Three Wrong Turns in the Desert by Neil Plakcy
From the moment he sees handsome Liam McCullough showering naked behind a Tunisian bar, ESL teacher Aidan Greene wants to screw the sexy bodyguard. At first, though, a dead courier and beefy hired thugs get in the way. But Liam soon convinces him ~ with wiles and smiles and solid logic ~ to join him on a race across the desert for a rendezvous with a Tuareg tribe at a remote oasis. Then nothing can stop them from getting naked and getting it on. Together they explore the passion Liam hid from as a closeted Navy SEAL, and the love Aidan’s missed after his longterm boyfriend kicked him to the curb.
From the back of a motorcycle to a Turkish bath to a remote dune in the desert, these two Romeos find ways to bring each other to the heights of pleasure. So what if they’re carrying the password to a million-dollar Swiss bank account and being chased by Libyan intelligence agents determined to stop them at all costs? Love and lust fuel their passion and not even three wrong turns in the desert will keep them from surviving this adventure alive ~ and together.
Although I’m a fan of Neil Plakcy’s mystery series, this particular adventure/romance mix didn’t live up to the excitement and entertainment normally associated with his work. Mostly well written with a few obvious and notable mistakes, the characters, and more importantly the setting, come to life in the rich heat of the desert in a foreign land. The actual adventure and mystery is somewhat forgettable when the action threads are often ignored in favor of romantic tension and an over the top ending. However, fans of the author’s will enjoy the writing and engaging characters who are enough to carry the book to its conclusion. Not a home run unfortunately, but this won’t keep me from supporting and enjoying the author’s work.
The story revolves around an ESL teacher, Aidan Greene, who has taken extreme measures to get over a recent breakup. After more than a decade with the same man, Aidan decides to take an adventurous new job in northern Africa to get over his ex. However, once Aidan arrives in Tunisia, nothing goes right. An unexpected partnership with an ex-SEAL turned bodyguard, Liam McCullough, provides Aidan with more excitement and romance than he thought. Now the two must race against unknown forces to stop terrorism and save the world.
Well perhaps saving the world is a bit overstated but Aidan and Liam end up embroiled in a terrorist plan and must enlist the help of SEALs, diplomats, and tour directors alike to solve the mystery. The actual mystery is a bit simplistic ~ Liam must deliver information to the paid buyer and evade capture from those who want the information for themselves. This would have worked rather well if there was more emphasis on the details and action. Instead, during the action scenes, the characters would often information dump with various past deeds, thoughts, and internal musings on emotion. While this information is not unwelcome, the timing and placement of such dissipated any tension and dramatic impact the action scenes would have had.
For example, early on Aidan is chased by a group of street boys which leads him to find an out of the way bar where he meets Liam for the first time. While Aidan is being chased and supposedly frightened, he is musing on his past with his ex Blake, the reasons he’s in Tunisia, his past travel prior to meeting Blake, and his fears about not fitting into the strange city. All of this information helps develop Aidan’s character and motivation but the fact that it all happens while he is running through the streets away from potential harm overshadowed the action. In fact, I actually forgot he was being chased for a page or two. This kind of scene is repeated in the story where the action is overshadowed and muted by thoughts, information, and character development in inappropriate places. Thus there was a palpable lack of tension and dramatic conflict. The story seems to meander gently along as the men cross the desert and there is no big end scene even though the details of the final resolution are somewhat far-fetched ~ there were women, children, and innocents in that building.
Although the action was muted and somewhat forgettable, the characters are well developed and fully three-dimensional. The motivations, decisions, and history are fully incorporated into the story and their sexual chemistry is raw and sexy, sometimes visceral and other times muted. The small details are definitely a welcome addition and although there is plenty of romance and sensuality, there is an honest, masculine voice to the writing that is much appreciated. Added to this is the wonderful desert setting where the heat, grit, sweat, and taste of the country come alive in vivid detail. Some of the places visited are riveting and enthralling while fun ideas such as the camel riding inject humor into the situation.
The only other aspect I do want to mention is that although the writing is very clean in some places, in others there are noticeable errors. These include the wrong name used, pronoun confusion, grammar mistakes, and a few other minor problems. Some of these are small and others are slightly jarring. Overall the prose choices are solid and interesting, keeping the story moving along the same pace and style. This consistency helps deliver a good story that didn’t work so well for me, but others may like it better. The unique voice and writing that Plakcy offers stands out in the genre and well worth reading.
Get it HERE!