Anya Alexander and Zacary (Zac) Trevor are happily married and parents of baby PJ. Theirs is an unconventional relationship to say the least but not surprising given that he’s the famous lead singer and guitarist of a rock band and she’s a former model turned fashion photographer. They’re wealthy and unconcerned about what others think of them, which isn’t a consideration when Anya proposes introducing Zac’s best friend and bandmate Cal Keller into their relationship.
This story turned out to be polar opposite of my expectations and that was a good thing. It’s not my first polyamorous story but it is also nothing like any I’ve read before. Anya, contrary to stereotype, is the dominant force in the relationship and you get that from the opening line. Zac led a fairly hedonistic lifestyle before meeting and marrying her but she grounds him in a unique way. He and Cal have been lifelong friends but neither has been honest with themselves or each other about their deeply rooted feelings.
What makes this story work is the outstanding character development. Yes, the sexual component is provocative but Anya is unlike any character I’ve come across. She’s pretty out there with her life choices but is so incredibly honest it’s refreshing. I didn’t always like her but always admired her authenticity and devotion to being that way. Her deft manner in coaxing Zac and Cal to be as equally honest in their communication kept me in this story. I’m really glad I chose the audiobook as the narrator was so talented in her performances for all three characters, I was about midway before I realized there wasn’t another narrator for Zac & Cal! I enjoyed this story that’s more about three people who are bonded far beyond their sexual attraction and created their own definition of family. And, I’ve discovered a new narrator to add to my list of favorites.
- Release Date: January 11, 2021
- Narrator: Elizabeth Hart
- Audio Length: 8 hours, 43 minutes
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
On Friday night, Anya makes a veritable vat of her low-calorie beef bourguignon so there will be plenty of leftovers, and the kitchen smells rich and warm by the time the doorbell rings.
Zac is slumped at the breakfast bar fiddling on his phone, but he jumps up at the sound, bouncing like his legs have turned to pogo sticks, as if he didn’t see Cal a few hours ago. They recorded a rough cut of the first song from the new album this week, and it seems like every other word out of his mouth is about work. It’s all Cal this and Cal that, and Can Cal come over for dinner? I have a few things I want to go over with him and this way he won’t be miserable that he has to talk on the phone like a normal person.
She agreed, mostly to make Zac happy, but also a little because she’s curious to observe Cal for a bit, now that she knows he has hidden depths.
Zac kisses Anya on the cheek, telling her, “You smell good,” before turning to go answer the door.
“He used to use his key before I came along, didn’t he?” she asks, before he can leave.
Zac winces. “Yes?”
“More of the patented Cal Keller respect program, I suppose.”
Zac drums his fingers on his belly for a second. “The stew smells delicious.”
“Oh, go away, you jerk.”
He grins at her as he leaves, and a moment later, she can hear them talking in the entryway about something that happened at the studio earlier, their voices deep and soft, and Zac laughs at whatever Cal says.
She opens a bottle of wine and makes a pitcher of ice water with lemon. She hesitates, wondering if she should offer something else to drink. She’s not sure what Cal will prefer. He’s come over for dinner dozens of times, and he’s expressed so few opinions that she’s still not sure of his preferences. She only knew about his dislike for green peppers because Zac mentioned it.
That might be the most Cal thing about Cal—that she’s been the wife of the most important person in his life for almost three years now, and no matter the overtures she makes (and there have been more than a few over that span of time) they remain merely acquaintances.
It occurs to her that maybe he simply doesn’t like her.
It’s possible. She’s strong-willed and direct. She’s gotten a lot of flak about that over the years, starting in her modeling days, and continuing into the present; there’s nothing that society hates worse than a woman who dismisses the importance of others’ approval. She curses, she drinks and she smokes pot (not lately, of course, because she was carrying and then breastfeeding PJ, although if there’s ever been a daily activity that called for chemical relaxation on a regular basis, it’s motherhood). She speaks her mind and argues, she gets angry when she wants to, she’s fucked a lot of men, and on a couple of occasions, she didn’t even know their names. She’s fine with these things, but more than a few people have turned their noses up at her over the years.
Never mind that she doesn’t do a damn thing that her husband doesn’t do, and there have been whole magazine spreads about how great he is, praising his raw, masculine strength and his creative “passions.” She rolls her eyes at the thought. She doesn’t expect people to let her get away with bad behavior, but there’s a difference between bad behavior and unladylike behavior, and while she doesn’t mind being called out for the first, anyone who has a problem with the second can choke on it.
She can see how someone like Cal, someone with a wholesome, old-fashioned way of viewing the world, would find her lacking.
But at the same time, it doesn’t really fit. He’s never been anything but perfectly gracious with her. From the first time they met, not a single one of his smiles has ever struck her as forced, and he doesn’t avoid her, doesn’t look for opportunities to see Zac in her absence. He’s told her more than once that he can see how much happier Zac is now that she’s in his life, that he’s glad that Zac has her, and he legitimately seems to mean it.
No. She knows she can be divisive, but whatever this thing with Cal is, this barrier between them, it isn’t that he disapproves of her.
About the Author
Sidney Bell lives in Colorado with her amazingly supportive husband. She received her MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2010, considered aiming for the Great American Novel, and then promptly started writing fanfiction instead. More realistic grown-ups eventually convinced her to try writing something more fiscally responsible, though, which is how we ended up here. When she’s not writing, she’s playing violent video games, yelling at the television during hockey games, or supporting her local library by turning books in late.
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(Thanks to Tantor Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)