A fan of the series, especially the first book, I really enjoyed Signs of Desire. Each story in this series involves couples who really have to go the extra mile to be together--but it's always worth reading to follow their journey. The main characters for this book have one very important difference; Simon can hear but Adrian is deaf.
Both men have had a spotty record dating. Simon is a romance author who can't seem to find it himself. His trouble finding a man who wants him for him has led to a writing block, and he lets that push him into accepting an invite from friends to get away from the blinking cursor on a blank page. Adrian, a successful man who has put a phenomenal effort into fitting into "normal" society, has only found men who end up frustrated putting up with his inability to hear.
But Simon's different, or at least Adrian hopes he is. But can Adrian overcome the distrust that pushes him into punishing Simon for some of his past boyfriend's mistakes? Can Simon believe Adrian can care about him--just him--for no other reason? What happens when they both face hatred and discrimination for things they can't change; will it pull them closer or tear them apart?
As always, Tempeste has written a story that tugged at my heartstrings. I really cared about Adrian and Simon, and I was rooting for them to make it as a couple. The story has angst, but it's believable and realistic for a contemporary story; just enough to create conflict without being overdone. My biggest complaint is the completely random grammar call to capitalize Hearing and Deaf to describe people in the story. It felt wrong because those words are not proper nouns, yet they're being used that way to segregate characters based on a physical ability or lack thereof. A person is hearing or deaf--but that isn't who they are--so giving the words that level of import felt like it was deliberate to create a schism between the groups which didn't work for me as a reader. While that might work with another plot, Adrian doesn't want his partner to view him as incapable or capable based on whether or not he can hear, so to have him think that way in the writing was hypocritical.
AUTHOR: Tempeste O’Riley
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 30, 2015
BLURB: Desires Entwined: Book Four Simon Tyler knows his job as a gay romance author makes his lack of faith in love more than a little ironic, but he’s tired of being used for his wallet. When a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme orchestrated by his best friends, Simon’s not thrilled, but since he’s not the target and he’s sworn off happily-ever-after anyway, he goes along with it… until he meets Adrian, the object of their efforts, and finds perhaps he hasn’t given up on love after all.
Professor Adrian Keys has tried to date Hearing men before, but being Deaf himself, he’s never had any success at making a connection. After his friends con him into going out and Adrian realizes it’s all an elaborate plan to set him up, he braces for yet another failure, only to discover there is a spark—except it’s not with the man his friends had in mind, but with Simon Tyler instead.
Not all their friends have found a way past their romantic failures, but Simon and Adrian might be on the path to happily-ever-after.
A tap to his shoulder pulled Adrian out of his musings. He turned and realized the server was back with their dinners and blushed at how entranced he’d been. He didn’t usually stare, hating when others did that to him. “Sorry.”
“No sorrys.” Chase hugged Adrian, then dug into his bowl of chicken and dumplings.
Simon waved to get Adrian’s attention and smiled when he looked up from his country-fried steak and mashed potatoes with white gravy. “Chase said you were his teacher before and are now a friend.” Adrian nodded. “How’d he convince you to go out with his skinny butt?”
Heat infused Adrian’s face as he laughed. “Chase was very sweet and asked nicely.”
“I love your laugh, by the way. It’s deep like your voice, kind of carefree.” Simon looked slightly sad. Adrian knew he’d had a hard time lately. Chase said he’d been cheated on a year ago and had refused to date since. Adrian knew the feeling, though he pushed the thought away, hoping not to dwell on why he was alone.
He ducked his head slightly. “Thanks? I don’t know how anyone sounds, even myself, so it’s always weird to get comments like that.”
“I said the same when we went out,” Chase commented. “But don’t let him fool you. He’s an excellent teacher and speaks in all his classes. He knows his voice is good.”
“No, I know it’s clear enough for you to understand. That’s something I work hard to make true, but I have never heard my voice, so I have no idea how I sound. And well…. Chase was the first person to ever say something like that.”
He worked regularly with various computer programs to improve and maintain his speech, knowing if he didn’t it could cost him his position at the college. He had always struggled to make sure he spoke well for Hearing people, considering his family’s opinion of his Deafness. His dad knew sign language, but his mom refused to learn, insisting he learn to be “normal.” Adrian had always thought that was extremely unfair, especially as a child. Considering his hatred of being dependent on others for his communication, he was thankful he could read lips and speak as well as he did.
“Then you know the wrong people, ’cause he’s right.” Simon nodded to emphasize his point, confusing Adrian more. Why would he be so determined with his compliments?
Shrugging off his curiosity, Adrian tried to push past the topic. “What do you do?”
Simon’s eyes tightened at the edges slightly, his shoulders drooping a little more. “I’m a writer.”
“He’s a romance author, and a damn good one,” Jamie, or James as he knew the guy’s actual name was, said. Chase talked about his best friend often, though this was the first they’d met. “Don’t let him talk down about what he does.”
“James, hush. He’s not interested in what kind of writing I do.”
“Yes, I am. I love to read. Would I know any of your work?” Adrian didn’t have a large collection of romances, but he had read some. He couldn’t think of any authors named Simon, though.
“You’re an author?” Grayson asked, turning to join their conversation.
The nod seemed reluctant, but the smile on Simon’s face, while small, looked genuine. “Yeah, I write under the name Tyler Jacobs, a pseudonym, but I have a few books out. But, um, I thought we were trying to get to know Adrian and Grayson, not more about boring ol’ me.”
Adrian looked to Grayson and back, then shrugged. “I thought it was so we could all get to know each other.”
“Actually, I think Chase was trying to play matchmaker,” Rhys said, shoving Chase playfully.
“Matchmaker?” Adrian asked. Whom was he trying to set up with whom? And why?
Chase scowled and swatted Rhys. “I was hoping to introduce a few new friends and hoped everyone got on well, brat.” Chase reached out and patted Adrian’s hand, confusing him further. “I swear, I’m not trying to push you if you don’t want to date anyone right now.”
“Just who were you hoping to match up?” Dale asked, smirking as he stared at Chase.
Honestly, Adrian wanted to know that as well. It was obvious Chase meant to fix him up with one of his other friends, but he couldn’t imagine which one. James was married, Chase was happily with Rhys, and he didn’t know Simon, Dale, or Grayson beyond what he’d learned of them since he’d arrived, really.
Only two of the people at the table even interested him, truth be told, but he couldn’t figure out why anyone would try to set him up with either man. In Adrian’s experience, most Hearing people didn’t overly like dealing with having a Deaf partner. His few exes certainly hadn’t, no matter what he did to seem more “normal.”
Chase shook his head, clamping his lips closed as he glared at Rhys.
“Chase?” Adrian said and signed. “Who were you hoping to set me up with and why?”
Their eyes locked for a few moments before Chase looked away, his shoulders drooping. After a moment, Chase turned back to face Adrian and replied, “Grayson. He’s in IT, like you and I are, he’s super loyal and really cute in that quiet reserved-guy kind of way.”
“Grayson?” Well, he was handsome and seemed nice, if a little stoic. Adrian didn’t know how to feel about Chase trying to set him up with one of his friends, though. “I can get my own dates, Chase.”
“I know that. It…. Grayson is really nice, and I’d love to see Rhys’s buddy happy. And I like you, but we’re not right for each other, either. I thought of you two, though. You’d make a beautiful couple. His Native American features and your slightly Asian ones….”
Winner’s Prize: $25 Dreamspinner Press Gift Card
Runner Up’s prize: An ebook from Tempeste’s backlist