Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Ian Eldridge and his twin brother Aiden were once the world’s top models. Courted by famous photographers and designers alike, the brothers had the fashion world at their feet and life was spectacular. Then a drunken driver crashed into their limo taking the life of Aiden and Ian was shattered. Now three years later Ian continues to grieve, turning his back on fashion and his career. When his close friends Rodney and Mitch plan a getaway to Bora Bora, they convince Ian to come along hoping a change in setting will alter his outlook on life.
Temaru Marceau, half French half Polynesian, has returned home from France to Bora Bora and now owns and runs a dive shop catering to tourists and local dive enthusiasts. Experience has taught Temaru to stay away from tourist flings that leave him heartsick and alone after the vacation is over. Then he spots Ian alone on the beach and everything changes for both of them.
As attraction deepens to love, Ian starts to heal and look to the future and resuming his career again. But will that future include Temaru or will he be left behind once more.
When I think of S.J. Frost I think of her ancient vampires of her Instinct series, or her edgy rocker boys of Conquest, so I was unprepared for the gentle sweetness of Ian and Temaru of Model Love. I have to admit I was charmed by this story. Every element appealed to me from the Bora Bora location to the Project Runway world of models and fashion. And to give this story more depth, Frost added an element of loss and grief on both character’s part that gives Model Love a sense of realness that it might otherwise been lacking.
I loved both main characters. The grieving Ian Eldridge, unable to get past the survivor guilt and crushing loss of his best friend and twin, is especially touching. Anyone who has lost someone close to them will recognize the pain and depression that envelope this man. Ian is stuck, unable to move past this traumatic loss and the world, with the exception of two friends, has moved on without him. These two men, former business associates, are a married gay couple who were also a part of his brother’s life and career. They are instrumental in getting Ian away from his present and into a location so opposite of where he is emotionally and physically living that a change might be possible. Rodney and Mitch are wonderful creations of Frost’s, and I took them to heart as easily as I did the main characters.
And then there is Temaru with a loss of his own that will help Ian move past his grief and accept the love that is offered. Temaru is a beautifully layered character with an interesting history of his own. He is Ian’s equal in intelligence, education and beauty. And its that equality that makes our belief and connection to their romance one that is easy to make and be invested in. I don’t know if I could have believed in such an instantaneous love if Temaru had been just “an island diver” instead of the college educated man he is. For this relationship to work and for the reader to believe it had a future, both Temaru and Ian needed to have the requisite character and inner compatibility that would resonate with each other and Frost gave them that essence. And then made us believe in it.
For me this was a story that got better after I finished it. The more I thought about it, the more I connected to the men and their love for each other. I could easily see a return to these characters and their universe should Frost decide to do so. I would love to see more of Temaru and Ian, Mitch and Rodney and even a designer Seggio Fabbri who deserves his own happy ending. Pick up Model Love and be prepared to fall in love yourself with Bora Bora and the men who fall in love on its beaches.
Cover design by Fiona Jayde Cover photography by S Photos. The choice of models was not in keeping with, well the choice of models. That one man looks more like a weightlifter than the svelte male models of today’s runways. A definite miss of a cover.