REVIEW: Object of Desire by Dal MacLean
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.
Disclosure: while I preordered the book I could not resist the temptation of the ARC and read it prior to the publication date.
Dear Dal Maclean,
I loved your first book “Bitter Legacy” and I was looking forward to reading your next one. Overall I really enjoyed it, although I had a small issue with characterization, which I will discuss at the end of the review.
I thought this book was exceptionally well-written. It is set in the universe of “Bitter Legacy,” and Jamie and Ben (main characters from “Bitter Legacy”) make a cameo appearance.
The blurb gives you the main idea without giving up anything; however, in order to write a review, I have to at least describe a little more detail about the set up.
The book opens with Nick, owner of the modeling agency where Tom works, calling Tom and asking him to come to the house where the owner’s wife committed suicide.
The writer drops the reader right in the middle of the very tense, very horrible things happening, and I loved that we were getting information as the story unfolded instead of all the pertinent info being dumped on us at the very beginning. Very soon, the reader learns that Tom and Nick were sleeping together and that recently Nick left his wife to be with Tom. Tom is wracked with guilt because he wonders whether it is possible that Catriona (Nick’s wife) killed herself because she was so in love with Nick, and Tom could have indirectly driven her to suicide.
Things quickly go from bad to worse for Tom because on social media some of Catriona’s friends accuse Tom of ugly harassment of Catriona, which most definitely could have been a contributing factor to her suicide. Tom is in shock because he knows he did not harass Catriona, but the accusations are not going away.
One of the policemen at the crime scene is familiar to Tom and it is briefly hinted that that policeman worked with Tom’s ex, DI Will Foster. Once again, we are getting information about Tom and Will as the story unfolds and initially the reader only sees Tom’s brief mentioning of Will. I could not even figure out what Tom was feeling when he remembered Will; however, going back I am almost certain that it was guilt and regret about how they parted ways two years prior. More specifically, Tom broke up with Will once they were starting to get too serious.
However, Tom learns that Will is now a private investigator and it just so happens that because police are looking at him initially for possible harassment of Catriona, which led to her alleged suicide, he is trying to engage a solicitor and that solicitor is recommending a very specific private investigator, former DI Will Foster.
I want to stop for a second and stress here that the book is first and foremost a thriller/mystery. Of course it has romantic elements, but the book as a whole read to me as a main-stream thriller with a very sophisticated plot.
The book is set in the “Bitter Legacy” universe and as I said in the beginning, the couple from that book even makes a nice cameo appearance, which actually makes sense for the narrative. I think for that very reason it is fair to make some comparisons between the two books. Same as in “Bitter Legacy” the old mystery that touches the lives of the main characters also comes into play in this story.
It is a very different mystery than the one in the “Bitter Legacy” and it plays out very differently; in fact, I think I would put this book more in the thriller/suspense category, although of course mystery is also present. I was just so very *impressed* by how the author hid the villain in the plain sight – literally. I was *almost* sure about the villain from the very beginning, because we did see the ugly things the person did – right there, right in front of us (or told by somebody else) and the author still made me doubt myself.
I still cannot figure out how she achieved it; it was as if as soon as I was ready to feel 100% sure, something in the story line came up and whispered in my ear that it could not be right, that something else must be at fault. That somebody else must be at fault. That there was a positive explanation for all those things that made me think of the character as a villain. I just thought it was so well done – the writing magic in the best sense of the word.
There was also some resemblance in the characterization of Tom and Ben Morgan. And I want to talk about it because I was annoyed a bit. No, not by some similarities between the characters – surely the author did it deliberately and then even poked a little fun at it by saying at the very end that the guys became friends and they had a lot in common. It is a very minor spoiler, I promise you readers.
No, what annoyed me was not that a specific type of characterization was present in both men – overall they were quite different characters – but the way the author chose to portray that character trait did annoy me. I am mostly talking about Tom here because this is his book after all; and since I already met a character (Ben) with the same character trait in the previous book, it makes me worry and wonder whether it will make an appearance again in the future books.
So basically Tom as we meet him in the beginning of the book, and almost until the end, does not want to settle down and resists getting serious with anybody. That was the reason he broke up with Will, whom Tom loved, and he treats his other lovers/hook ups in a similar way: never getting too close even if a person is starting to fall for him. So far, so good, but apparently Tom once again does not want to settle down because he had a childhood trauma. I mean, it was not really a trauma, certainly nothing nearly as severe as Ben’s was, but Tom’s parents’ behavior (there is no abuse or anything like that) did influence him in a way that he did not want to become monogamous with anybody.
Tom is 27 years old, mind you. His behavior was fully explained in the story, therefore, I am not knocking down the grade and I do realize that our parents’ behavior influences our behavior, if not always, then often – either positively or negatively.
However, surely a young gay man (or any person!) is allowed to not want to settle down without being traumatized as the only reason given for wanting to have a lot of sex and for not getting serious while young, or ever?
As I said, in this story it all worked and I know that this is a Romance or a book with a romantic storyline. I am HAPPY with monogamous couple at the end, but reasons for that matter to me.