A Lila Review: Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

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Disclaimer: If promiscuity, open relationships, or perceived cheating are deal breakers for you, this isn’t your book. 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire.

Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms.

But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him.

And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.

Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price.

If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.

Object of Desire should not be confused with a romance novel. It is a well-written mix of police procedural and a thriller with romantic undertones. I used the same disclaimer than above when reviewing Bitter Legacy and it applies here quite well. By the way, I didn’t make the connection between the two books until I was done reading. And to be clear, there’s no need to read them one after the other. They just complemented each other.

In this story, we don’t get to see Will and Tom falling in love and having a fairytale HEA. We get to accompany them in their search to uncover the reasons behind the collapse of Tom’s life and are witnesses to all the machinations and actions that resulted in a new path to their worlds. There’s a lot of exposure at the beginning of the story and it doesn’t stop until the end. I would have been happy with a bittersweet ending too.

Dal Maclean knitted a wonderful set of characters with deep backgrounds and interrelations. We are given enough information to make our own conclusions and to switch those conclusions with every new piece of information presented. There’s not one single suspect or lead to followed. It is a complex web of possibilities that keeps the reader guessing until the last minute. Only to have them question if they arrived at the right conclusion.

The plot leads change often enough to make the story engaging. The reader is always trying to figure out if they have the right players and set of events right, or if they have been misled. Trying to figure out the end gets harder with each page, and there’s no way to know until the last part of the story. Anything before that would be wrong, and even then, it’s hard to know if you are correct.

All the descriptions, from clothing, decorations, smells, locations, food, etc. added to the flavor of the story. Cars, traffic, day & time, weather, and many other items make Object of Desire more than a tale and more of an experience. I’m glad to see the author didn’t Americanize this book either. There’s no need to provided comparisons about the two country systems or explain terms or phrases. It makes the whole package credible and authentic. I would love to hear the audiobook to be further submerged in this world.

The characters were marvelous, sophisticated, and intricate.  I do have a sweet spot for Nick and I need to accept is due to the great work the author did to bring him to life. He’s definitely my favorite. At the same time, it was hard for me to warm up to Tom. Which is also due to a great characterization by the author. Unfortunately, it’s the reason why this is not a perfect five stars’ book for me; even if the overall book is stellar. Every other character in between has a purpose, a story, and is more than a generic name on a page. I’m still impartial about Will.

If you are not used to complex books with intense psychological turns, this book can be overwhelming. But, at the same time, it’s rewarding to get to the end to understand how everything comes together. It would definitely make a great TV movie or show. It has the potential to be more than a once read.

The cover by KaNaXa matches the previous book by this author and it has the same issue. At first glance, it’s hard to understand the content of the cover. Especially if looking at a thumbprint. When taking the time, all the elements are present in the story.

Sale Links: Blind Eye | Amazon | Nook 

ebook, 396 pages
Published: May 22, 2018, by Blind Eye Books
ISBN: 1935560549 (ISBN13: 9781935560548)
Edition Language: English

In Our Author Spotlight: Jackie Keswick Writing, Characters and her new release ‘Leap of Faith’ (Guest Blog and author interview)

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Leap of Faith (FireWorks Security #1) by Jackie Keswick
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by Garrett Leigh

Available for Purchase at

           

Also available at Apple |Books2Read | Indigo

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jackie Keswick here today talking about writing, characters and her latest release Leap of Faith (FireWorks Security #1).  Welcome, Jackie!

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Thank you very much for hosting me on the blog today. And thanks also for some very intriguing questions… It’s so easy to run out of words or struggle for topics when preparing a blog tour, so I appreciate the prompts. A lot. 

How much of yourself goes into a character?

There’s always a bit of me in there somewhere. Anything from little mannerisms to things I need to get out of my system. Most often, I share things I love with my characters. Away from fiction I blog about England, English history and food, so every so often a character inherits a part of that. Gareth Flynn in the Power of Zero stories is an awesome cook, as is rock god Tempest, who cooks when he’s too tired and wired to sleep. Strangely enough, none of the characters in Leap of Faith are any great shakes in the kitchen – Kieran can make toast and pour cereal and Joel doesn’t mind much what he eats as long as there’s sugar involved – but I’m thinking of making up for that in the sequel, where I don’t have just one but two characters who bond over stuff that’s served on plates.

Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I like both, researching and making stuff up. It depends very much on the plot bunny or on what I’ve been reading. For Leap of Faith, which for some reason ended up in Connecticut where I’ve never been, I was scouring maps, Google Earth, and local history. Lissand, the city where FireWorks Security has its HQ, is entirely fictional. It’s a construct of various bits of geography along the Connecticut coast, re-jigged to fit the story I wanted to tell.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I have to say yes to this, even though it’s not obvious when you look at the stories I have published so far. For me, reading and writing was always an escape. When I was younger I didn’t like reading anything contemporary. I had my nose buried in either historical novels or sci-fi and fantasy. And ever since I could hold a pen that’s what I’ve written. My first “novel” was a story set in England at the time of the Norman Conquest and I’ve written too many space operas to count. I still love to write medieval-ish fantasy. In fact, I have one on my desk right now which is close to being done.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Both. Jack’s story has a lot of sharp hooks. I knew the story needed telling, but I had to grow up and grow out of a lot of stuff before I could do that successfully. Even then, I still had nightmares writing Job Hunt. And Leap of Faith lay around half done for three years because I had too much fun with making Kieran and Joel jump through hoops until I’d written myself into a corner and had no idea how to unravel the mess I’d made. It took a question from my husband for me to realise that it wasn’t Kieran, but Marius who had the key to the story. And then, predictably, the whole thing went off the rails…

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HFN. HEA means the story is done and if I’ve loved what I’ve read, it’s now time for the book hangover. In real life, I think that falling in love and deciding it’s real is the easy part. Living together and making it work is harder, which is probably why I absolutely adore series where I follow the same characters for book after book until they’re secure with each other.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Romance as a genre has never really been my thing. Not as a teen and not later. I didn’t discover Georgette Heyer’s books until I was in my forties… but then I acquired all of them in very short order because I love the history and her characterisation just left me in stitches. I do like a good, gripping love story with twists and bumps, multiple plots, and a lot of character development. But it doesn’t have to be a romance in the strict sense and it doesn’t have to end happily.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Leaning a bit on the previous question, one of my favourite love stories of all time is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. I can read that one backwards, forwards and sideways and quote it, too. That book taught me not to take things at face value and that a love story doesn’t need a happy ending to be consuming. My other favourite growing up was German author Johannes Tralow. My two go-to books were Irene of Trapezunt and The Eunuch. Both with very strong female leads and wonderful, unconventional love stories.

I like both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett for their use of language, and Desmond Bagley for the way he created action plots based on science. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with Patricia Correll’s Late Summer, Early Spring. It’s very sensual without being obvious, but it still tugs on your heartstrings. 

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

With great difficulty. I find it tricky to describe the vibe of a book so the designer can do their magic. I write suspense and mystery, so a really romantic cover doesn’t usually work for me. For Leap of Faith, the cover designer was Garrett Leigh, and she’s done an outstanding job. It’s the first time that I have men on my cover 🙂 and she actually found Kieran for me… I love how that turned out.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I tend to fall in love with the story I write, and because I like to experiment with different styles and genres I enjoy different things in each story. Writing Leap of Faith was outsize fun. I was trying for almost non-stop action and I got so buried in the story at times that I was literally out of breath. At the moment, Mouse Hunt (another Jack & Gareth) is one that chokes me up when I read it over.

What’s next for you as an author?

I want to write Jack’s story to the end, so there’s closure for me as well as a proper HEA for Jack and Gareth. That will take a while. Writing Jack is getting easier, but it still takes a lot out of me emotionally, so one thing I’ve learned is that I need a break every so often, to regroup and write something else. Leap of Faith was the result of one of those breaks, and my next challenge will be the sequel, Burned Once, which is about halfway there. I also have a paranormal series on my WiP stack that won’t leave me alone. I’ve never written anything paranormal before, so I’m rather excited about that one. And I’m about to try my hand at self-publishing later this year….

Blurb

Close friends and partners at FireWorks Security, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have each other’s backs, make a formidable team, and carefully ignore their volatile chemistry. 

When Kieran struggles with the aftermath of an assignment gone wrong, Joel is there to help. When Joel is caught in an explosion, Kieran jumps into a burning marina to rescue the man who means so much to him. But they never discuss what’s closest to their hearts, not prepared to risk their friendship for the mere possibility of something more. 

Faced with bombs, assassins, and old ghosts, Joel and Kieran must find out why they’re targets, who is coming after them, and—most of all—how each would feel if he lost the other. Should they continue as best friends, or is it time to take a leap of faith?

Details

  • Genre: Contemporary M/M Action/Thriller
  • Length: 41,600
  • Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
  • Release Date: 5th April 2017

About the Author

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:

Website: http://www.jackiekeswick.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctY9RD

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieKeswick

FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackieKeswick

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackiekeswick/

Review: Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Enigma coverSingle, fifty and gay Rhys “Russ”  Morgan is also a psychic empath, something that both helps him in his job as a Private Investigator and hurts when the contact is with someone whose thoughts and actions are less than honorable.  And his latest job is making those hidden gifts twitch and ache.

Russ has been hired to find out the identity of a blackmailer.  The blackmailer’s target is the high-profile televangelist whose son was supposedly “cured” of his homosexuality fifteen years ago in front of the televangelist’s congregation.  Now the blackmailer, using the songs from an Enigma’s album, The Cross of Changes, is sending notes and demands to the televangelist and the law office representing him thinks that “vengeful homosexuals” are behind the scheme.    Their solution?  Hire a homosexual to catch a homosexual.

Russ takes the case but not exactly for the reasons his clients think.  Justice wields a two sided sword and those cut by its blade are not always the ones you would expect.

The book Enigma was a lovely discovery for me.  I found a new author, new publisher and hopefully a new series to follow.  Lloyd A. Meeker is a find, and according to his acknowledgements, he is new to the mystery genre as well.  In my opinion, he did a great job.

I really enjoyed the character of Russ Morgan.  Older, currently sober and a psychic empath, he clearly has a huge story to tell.  I found him fascinating and the “voice” given to him by the author is intriguing. Its perfect in tone and vocabulary, as Russ’ age and experience just rolls off his tongue.  This holds true for Russ’ inner monologue, the reader’s companion throughout the story. In fact, I liked Russ Morgan so much that the tantalizing bits of information that we are offered about his past and his gift left me a little frustrated and wanting more, a good thing when laying out a series.

The other characters involved in the mystery are nicely fleshed out, very realistic human beings.  I believed in them and others will too. Colin, James, even the parsimonious Andrew Kommen capture and keep your interest as Russ winds his way through a labyrinth of lies fabricated by the reverend to protect  himself and his interests.

As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I will admit that I guessed the identity of the blackmailer early on.  However, that did not take away from my enjoyment of the story and the final reveal.  And I loved, loved, the use of songs from that Enigma album.  That was such a great element and it should send anyone not familiar with that band and their songs scrambling to iTunes for a listen to the compelling melodies and lyrics.

I recommend Enigma and Lloyd A. Meeker and can’t wait to see where he takes this series and detective next.

Cover art by Adrian Nichols, Art Director of  Wilde City Press.   Beautiful cover.

Book Details:

ebook. 18.000 words
Published August 28th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031409