03 June 2014

Healing the Wounds by M.Q. Barber

 There are no safe words. There is only surrender.

When Alice leapt into sexual games with her neighbors Henry and Jay, she didn’t plan to fall in love. She sure didn’t expect she’d be the switch between Henry’s commanding mastery and Jay’s submissive playfulness. But now she’s moving in with them, and she’d better figure it all out – fast.

Trouble is, she’s never been a live-in girlfriend. The day after a traumatic first night at a BDSM club might not be the best time to start.

Struggling to find her place within the lifestyle, Alice seeks equality in a relationship built on surrender. Learning to lean on Henry challenges the foundation of her self-worth. He’ll have to lean on her in return for their triad to find stability. But can her stoic dominant lover accept her as a confidante as well as a submissive? And will their love be enough to silence Jay’s emotional ghosts?


The Neighborly Affection series follows the developing triad relationship of Henry, Alice, and Jay.

I was very lucky to come across this series a few months ago.  The Neighborly Affection Series starts with Playing the Game.  Book two is Crossing the Lines and now we enter book three, Healing the Wounds.  You can read each book independently but it would be confusing for a while.  The biggest regret you would have is that you won’t see how these three came together and what each of them have had to overcome to get to this point in their lives. 
Henry is such a classy and sophisticated man.  He is sexy, compassionate and caring but the ultimate Dom in this relationship.  He found Jay and it was what I could compare to finding an abused and abandon puppy and bringing him home to keep as your own.  Henry’s protective nature towards Jay was clear in all three books, but it wasn’t until this one that we see why he felt the way he did or the extent of pain Jay was dealing with.  Henry brought Alice into the relationship to give Jay what he needed but as the time went on, he began to realize Alice was also dealing with a pain that he felt he could help ease.  As they progressed a natural love between the three blossomed and Henry was rewarded with the gifts of love and trust from those two that became the balm for his wounded soul.
Alice started out as a play thing for once a week.  Being a neighbor who had nothing but her job, this worked out well in the beginning, till she found her heart craving more.  In the past she knew she could never be a total submissive, it wasn’t in her make up but she knew she couldn’t move on with her life if Jay and Henry weren’t in it.  Now that she has committed to those two she is trying to find the balance of being Henry’s submissive and Jay’s Dom.  Henry is teaching her to dominate Jay with loving approval for his actions because Jay will do anything for Henry and Alice to make them happy.  Along with this new role, she is going to have to learn to believe and accept that she does have a place with them.  They have been together for so long, she is the outsider, much as she has been her whole life.  Healing the Wounds is going to be the time she is going to have to realize, they didn’t just make a place for her, and they need her as much as she needs them.
Jay, who doesn’t love him?  He is really an excitable little boy in a grown man’s body.  He gives the most adorable puppy eyes and tries to see the good in everyone.  His main goal in life is to please people and make them happy.  We have heard of his past with Cal in the prior books, but it is this one that takes us to the point that he is going to need to deal with those issues and trauma if he will ever be able to move on in his life.  I will admit that when he comes face to face with the memories in this book it broke my heart but it also made me see Jay in a whole new light.  I understand now what a remarkable man he really is because he had every right to be full of hate and anger, but instead he spends his life trying to better the lives of Henry and Alice. 
My one huge complaint about this series is that now that we see each character for who they are, their weaknesses and strengths, it appears the series is over and I am NOT ready for the end of Henry, Alice and Jay.  I want more; I want to see where they go now that they have destroyed the past demons and found their own special place in this relationship.  I really recommend this series even if the start is slow with the first book, each page gains more strength, emotion and importance.  I give this book a five for not only the story, character development and writing style but because when I was done, I felt like I had just said goodbye to three best friends.  

In Healing the Wounds we return to the polyamorous relationship between Henry, Jay and Alice. Picking up where Crossing the Lines ended, we find the trio making plans for Alice to move in and become a permanent member of the household, and formally solidifying her place in the relationship. Two pages into the book and I immediately remembered why I love this trio so much – Henry is the ever-patient voice of reason offering love, comfort and guidance to the eager-to-please Jay and over-analyzing Alice – in short, they are perfect for one another, flaws and baggage included.

As Henry seeks to correct the damage done from the ill-fated trip to the club, the relationship between the three strengthens and their love for one another deepens. As expected, it is not a simple fix – there is no quick fix for the mental wounds Alice received that night, nor the wounds that were reopened for Jay – and Henry worked to heal the wounds throughout the enire book. I found their reactions and subsequent behaviors so realistic and honest, that I was again immersed in their world. Henry is still the beautiful dominant, subtle in his domination and taking pleasure in meeting Jay and Alice’s needs; he is at complete odds with my preferred alpha Dom, but I love him all the same – perhaps even more so. The way in which the author enables Henry to meet the emotional needs of Jay and Alice – both personally and using one to meet the other’s needs – is absolutely brilliant. Add to that, the unbelievably hot sex and non-sex sex (when you read it, you’ll get the reference), it is not surprising to me that I devoured the book and am sad that it is over already.

Ms. Barber does an excellent job of making these three seem so real and expressive that I find myself so invested in their characters. Because their story is not rushed, I foresee (hopefully) many more novels in the Neighborly Affection series and I am already anxious for the next one. Until then, I will have to bide my time by checking out the recently released short story from the series. I don’t typically buy short stories, but when they are written by a wonderful author and are part of a series that I am becoming obsessed with, I do and will make an exception. Thank you Ms. Barber for writing such beautiful characters and please write quickly as I need to know what comes next. 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JF7ZF9A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JF7ZF9A&linkCode=as2&tag=crysmanrev-20&linkId=EZZ5LIOR6HLSGC3K    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/healing-the-wounds-mq-barber/1119105192?ean=9781616505332&itm=1&usri=m.q.+barber    https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-healingthewounds-1466888-149.html?referrer=52378e08e5757


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