Monday, July 18, 2016

Temptations of Desire by Tempeste O'Riley

Temptations of Desire was an almost perfect romance, complete with two of the sweetest, sexiest men ever to fall in love between the pages of a book. I will get to that almost in a minute, but first let me gush about what I loved.

Lexie and Dal are the perfect couple. They are both sweet, funny, and romantic, coming across more as two lovestruck teens than grown men with careers. Seriously, your heart would have to be pretty cold (and your phobia pretty deep) not to love these two. Dal is a big, burly, motorcycle riding cop, but that is where the stereotype ends. He is a tender and compassionate man who acts like the suitor in a fairy tale romance. As for Alex, he is a very feminine young man, openly gender-fluid, who is haunted (but not defined) by his painful past.

As for their romance, it is so sweet, so passionate, it just makes your heart soar. I kept waiting for Tempeste O'Riley to throw a wrench into the works - and she does, but nothing she does can keep them apart. There are at least a half dozen points in the story where a less confident author would allow the conflict to boil over, artificially sundering the lovers, just to come up with a big, sexy reunion later on. Not here.

The cast of supporting characters are fantastic as well, especially Chase and Rhys (you can pick up Desires' Guardian for their backstory). An equally believable, equally lovable gay couple, they really serve to help drive the story along. Kai, Lexie's best friend and brother-by-choice, is one character I would love to know more about, and Mr. Harrison, his wealthy employer, is the kind of man we all could use in our lives.

As for that almost, there is a murder mystery slipped into the story that just did not work for me. Maybe you have to have read the previous book to appreciate it, but it feels very hesitant, and does not mess with the rest of the story. There are points I actually thought it forgotten, only for it to reappear, and the resolution is probably my biggest issue with the tale. No spoilers, but the big, final confrontation happens entirely outside the story, with us only getting a recap after-the-fact.

That almost concern aside, Lexie and Dal are the sweetest couple ever, and Temptations of Desire is just a gorgeous romance that does something wonderful with gender, without making a big deal about it. Of course, if (like me) you are desperate to explore that angle a little deeper, the short story Truth in Lace provides us with crossdressing backstory.

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