his two best friends is easy and uncomplicated. He loves both of them, the sex is great, and everybody’s happy. Mostly. The thing is…Pyke wants more. He wants the three of them to live together, so he goes out and buys what he thinks is the perfect house for them. Shea is on board almost immediately, but Laurel is harder to convince, especially when Pyke and Shea decide their commitment to each other needs to be more defined…

The one aspect of this story that I enjoyed the most is also its single biggest flaw. This is the story of three twentysomethings, two bisexual men and a woman, all best friends. They have an easygoing camaraderie between them that mirrors a lot of friendships I saw in college and the first few years afterward – a mutual respect and genuine liking that occasionally got really great sex thrown into the mix. At the story’s start, they’ve never done anything all together, but during the first scene between Pyke and Laurel, she expresses the desire to watch Pyke and Shea together. This pretty much jumpstarts all of Pyke’s fantasies. He decides to move things onto the next step, and using winnings from a recent lottery win, purchases an old, eccentric house for the three of them to share.

The amiable back-and-forth as well as the genuine affection between the trio sets the tone and rhythm of the entire story, and I’ll admit straight off, I loved that part of it. It felt like a window into the lives of three people I might have known at one point in my life, with authentic dialogue and believable reactions. But this sense of unfocused everyday is also the story’s greatest flaw. Outside of buying the house, nothing much really happens. It all feels very fly on the wall and episodic, rather than having any cohesive plot arc. The house provides a point of focus for many of their actions, but there is never any sense of urgency that demands I get over-involved with the characters’ emotions. I zipped through the story with the feeling of hanging out with friends, and while it adds a certain real quality to their characterization, it also makes them feel remarkably ordinary.

Pyke’s determination to get the three of them into a relationship tends to overshadow actual development of the relationships as they already stand. His scenes with Shea have a rushed quality, like he’s doing what’s necessary until he can get what he truly wants, while we get no perspective from Shea or Laurel on how they perceive things to be happening (except through the rather clichéd mechanism of eavesdropping). Considering the story’s length and simple presentation, it would have been easy to add more to it without negatively impacting the real-life quality it seems the author was aiming at. More explanations and further evidence of why exactly they should be a threesome (rather than Pyke’s incessant telling the reader that’s the way it should be) would have turned this from an enjoyable ménage into an extraordinary one.

I still enjoyed it, though, for what it was – an effortless, appealing story about friends in love.


8/10 – An easy, loping rhythm that felt completely in synch with the story’s tone


7/10 – It wasn’t so much sexy as it felt genuine, they felt like real friends


7/10 – Remarkably real, while remarkably ordinary

Entertainment value

7/10 – I liked the real life feel it had, though the lack of very much happening kept it unfocused

World building

7/10 – The house is the most real aspect of this, as it was meant to be, I’m sure



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