Title: Desert Heat/Native Tongue
Author: Lucy Felthouse
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Run Time: 5 hours 26 minutes
At a Glance: A surprisingly sweet love story made that much better by an engaging narrator.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Their love is forbidden by rules, religion and risk. Yet still they can’t resist.
Captain Hugh Wilkes is on his last tour of duty in Afghanistan. The British Army is withdrawing, and Wilkes expects his posting to be event-free. That is, until he meets his Afghan interpreter, Rustam Balkhi, who awakens desires in Wilkes that he’d almost forgotten about, and that won’t be ignored.
They may be back on British soil, but the battle isn’t over.
When Captain Hugh Wilkes fell for his Afghan interpreter, Rustam Balkhi, he always knew things would never be easy. After months of complete secrecy, their return to England should have spelt an end to the sneaking around and the insane risks. But it seems there are many obstacles for them to overcome before they can truly be happy together. Can they get past those obstacles, or is this one battle too many for their fledgling relationship?
Review: I enjoyed this story when I first read it last year. I am LOVING Joel Leslie’s work (just listened to ALL the Skyler Foxe mystery series in the last month), so I thought I’d give this a whirl. I was not disappointed.
In Desert Heat, Hugh Wilkes and Rustam Balkhi meet when Hugh returns for his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, and Rustam is his assigned interpreter. They feel an instant connection and while away from the base, they realize their attraction is mutual and they act on that attraction. For Hugh, this is the first time that he is attracted not only physically but also emotionally and intellectually to another man, but he is terrified of the consequences for both himself and Rustam should anyone find out. These circumstances sober both men, but they don’t want to give up on their budding relationship. They can’t get enough of each other but are very careful to hide their real relationship and the love they feel that has surprised them both. The narration really added to the sizzling chemistry between these two.
In Native Tongue, Rustam has returned to his medical school studies in London and Hugh has returned to his base in Wiltshire. On his first free weekend, Hugh travels to London to see his boyfriend. They are both nervous and have missed each other like crazy. They also have to negotiate a totally new relationship since they are no longer in a hostile war zone. They spend a lot of time alone together, but they both realize that they need to navigate their new reality and figure out how to just be two gay men in a relationship. There are some funny and touching moments as they try to navigate their way on a date which once again, Joel Leslie hits spot on.
One of the other sticking points is that Hugh is not out to his coworkers or his family. When he needs to go home for his dad’s birthday celebration, he’s not sure if it’s the right time to bring Rustam and come clean. Turns out that Hugh had no worries and his family is wonderful and funny and loving.
I really enjoyed both stories and the narrator really made the scenes between Hugh and Rustam hot hot hot! I didn’t think there was that much sex in this story, but it seemed like more in the audiobook. Regardless, this is a surprisingly sweet love story of two likeable characters who bring out the best in each other, which was definitely enhanced by this narrator who has quickly become a favorite!
You can buy Desert Heat/Native Tongue here: