Title: Object of Desire
Author: Dal Maclean
Publisher: Publisher One Block Empire (an imprint of Blind Eye Books)
Release Date: May 22nd 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Mystery/Suspense
Page Count: 396 pages
Reviewed by: LenaR and Renée
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.
Tom looked down at his own nervous fingers and braced himself to make the first move.
“Before we start,”Will said neutrally. “It’d be a good idea to tell me how much of this has a basis in reality.”
It took Tom a second to understand. He raised his head slowly to glare his utter disbelief. “What?”
Will’s expression didn’t change as he turned his head to look at him. “You heard.”
“You know me!” Tom spat. “You know I’d never do that!”
Will’s eyes looked huge and dark in the shadows of the car interior. His silence lasted too long. Tom didn’t know whether to scream or weep. Inevitably, he chose attack.
“I can’t believe this! You’re meant to be a professional! You’re supposed to put aside your personal feelings and make use of the information you have. You fucking know I wouldn’t do it.”
Will’s lush mouth thinned. “I have a rough assessment of who you were two years ago. I can’t assume some life-changing event hasn’t altered you, though deep traits rarely disappear.”
“Oh, do go on, Detective Inspector!” Tom seethed.
Something blanked in Will’s eyes. He tilted his head in acknowledgment. If you insist.
“The subject is charming and manipulative. Capable of targeted, deliberate cruelty to achieve a desired result. Either an emotional coward—” His tone was calm and relentless, a police officer delivering his report. Tom couldn’t breathe. There was a stone on his chest, holding his lungs down. “—or emotionally unavailable due to childhood experience, and unable to connect with feelings which aren’t centered on self. He’s in touch with his conscience, to some degree, and capable of empathy, but motivated almost exclusively by goals which don’t demand an emotional return. Fame, adulation, money. Difficult at this stage to know how much that need for material success has grown in the intervening years, and how far the subject would go to realize those aims.” Will met Tom’s wide, stunned eyes. “Definite narcissistic traits.”
There was an awful silence.
Tom knew that after all that had happened—the fear and shame and bewilderment since Catriona’s death—it shouldn’t matter. Will was twisted by anger and thwarted love. And how could Tom deny that there was enough truth in what Will had said to pull away the rocks and uncover Tom’s own self-contempt.
But…some part of him had trusted that Will would believe him. That Will would save him, maybe because he’d loved him.
He welcomed the tsunami of rage that swept over him, consuming the nervous guilt he’d felt around this man for their shared past. Because Tom was fucked if he was going to let Will take advantage of this disaster to punish him for not loving him back.
Things he’d learned: if someone hit him, hit back twice as hard.
They were going to do this after all.
He manufactured a furious, disbelieving laugh. “Seriously?” he sneered. “Is that what you’ve been telling yourself to get yourself through the nights? Or is that supposed to be a professional assessment? When you’re still wanking off to your outrage at being dumped after two whole years! How about…the subject couldn’t stand watching you pretend to be straight to your police buddies? How about the subject felt smothered? The subject was bored out of his mind. The subject didn’t want to spend his life ironing in suburbia.” Will’s eyes were blank-flint when they met his, but Tom thought he knew him well enough to see something flicker there. Pain. Good. “The subject isn’t old before his time.” Unlike you. He might as well have said it. “So how about you grow the fuck up and do your job?”
At last Tom could see real anger. It felt to him like an achievement. The beautiful catharsis of finally taking on all the mess of this old, unresting ghost of a relationship.
But his satisfaction lasted only seconds before reality returned. All that had happened and all that he was facing. And just like that, Tom’s storm of rage snuffed out, like a candle deprived of oxygen.
“If you want to pull out,” Tom said stiffly. “If you really think I harassed…”
“I didn’t say…” Will grimaced, the most extreme facial expression Tom had seen from him since they’d met again. As if Will had been containing himself behind a wall of robotic professional competence, showing himself only in flickers like an old film. “What I asked originally,” Will went on. “Was if there was any grain of underlying truth which might have been distorted by the fact that Mrs. Haining already believed the worst of you.”
His brows had pulled together in a dark frown, and he looked almost as uncomfortable as Tom felt, embarrassed perhaps by the resentment he’d allowed free, just as Tom was now.
It seemed though that they were both going to ignore that quick flurry of mutual destruction.
“For the record,”Will said, all stiff dignity, “I don’t believe you’d deliberately torment anyone for the fun of it.”
Not…just for the fun of it.
Tom nodded miserably and looked down at his hands. He didn’t have the life in him for sarcasm. He felt lost and alone in that moment, hoping that he wasn’t bleeding out his need for some kindness. Aware that Will was the last person he should ask for it.
Praise for Object of Desire
“Another twisty, densely plotted, utterly satisfying thriller/romance. Highly recommended.” Elin Gregory, author of Eleventh Hour
Praise for Dal Maclean’s debut novel, Bitter Legacy.
“This is a superbly plotted crime novel where the romance is cleverly integrated rather than an obvious add-on and both elements have equal importance and are written with equal intensity. I could hardly put the book down… I award it my highest recommendation…” Desert Island Keeper, BJ Jansen, All About Romance
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dal Maclean comes from Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time.
Her first book, “Bitter Legacy”, was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for best Gay Mystery and was chosen by the American Libraries Association for their 2018 Over The Rainbow Recommended Books List.