Full Series Review
Book #1 – Designs of Desire
Book #1.75 – Bound by Desire
Book #2 – Desires’ Guardian
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.
As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.
James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?
Despite his past abuse, James has come to terms with his relationship with his Dom and lover Seth. Seth treats James with all the trust and love his sub desires. There is only one thing left to do to make it all complete: Seth needs to put a collar on James.
Most people see Chase Manning as the party-boy twink he seems on the surface. Only James, Chase’s BFF, knows the depth of his loyalty and the extent of the wounds Chase carries inside. When Chase meets Rhys Sayer things don’t go well, but he can’t shake his attraction to the huge, sexy man.
Rhys is a man of contradictions and fear—a strange combination for a PI and bodyguard. He’s in a bad place emotionally when he sets eyes on Chase for the first time. When Chase puts the moves on him, Rhys insults him, thwarting any possibility of a relationship. Rhys doesn’t see himself as a complicated man, but he dreads the very kind of connection he desires.
Just as they’re trying to overcome their uncertainties, Chase is put in harm’s way. Luckily Rhys and their friends have all the right talents to help Rhys save the man of his dreams.
In Designs of Desire, James is an artist whose day job is with a marketing company. At least, I think it’s a marketing company. That wasn’t really explained well. James doesn’t get along with his immediate supervisor, who is a bigot and likes to make James miserable, which is why James is so suspicious when he’s given Seth Burns as a client. Also, James was born with a serious genetic disorder and serial bad taste in men. Seth is CEO of his company and his new project requires branding. He’s building a new chain of high-end bed and breakfast hotels to cater to the GLBT community.
When Seth and James meet, the two men are attracted to each other. Working together does provide them time to get to know each other, but it’s still insta love. I liked the characters so much it didn’t bother me. From the beginning of the getting to know you stage, Seth and James are burning up the sheets. A lot. Seriously, there was a lot of sex. For the most part it was hot. Seth does care and want James to be happy. There is somewhat of a cinderfella feel, except James’ art could have been supporting him in a much better fashion than his job. James is strong inside, but fragile at the same time. Very low self-esteem, thanks to horrific previous boyfriends. At least James finally gets it right with Seth. The lite BDSM doesn’t appeal to me, though it is very lite – primarily D/s with a few elements of bondage and other play.
The supporting cast really helps this story. Chase is a bit stereo typed, but still loveable. I like Mel and Britt. Seth’s parents are also good people, although they have a very small part in the story. Danni, Seth’s secret daughter, is precious, but maybe a little off on her ability to articulate. I’m not sure, since I can’t remember what my kids were like at 6. The horrible ex-boyfriends and their attempts to harm James were believable. Discovering who threatened James and tried to burn his stone house down was a bit of a surprise. Too much of the story is off page then summarized. For example, making sure James’ ex number 2 went to jail for assault and violating a protection order. I would have preferred seeing more everyday with the guys, but that won’t bother everyone. Also, there is no background about Seth. A few lines of going to college at 15 and his parents are from Ireland. He could have been fleshed out more.
Bound by Desire is a very short story about Seth giving James a collar. Not much more than the set-up and a sex scene.
Desire’s Guardian is my favorite of the three books. This is Chase’s story. Chase is very prominent in the first book since he is James’ best friend. In his own book, Chase breaks out of the stereo type, which is really his armor and not who he is. Chase has started his own consulting firm since the end of book one. We met Rhys in book one when Seth hired Rhys to be James’ bodyguard. He had a few scenes in that book, but we do get to know him along with Chase. Rhys is co-owner of an investigation company. I got the impression that he doesn’t normally do bodyguard work, although that isn’t really addressed. When Rhys’ regular computer guru moves across the country with her husband, he needs help and James coerces Chase into taking the job.
Chase and Rhys had met once before Rhys entered the story in book one. Unfortunately, that meeting didn’t go well and while the two men are wildly attracted to each other, they act more like adversaries. Thankfully, this plot thread is addressed and closed within this story. It takes quite a while, especially when compared to book one, for the men to finally accept their attraction and become intimate. Except that doesn’t go as well for Chase as it does for Rhys. This particular element is very important to Chase, but he never tells Rhys why he walked away after their first time together. I don’t know if that was deliberate or something that was left on the cutting room floor. Either way, they move past it and do become a couple.
There are several supporting characters in addition to the people from the first book. Both Rhys and Chase’s parents love their children. Chase’s mom more than just accepts her son is gay. She is supportive, too. Rhys’ parents accept he’s gay. I absolutely loved that there is more story to this book. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough of the guys doing stuff together. There are massive time skips then Chase telling the highlights in about one short paragraph. Chase is the fragile psyche this time, but he is so strong. Good job working that combo into the irrepressible Chase. There are murders and more drama in this story, too. It gets a little intense and Rhys has to rescue Chase. We do get more background on Rhys than there was of Seth in book one, but still not nearly enough.
This is a decent series that can be read quickly. It’s pretty light even with the drama. I do sense a bit of a theme: big strong boyfriend has to protect the fragile boyfriend.
Reviewed by Jilrene