Title: Desert Heat & Native Tongue
Author: Lucy Felthouse
Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages
At a Glance: This is a sweet love story, to be enjoyed in one evening, that boasts two very likeable characters who bring out the best in each other.
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: 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. His CO is a homophobic blowhard, and the previous team’s interpreter has suffered the consequences of working with the “infidels.” These circumstances sober both men, but they don’t want to give up on their budding relationship. Rustam has put his education in London on hold to assist the British armed forces in his home country in the hopes that someday there will be peace. Hugh is a career soldier and his first duty is to his men and country. Their story is both sweet and hot. 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.
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. They no longer have to hide their feelings, but neither man has experience being out. They spend a lot of time alone, but they both realize that they need to go out in the world and figure out how they can interact with the rest of society as two gay men in a relationship. There are some funny and touching moments as they try to navigate their way on a date.
In addition to working through their relationship in London, 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 test the waters, so to speak. He also feels guilty because of Rustam’s inability to see his family. The resolution to this conundrum is quite satisfying, and there are a host of wonderful supporting characters that we get to meet along the way in London and Wiltshire.
Lucy Felthouse is a new to me writer, and these are the first stories I’ve read by her. I really enjoyed both books and her writing style. In some ways the setup was a little reminiscent of my first, and to this day one of my favorite, M/M reads—the groundbreaking Special Forces (Afghanistan, British soldier, foreign love interest). However, that is where the similarities also end. This is a sweet love story, to be enjoyed in one evening, that boasts two very likeable characters who bring out the best in each other.
You can buy Desert Heat & Native Tongue here: