Paradise is just an illusion…
Or so Philip thinks as he vacations on exotic Anguilla. He should be celebrating the end of law school and the start of his successful career, but he’s tired of living a lie for his family’s sake. For just one night, he lets down his guard with two men he thinks he’ll never see again.
He isn’t the only one with secrets. For years, Cameron Drake has suppressed his need for dominance, afraid of hurting his lover, Mark Wilder. But when Cameron’s hand meets Philip’s ass, there’s no more pretending. Mark can’t face his conflicting feelings about the ménage; does Cameron want more than Mark can give?
The three of them may have been perfect together but consequences follow them back to their real lives. Will their desire for another encounter shatter the illusions they’ve built to protect themselves or clear the obstacles to paradise?
It’s July 2010 and as Paradise Found opens readers find themselves visiting the beautiful, peaceful island of Anguilla. Mark and Cameron have been in a committed relationship for two years and their sex life has been waning for some time so they have taken a vacation to the island, to try and reconnect and are on the lookout for a man who they are both attracted to and may be agreeable to a threesome. The idea is that a wild night of pleasure may assist to infuse some much needed spice into their intimate life.
Philip is on a post college vacation in Anguilla and is trying to shore up his fortitude before returning to Boston and entering into the family law firm. He is extremely morose about fulfilling his family’s expectations as it requires him to suppress his sexual identity. In fact, his father considers homosexuality to be a deviation. Then along comes Mark and Cameron who are both attracted to Philip from the moment they spot him and after introductions, some banter and a few drinks, the invitation to engage in a night of carnal pleasure is presented.
What happens during their hot erotic encounter (the love scenes in this novella are sexually explicit) leaves all three men reeling. Mark learns things about his lover’s sexual preferences that he previously was completely unaware of. Philip is a natural submissive, Cameron is a dominant and has suppressed this predisposition for a long time. Cameron is a man with deep secrets which he has kept from Mark because of shame and fear of hurting his lover. When making love to Philip, however Cameron’s dominant tendencies come rocketing to the surface.
The morning after their night of passion proves extremely difficult for all three men. Philip sees a bleak future ahead having to play the roll of a heterosexual to please his family and not bring ‘shame’ to the law firm. He too has learned things about his sexual needs during the encounter with Cameron and Mark which makes his return to Boston even less palatable. In addition, he has developed strong feelings for the couple. How could he not? However, Philip does what is expected of him, represses his sexuality and leaves the island to meet his fate.
As for Cameron and Mark? Instead of improving the intimacy in their lives the ménage causes a communication rift the size of the Grand Canyon and I questioned how they were going to repair the damage and reconnect. In addition, Cameron is struggling with guilt over what happened with a previous lover and the needs that the ménage experience with Philip and Mark rekindled in him. Mark also struggles with his own set of issues related to his role in the threesome, needs it awakened and fear of losing Cameron.
What I really liked about this story was Ms. Raines’ characterization of Philip. A brilliant attorney, Philip comes alive in front of a jury, proving himself a valuable asset to the family’s law firm. Further he finds a calling in volunteer work, helping people in need of legal assistance at a local shelter. In essence, Ms. Raines matures and strengthens this character over the course of the story. However, his lack of personal happiness is palpable and I was so relieved when Philip finally takes matters in hand and makes plans to see Mark and Cameron again. I cheered when he stands up to his bigoted Neanderthal of a father. When the three men do meet again after a year it is Philip who is the catalyst and mediator in helping them to work through some very complex relationship issues.
I found Paradise Found to be a moving contemporary m/m/m story that tugged at my heartstrings more then once. Ms. Raines touches on a number of themes and there are BDSM elements. My one niggle was Mark. I struggled somewhat with his role in the threesome and didn’t quite see how he fit in especially given a scene at the end of the story that was bothersome for me. However, I felt Paradise Found was an extremely well plotted story heartfelt story and I liked Cameron, Mark and Philip very much.