Designs of Desire



Title : Designs of Desire

Author : Tempeste O’Reilly


Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)

Genre : M/M, Contemporary, BDSM/kink

Length : 200 pages (e-book)

Published : July 29, 2013

Rating : ★★1/2



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?


James Bryant is an artist currently working in a design firm where his immediate boss constantly gives him a hard time and only gives James the jobs no-one else wants. When he gives James a new brief, he assumes it’s more of the same, until his best friend and co-worker informs him that it’s “not like most of the scraps Brian-the-dick tosses you.” In fact, it’s for a chain of hotels being developed that cater specifically for the GLBT community, and the CEO is hot!

When Seth first sees James he’s instantly attracted to the man who, although suffering from a physical disability, refuses to let it define him. Seth wants James and is determined to get him. At their second business meeting on site of the first hotel, James runs into his ex, who’s a part of the construction crew and has a panic attack as memories of his abusive past come flooding back. Seth calms him and reschedules James’ presentation for later that afternoon. After the presentation, Seth makes his move, informing James that they are going to dinner, where he proceeds to order for James. A week later and Seth arrives at James’ studio attached to the house. After the tour, Seth orders take-out for them (as he feels like Indian and doubts that James can make that) and the night ends in sex.

This is not so much an insta-love as it is an insta-relationship. There’s no build up, no getting to know the characters, no discussion before Bam! They’re suddenly dating. As we learn later when he states that James is submissive, Seth is apparently kind of a Dom but his behaviour mostly comes across as overbearing, controlling and manipulative. Seth really needs to work on his communication skills. There’s no discussion about a relationship, never mind any form of a BDSM one, yet Baby and Pet abound pretty much right from the start. It’s like the author is forcing a fast connection between the MCs instead of letting it happen organically.

About a quarter of the way in, we learn that James actually has a genetic condition that contributed to the severity of his injuries sustained in an accident caused by his abusive ex. And that’s how the majority of information is given – piecemeal and often in an almost throwaway fashion after the fact. I think that was one of the biggest reasons I had trouble feeling any connection to either character, their relationship or the story. So much of the information is either only hinted at or doled out later on with people from the MCs pasts suddenly cropping up out of the blue and other things glossed over, so it’s really hard to understand the why of something. The narrative jumps all over the place, essentially answering the question before it’s even asked thus putting the answer out of context.

There is absolutely no indication to gauge how much time has actually passed, not only from the beginning of the book to the end, but also from one scene to the next. To me, it only seems a matter of weeks, a few months at the most, but the characters talk and act as if it’s been quite some time. The writing was a bit clunky – it’s like chunks of the book had just been left out, the dialogue was often stilted and there was a lot of telling rather that showing. The sudden change from one scene to the next was very jarring. One minute we’re in the middle of meet the parents and the next we’re suddenly in a sex scene. I had to keep stopping and get my brain to change gears. I felt like the author was trying too hard with flowery descriptions like “his piercing blue orbs” and “his hungry, throbbing entrance” along with a fair bit of sugary sweetness.

The premise sounded lovely and I was hoping I would love this book. In the end, it just felt like the author was trying to cram too many different things into the book. BDSM elements, insta-love/relationship, tragic past, childhood abuse, a kid, evil grandparents suing for custody of said kid, abusive ex’s (3 of them!), mystery, threats, a homophobic family and psychotic brother and mother. The result of which is all of those elements feeling underdeveloped.

Although I certainly have no objection to it, I’m not usually all that fussed on kids in romance books, but in this case it actually made things more interesting. I really liked Danni. She was definitely my favourite character. In fact, The extra half star is just for her. The cover is gorgeous.

Rated 2.5 stars by BookSmitten

LYLBTB 25 star