We are very happy to welcome Tempeste O’Riley the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Tempeste recently published the third novel of the Desires Entwined series, Temptations of Desire on Dreamspinner Press. I interviewed Tempeste in June 2014 with the release of Desire’s Guardian. You can read that interview here, and read my review of Desire’s Guardian here.
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud omnisexual / bi-woman whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what she couldn’t–defy the hate and come out. He has been her hero ever since.
Though new to writing M/M, Tempeste has done many things in her life, though writing has always drawn her back–no matter what else life has thrown her way. She counts her friends, family, and Muse as her greatest blessings in life. She lives in Wisconsin with her children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.
Tempe is also a proud member of Romance Writers of America®, Rainbow Romance Writers, and WisRWA. Learn more about Tempeste and her writing at http://tempesteoriley.com.
Jodi: Thank you, Tempeste, for joining us today. Does Temptations of Desire begin where Desires’ Guardian ended, or do they overlap?
Tempe: Temptations of Desire very much overlaps Desires’ Guardian. They don’t begin at the same time, but close and only the epilogues are off from one another. HOWEVER, don’t think that means one is the retelling of the other, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you’ve read Desires’ Guardian already, then you know about such things as when Dal first tells Chase about liking Alex and you met Alex briefly at the hospital, but Temptations of Desire is very much the story of Alex and Dal. There are many events special and specific to this story that I cannot wait to hear from readers!
Oh, and it’s set, of course, in Milwaukee, WI, and while the Center isn’t quite like the real one, many of the other places and events are true to the city.
Jodi: I am a big fan of this series, and Dal has intrigued me since I first met him in Designs of Desire. Dal is a police officer and he seems to have a big heart. He also is Rhys’ brother. He winds up getting injured in the second book, while protecting Chase. Tell us a little about Dal’s character.
Tempe: Thank you! I simply love Dal! He’s this big burly guy that loves the gym, his Ducati, and his friends/family. Most people see the gruff exterior, but really, he’s a sweetie. He’s sort of the cuddly, slightly smaller version of Rhys, and yet all his own person.
Dal is a cop, though that’s not his life’s profession goal (have to read the book to find out what is, lol). He’s bisexual, doesn’t see race as a deciding factor in anything (as you know from his having dated Nikki and his now dating Alex), and nothing is more important to his than helping and protecting those in need. Well... other than his family, maybe. Oh, and unlike his big brother, when he sees what he wants, nothing and nobody will get in his way: Not family, work, or his own fears.
Jodi: In Desires’ Guardian, readers are introduced to Alex. We find out that his family is “not good” and that he is a chef. He seems quiet and enamored with Dal. We also know that Dal seems to be smitten with him as well. Tell us a little about Alexander, and without giving too much away, how he meets Dal.
Tempe: “Not good” is an understatement, sadly. Alexander Noble is a sweet, shy, creative gender fluid person that lets almost no one into his life, much less heart. He’s not cold; he’s just been taught that he’s not worthy of love or commitment. From losing his family to exes that have tried to hide him (either by keeping them on the DL or by insisting that Alex’s gender expression be limited to kink behind doors) to being gay bashed more than once, he doesn’t believe any man will ever truly love or embrace who he is completely.
In Alex’s life there are only a few people he trusts: Kai, his bff; Dalton, his boss (whom he is allowed—encouraged even—to dress as his gender ID shifts as long as he is still dressed in the uniform prescribed); and those that run the Center. Other than those few, Alex stays to himself, focusing on his cooking, and little else.
And smitten is an understatement, lol. Dal meets Alex in chapter one so it’s not giving anything away ;) Dal and Rhys volunteered to act as bouncers/security for a spring teen dance at the GLBT Center where Alex donates every Saturday. Not just his time or money, no Alex brings in tons of ingredients and prepares a full meal for all the youth and adults that visit the Center, whether in the shelter, in need, or just want to hang out and visit. That’s what Alex is doing when the yummy Dal comes by to check out the area for the dance one morning.
Jodi: Does trust play an important role in this relationship as it has with the other couples in the book?
Tempe: Trust is a huge thing in each of the stories I write, and is very true in Temptations of Desire. Alex has to learn to trust in Dal’s interests, even when faced with what appears to be deceit and possible cheating. Dal has to prove that he’s the man for Alex while trying to deal with homophobic coworkers, his family, and his own fears.
Jodi: The characters in this series are fictional people with real-life issues and depth. In the first two books, you have tackled some controversial issues, and in this book, Alex is being defined as being gender fluid. What is gender fluidity?
Alex, as many real gender fluid people, struggles with the fear of rejection, a past of violence, and the (inaccurate) belief that he’s not lovable. In Temptations of Desire, I gave Alex a voice, a chance, and the love he’d always hoped for and desires. I hope you’ll take a chance on a different MC and let Alex’s journey open your heart and mind to those that do not fall neatly into gender roles or identities.
Jodi: Why did you choose to explore this topic in this book?
Tempe: For many reasons... One of my children is gender fluid J. He’s young and thankfully couldn’t care less what people think of him when he dresses fem or androgynous or a blending or all boy. However, we’re been places and had others but their ignorance into our outings when they figure out the pretty girl they were just admiring is biologically my cute son. I’ve also dealt with some of the issues myself as I rarely have days where I feel truly ‘girly’ even though I’m a mom and physically very female.
As to Alex being gender fluid, you’d have to as Alex why, lol. As many authors will tell you, our characters write themselves how they see fit, rarely asking the author their opinion. Please note, my depiction of Alex is only one of many many ways gender fluid people express themselves. As with any, each person is different, this is just as true with Alex and all gender fluid people. (I thank Thorny, Dianne, Z, and a few others for all their help making Alex as real and ‘true’ as possible.)
Jodi: What type of discrimination does Alex encounter in his life?
Tempe: Oy! What hasn’t he dealt with? Everything from being thrown out of his family for being who he is, to beatings, shunnings, and even being left during a first date (the date had driven so not only was Alex left, but he had to pay the bill for an aborted date and for a taxi home). Sadly, his biggest discrimination issues are internal. He fears being hurt, so he hides who he is most of the time, which only serves to hurt himself.
Jodi: Tell us a little about your inspiration for Alex.
Tempe: Alex is gender fluid and came to me that way. I didn’t write Alex to make a statement, though I do believe Alex’s story is important, expecially the past abuse suffered for being nothing more or less than simply Alex. However, what truly brought Alex to life for me was reading about Thorny Sterling’s life and struggles as he navigates being true to Thorny, and a short I read by Dianne Hartsock (very hot and inspiring ;) ). In fact, I spent a great deal of time chatting and emailing with both of them as well as a few others, about gender fluidity, gender identity, and the issues many face, even among the LGBT community. What you get is a sweet, shy, loving but fearful Alex whose greatest hope is to find a love that can and will embrace all of him, the masculine and the feminine!
Jodi: Does the fact that Dal is bisexual play an important role in the book?
Tempe: Yes and no. Dal is mostly out, but as a butch, bike riding, 6’2” cop, unless you know him well enough, or happen to have seen him at a club, you would never guess he’s anything but straight. In fact, Alex initially believes Dal is straight and even once he knows better is worried about being hidden — about being a “dirty secret.”
I don’t have a huge thing made about it when Alex finds out Dal’s bi. Honestly, Alex figures it’s why Dal’s okay with his fluidity of gender and so he never really makes a thing out it. Dal’s been burned for being bi though so he’s reluctant to tell — many bi people fear telling even those in the LGBT community because we are often told we aren’t datable. Seriously... Many believe bi people are greedy, unable to commit, or in denial. L It’s hard to deal with that kind of prejudice, especially from within our community. Thankfully, Alex doesn’t care about Dal’s sexuality, only that Dal loves him and won’t try to hide their relationship.
Jodi: It seems as though you will continue to tackle the issues of homophobia and domestic violence in this book, as you did in the other books in this series. Do you feel these topics continue to be important societal issues?
Tempe: Homophobia and domestic violence / child abuse are, sadly, real and common issues we as a community and as individuals face. I wish that weren’t true, but until then, yes, those will be very common in many of my stories.
In Temptations of Desire, the violence isn’t domestic but police (there are many great cops out there, but sadly, they are human and prone to the same prejudice and hate as the rest of the world), child, and societal abuse / hurt.
As a survivor of abuse and the friend of survivors of various forms of abuse, I feel drawn to characters that have suffered but find they are worthy, they are beautiful, and they do not ever deserve ‘it’—whatever ‘it’ is. To help them find their hearts desire and have a little fun along the way.
Jodi: Will there be more books in this series?
Tempe: Oh, yes! I have plans for three more stories in this series (Simon’s next in fact, lol). As of now, I have Signs of Desire, Tags of Desire, and Serving Desire in the rough stages. There are actually more possible stories than those for James and Chase’s friends, but we’ll have to see who talks to me and who hides. ;)
Jodi: What else do you have planned?
Tempe: Well... on September 26th the Hope and Love Anthology came out, of which I’m one of the 15 authors who contributed stories. It’s a donation anthology that benefits the LGBT Community Center in Milwaukee, WI! I was thrilled to be a part of that (especially since I’ve been to the center in question and am friends with one of their own, lol). All stories are non-explicit as it’s designed for the teens at the Center to be able to read and enjoy as well.
Coming in November is Truth in Lace, a short (free) from Alex’s teen years—from before the events you witness in Temptations of Desire. It’s a 5k gift to my readers that (gasp) contains no sex, lol.
And... coming in Dec/Jan (so not too long now) is my first non Desires Entwined book that is still erotic, lol. Caged Sanctuary is the sexy, romantic story of Kade, a man who lost his mobility in a vicious attack and his faith in ever finding love, and Deacon, a Dom who is determined to win his love and his submission, even if he has to battle Kade to do so. Caged Sanctuary is a BDSM erotic romance. As of right now, it’s a standalone, but... one never knows what the muses will decide ;)
Temptations of Desire
Desires Entwined: Book Three
Alexander James Noble is a gender fluid gay man who gave up on finding Mister Right a long time ago. He’s not asking for much, though. He just wants a guy who loves all of him and appreciates his feminine form too.
At the local LGBTQ center where Alex regularly volunteers, he meets Dal Sayer, an officer of the Milwaukee PD. Because he’s been rejected one too many times, Alex doesn’t trust the huge cop and the interest he shows in him, but once Dal sets his mind on something, he goes all out. Pushing aside his preconceived notions, Alex opens up just a little and soon caves.
From their first date—while dealing with his father’s failing health and his parents’ demands for him to settle down and have children—Dal never takes his eyes off his goal of making Alex his. But proving to Alex he isn’t like all the men who couldn’t see him for who he truly was and only wanted to hide him away is harder than he thought.
“DAMMIT, DAL, what’s up with you today?” Rhys snapped at him. “You’ve lost count. Again.”
They were at the gym, and he knew he was supposed to be counting his reps while his big brother spotted him, but the most beautiful amber—flecked with small chips of gold and green—eyes he’d ever seen kept floating in front of him. Dal had always liked guys that were shorter, though he didn’t usually go for the more waif-like twinks like his brother. But then, he liked the delicate curves of a woman too—something his brother had never been interested in. Still, he needed to concentrate!
“Sorry. Maybe we should move on. I’m just not feeling it today.”
Rhys stared at him for a long moment. Dal knew he was being examined, but there was no way, he hoped, Rhys could know who had his mind and libido so distracted.
“How ’bout we call it a day and go grab a couple a beers?”
“Sure.” He flashed a grin as he sat up, grabbed his towel, and began wiping down the bench before standing and heading to clean up and change.
“Then you can tell me who’s got you all in a twist,” Rhys added once they were in the shower area, smirking as he dodged the towel Dal snapped at him.
“You know, you’re worse than mom with the gossip and busybody routine.” Dal grabbed his shower kit and walked off before Rhys could retaliate, as he was apt to do.
Once both men were clean and dressed, they headed to where their bikes were parked. Rhys’s black and chrome Harley Softail and his red Ducati Diavel stood out in a sea of generic cars and trucks in the parking lot.
“Meet me at Flanagan’s?”
Dal knew this was going to be unpleasant, but nodded and dutifully straddled his bike before heading out to their favorite pub on this side of town—probably in the entire metro area if he were honest.
By the time he arrived and got up the courage to go inside, Rhys had already grabbed two mugs of beer—Guinness for himself and a Murphy’s Stout for Dal—and snagged a corner booth. The grin he flashed told Dal just how serious his brother was about him spilling what was on his mind. He rolled his eyes, making sure Rhys saw him, and huffed as he flopped down on the other side of the booth.
“So dignified, Dal,” Rhys grumbled but smiled. “Now, take a couple a good pulls on your beer and tell me what’s got you so out of sorts. I haven’t seen you like this since….” Rhys bit the cuticle of his right thumb, seemingly lost in thought.
Taking a hearty gulp of his stout, Dal tried to think of a way to distract Rhys. “Ha, you just want to play yenta since your love life is so wonky right now. How is Chase, anyhow?”
Rhys’s green slit-eyed stare landed on him with a near-physical push. “I have no idea how Chase is. He works for me. Period.” Flexing his left hand repeatedly, Rhys stared down at his drink with what Dal knew was confusion and hurt.
He shouldn’t have asked that. He knew better. “Sorry, Rhys. That was low, even for me.”
Rhys looked up. His eyes seemed to clear as a small smile tugged at his lips. “It’s okay. But seriously. What’s really going on with you? Who is she? Or is it a he?” The last question came out so softly Dal barely heard it over the noise of the other patrons.
Dal looked his brother over a moment but decided that fighting with him over it wasn’t worth the headache, and well, he could use some advice. Maybe.
Dal lowered his gaze to the tabletop and breathed a deep sigh before he met Rhys’s eyes again. “His name is Alex. We’ve had roughly five minutes worth of conversation, most of which was about the upcoming dance you and I offered to bounce for. He’s, well, I don’t know what he is to the center. He was cooking when I was there, so I guess a cook or chef of some kind.”
“And by the soft tone of your voice and the glassy eyes, I’d say you’re smitten with him.” Rhys waited until Dal gave one tight nod to continue. “So, do you know anything about him? What’s he like? Do you want me to check him out?”
Dal’s head snapped up, glowering, or he hoped it was a death glare anyway. “You have enough man trouble, don’t you dare go hitting on Alex.” Dal could hear the growl in his voice but couldn’t care less. “He’s sweet and shy and has the most captivating amber eyes I’ve ever seen. His skin is so smooth it begs to be touched and is the most beautiful creamy cappuccino-like color.”
One side of Rhys’s lips turned up into a smirk. “So, he’s a pretty boy?”
“Yes. No. Ugh! Yes, he’s pretty, almost feminine in a way, yet all man at the same time. He’s the kind of person who would be beautiful and sexy either way, but he’s not like the kind of guys you usually go for and, just, you leave him alone.”
At that, Rhys let out a belly laugh the likes of which Dal hadn’t heard from his brother in a while. Not in a year or more, probably. “Don’t worry, I would never try to poach. You know better than that, little brother. But, what are you going to do about this Alex of yours?”
Dal couldn’t tell whether Rhys’s tone or the Cheshire cat grin plastered across his face annoyed him more, but he had no freakin’ clue what to do, so he settled for scowling at his brother. Not that it seemed to have any effect. Criminals, troubled teens, guys sitting in interrogation…. Sure, his “look” worked fine on them, but his brother? Nope! Besides, he hated the self-righteous look he was getting right then.
Finally, Rhys stopped grinning at him. “Fine, Dal, but I haven’t seen you interested in much of anyone in a long time. Not girl or guy, so yeah, if this guy is able to bring out your protective side like this after only five minutes, I’m going to say ‘hell yeah,’ go for it!”
“Rhys, I know nothing about him. I don’t think he likes cops much, considering he was initially hostile. I think that was more fear than anything, though, really, but no—” he grabbed Rhys’s free hand “—I do notwant you to investigate him. Promise me, Rhys.”
Rhys waited a moment before grumbling but nodded his agreement.