Despite the loving support of his family, Lorcan James wants to try life on his own, so at twenty-one, he finds himself walking halfway across the country in search of adventure. What he finds is desperation, desperation that leads him straight to Whispering Pines Ranch and right into the path of its strong, arrogant, gorgeous owner, who awakens something in Lorcan he didn’t even know existed.
Quinn Taylor is up to his neck in grief and frustration dealing with a neighboring rancher who wants nothing more than to see him go belly-up. He doesn’t need more complications, but from the moment he lays eyes on Lorcan, his world turns upside down. Despite finding in Quinn what his heart craves, Lorcan refuses to be Quinn’s dirty little secret—and Quinn isn’t the only one vying for Lorcan’s attention. Ranch hand Jess will happily declare his love for Lorcan to the world, something Quinn won’t offer—something Lorcan needs above all else.
I found the progression of this novel to be a bit unsteady, but it developed nicely and reached a rather interesting and satisfying conclusion.
Let’s start with the not so good. I had a heck of a time figuring out when this book was supposed to take place — Lorcan refers to his mother and father as Mama and Daddy, a phrasing that made me think this was a historical western. It was, however, a present-day novel.
A grown man referring to his parents as Mama and Daddy seemed slightly off, especially given Lorcan’s feisty and determined attitude. And in terms of word choice, I found the combination of Mama and Daddy always sounded wrong in my head; Mama is usually paired with Papa, while Daddy is usually paired with Mommy. (I think it’s the Daddy that I found difficult more than Mama — Daddy, versus Dad, sounds a bit juvenile.)
Anyway, word choice is a minor thing, especially since this is the character’s voice and Lorcan might have perfectly valid reasons for such an odd pairing of names for his parents. Let’s move on to Lorcan’s name. I spent the first third of the book trying to decipher this guy’s ethnicity because I figured such a unique name has to be an ethnic one. I just couldn’t sort it out, though, so I Googled it. Lorcan is an Irish name that means “little fierce one.” And then I had problems. I’m all for naming characters appropriately — Lorcan, the character, suits his name as he is fierce and much smaller in size (broadwise) than the other characters… but I still found this to be a little too literal. Anyway, that aside, Lorcan is an Irish name. Given it’s rareness in North America, I’m going to assume it’s used almost exclusively by the Irish and has not been adopted by non-Irish parents. So I decided Lorcan is Irish… only to see him referred to many times as having olive skin. Olive skin is a Mediterranean look, not Irish. So, I got all confused again. Oh well…
These nitpicks are, however, down to personal choice and they aren’t choices I would make as a writer. There were, however, a handful of incomplete sentences and the writing could be cleaned up just a tad — but the writing quality was overall exceptional.
Now let’s move on to the good.
Of all the gay erotic romance I’ve read in the past year — and nearly all of them were written by women — SJD Peterson seems to do the best job writing sex between men accurately. I found her descriptions and passages to be believable/true, erotic, and all kinds of sexy. She also had an almost-anonymous hookup scene, which is much more realistic to the gay community. (I say “almost anonymous” because we learned the guy’s name.)
The development of the tempestuous relationship between Quinn and Lorcan was enjoyable to read, and very believable given how the characters were developed. When a competing relationship blossoms between Lorcan and Jess, we are presented with some drama between the characters. I have to say that I LOVED this. A number of the romance books I’ve read lately have had little in the way of plot development with the relationship — the two men met, fell in love, and overcame a small obstacle to be together — but Peterson gives us a stormy love triangle that is tearing Lorcan up inside and shredding Quinn emotionally. The resolution, which I won’t give away here, was certainly not what I expected. It’s not often (so far) that a romance novel surprises me in its ending, but this one certainly did.
I see on the Dreamspinner Press website that this is the first in a trilogy, so, presumably, we get to see how this triangle develops or shatters. Of the many series “first books” I’ve read lately, this is one of the few where I’m keen to read the follow-up. (I’ll still wait a bit, though, as I’ve got two dozen ebooks loaded and ready to read — but I will get around to buying book two at some point.)
Lorcan’s Desire is definitely one of the better gay romance novels I’ve read of late.