Designs of Desire - Tempeste O'Riley This review can be found at The Blog of Sid Love.

3.5 stars

This is the story about James who lives with EDS and is permanently disabled by an ex-lover. Mentally and physically damaged, James has no self-confidence and doesn’t believe someone such as Seth, a CEO of his own company, would want someone like him. When Seth pursues him, he can’t help but think Seth will eventually become violent or dump him soon after their relationship starts. However, Seth is serious about James and adores him for his talent, his beauty and his personality. When things start to work out between them, multiple situations occur that threaten their happy life including becoming a full time parent, dealing with a violent stalker and breaking down the walls James still has built up. When everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, will James and Seth still make it as a couple or will James’ fears come true and Seth will leave him for good?

This is a difficult story for me to rate and review. On one hand, I enjoyed it to some extent; it was one of those books that I didn’t want to stop reading but on the other hand, it has a lot of issues. I enjoyed the characters and I really adored the fact that James was so broken emotionally. Because of his past, he’s afraid of anyone that is bigger than him or interested in him. When Seth enters the picture, he doesn’t think anything good could come out of forming a relationship and truly believes that Seth will eventually get violent with him. It’s sad, to be honest, but I liked that James was so meek but had moments when he would stand his ground. As an artist, he’s praised for his art work and I really enjoyed the times that he would get lost in painting. I also liked that his disability and disorder was mentioned at times to reinforce the fact that he had physical problems. Although, it took a little while to learn that James has EDS, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, so when that came to light, I couldn’t help but have a ‘Whaaaa?’ moment.

Seth, though, I felt was very contradictory. I would like him at times but then I felt like, at others, he was very condescending when he handled James. They have a sort of dom/sub relationship going on without the BDSM sex (just kinky sex for you smut lovers). By that, I mean Seth would control portions of James’ life such as ordering food for him, demanding he do this, telling him what to do and even silencing him at times. That part of the story, I wasn’t fond of because Seth would make this grand speech of not being like James’ past boyfriends and then he’d do actions such as that, which totally negate what he just said. It was frustrating to say the least BUT James seemed to revel in Seth taking control so I can’t exactly fault Seth for doing that. I just didn’t like the tone he took with James at times when James was already feeling so low, even if it did smooth James’ worries, it felt too much like Seth was scolding James or bullying him.

The best thing about this book were the secondary characters. I simply adored Chase and his exuberant ways. I loved that he was so easily excitable and enjoyed the banter that would come up between Chase and Seth. I also really liked Rhys and truly hope that there is a story about Chase and Rhys to come someday. There were other characters such as Mel, Brittany, and Danni that never failed to make me smile and I very much enjoyed Seth’s parents because they weren’t what I was expecting from a highly rich couple.

I think the biggest downfall about this story is the fact that the author incorporated so many conflicts into the book but didn’t properly resolve the issues to their full potential. It seemed that whenever something bad would arise, there would be a quick resolution within a chapter then a new problem would come up and a resolution would occur soon after. This happened throughout the novel so, by the end, there was probably seven, eight, maybe even nine or more situations that not just James but Seth had to go through as well. It was overwhelming because there would be a good lead up to what was happening and then everything would be fixed quickly or you would be told that they talked and everything was back to rights. To be honest, I was disappointed at that and that’s why it is hard for me to decipher my feelings because I’d like the way the story was going and the new situation that James was thrust into but then things would be fixed by what seemed like just an easy way to wrap up the issue so you can move on to the next problem. If the author had focused on one or two conflicts that spanned the whole book, without having the other inane issues, I would have enjoyed this one much more but because there were so many, it seriously hindered my enjoyment.

All in all, I liked the story but at the same time, there were a lot of issues with it. Not just with the many conflicts and weak resolutions but also with stunted dialogue and overall there was just too much sex for my tastes. Readers should be aware that this novel does contain some kinky sex. For me, the writing was engaging and made me want to continue even when I was saddened by the lack of execution and I enjoyed the characters especially the secondary ones. I’d recommend this to readers who are looking for a sweet, easy read about a damaged man who finally gets a love he desires.

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