Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert by Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy
Three Wrong Turns in the Desert
Loose Id, 2009

This is the first book about Aidan and Liam. Recently a sequel, Dancing With the Tide came out, in which another adventure of bodyguards Aidan and Liam takes place.

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.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, contemporary, suspense, action, mystery, ex-SEAL, bodyguard, Tunisia, violence, terrorism.

Why I read it:
The author asked me to read and review this novel. I’d never read any of his books before but had heard good things about the Mahu Mysteries series.

Aidan came to Tunisia to reinvent himself after his boyfriend dumped him. He meets bodyguard and ex-SEAL Liam and ends up in one big adventure with him, due to an initial misunderstanding. One thing leads to another and they end up on the run for thugs to bring a secretive mission to a good end. Meanwhile their mutual attraction makes for more than one hot night.

My opinion in short:
Three Wrong Turns in the Desert is a sexy, romantic read that has a lot more to offer than just an engaging, hot gay couple that falls in love: namely suspense, mystery and action. I enjoyed the setting of North Africa and the author made me practically feel the heat of the desert. His heroes are easy to love and their chemistry is great, and not only in a sexual way. I would’ve liked a little more internal conflict and focus on insecurities and fears, and a bit more ‘showing’ than ‘telling’ in the writing, but the choices the author made regarding these aspects had its own advantages. If you like an uncomplicated romantic story arc with a strong back story full of suspense, I can highly recommend this entertaining novel. I not only look forward to the sequel of this novel, Dancing With the Tide because of my curiosity about the romantic future of this sexy couple, but also because of the thrill of a new adventure, and perhaps the latter even prevails.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

What’s more to know about this book:
Somewhere in the book we read: “Mean people suck. Nice people swallow. Aidan swallowed.” And that sums up Aidan pretty well, he is a very nice guy. I adored him, not only his kindness and pliability, but also his inventiveness, his sexiness and his passion for excitement and new things. The excellent character development is, in his case, fueled by the adventure and his relationship with Liam.
Liam is more the strong and silent type. He’s in control, sexy and taking charge but not very talkative about his past or feelings. The longer he is in Aidan’s company the more the other man disarms and surprises him and the more Liam opens up to him.
As a couple they do not only have a great sexual chemistry, they also interact smoothly and form a great team in fighting the bad guys. It’s very convincing by the end that they are a perfect match for each other, although they hadn’t figured that quite out themselves. Thanks to little glimpses of their feelings and thoughts about each other - like admiration, surprise, lust and joy - the falling in love came gradually but steadily. I enjoyed this kind of relationship exploration very much. Sometimes the lack of a conflict can work just fine.
Two alternating points of view in third person (Aidan and Liam). This provided all the information I needed and I never had to guess what was going on. Consequently I had sometimes more information than the protags and was never afraid or kept in suspense together with one of them about the whereabouts of the other man. I admit that perhaps I would’ve liked the insecurities and fears a bit more exposed and dragged out.
The plot is very dynamic. This book is a romance, mystery and action novel in one, with all the matching elements of those genres interwoven into one plot. It never gets boring. With a full plot like that it sometimes can get confusing on what to focus though. And at certain moments I was wishing for more developments in the romantic department and at other moments I wanted more information about the mysterious assignment and its who’s and why’s. But in the end all different threads were knitted nicely together into one big, colorful scarf that wrapped comfortably around my shoulders.
M/M. The sex scenes were sensual, hot and rather uncomplicated, especially when one takes the lack of beds, showers and lube into account. These scenes aren’t the main focus of the relationship building.
Writing style
The author is a great story teller and tells his story straightforward. His writing is lucid and pleasant. The strongest characteristic of his prose is the accurate descriptions of a setting with which he evokes colorful, lifelike images - for example of the medina (the old part) of a North African city:
“The sounds in the medina were overwhelming, from the calls of the merchants in harsh Arabic to the methodical pounding of the repoussé artisans and the Arabic pop music blasting from speakers.
They passed souks full of carpets, elaborate birdcages with pointed arches, brass teapots, and cotton blouses in a rainbow of colors, embroidered with intricate designs. He saw a souk stocked with the long, hooded cloaks called djellabas and thought he might buy one to wear at night while relaxing and grading papers.
Sweet aromas wafted out of the spice vendors' souks; the leathermakers' stalls were pungent. They even passed the perfumers' souks, where the flowery scent combined with the delicate colorful bottles to assault the senses.
At the fez-maker's souk, an old man was proudly demonstrating the traditional process.”
I admit that I’m probably a little biased and I might have enjoyed these descriptions of North Africa so much because I’ve been there, and these parts of the book brought back good memories.
At the same time the writing style made me a little lazy, because everything was told and explained and not much was left for me to put together with my own imagination. I usually enjoy a story more when the writing does ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’, especially when it concerns the intimate scenes between the protags.

Favorite scene/quote:
Apart from the colorful descriptions I mentioned above, I also enjoyed little quips and ironic comments like this one:

“Maybe he could write a book. He'd been thinking about writing an ESL text for a few years, unhappy with the materials that were available. Or maybe a novel about two gay guys chasing through the desert and falling in love.
No, no one would believe that one.”

Neil Plakcy’s website | on Twitter | on Goodreads
Buy Three Wrong Turns in the Desert here

Other m/m romances by this author:
Dancing with the Tide (sequel of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert)


  1. I enjoyed this one as well. It was a fun adventure story. Although I think there had to be sand in ouchy places. LOL

    I also loved the setting and finding out that there is really a place there where they shot the Star Wars movie and you can stay in a hotel. Squeee. Geek moment. :-)

    Great review Janna.

  2. Hmm, I'm not sure how I missed this one. It sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. Wonderful review, Janna!

  3. @Tam: LOL about the sand! And I would've never guessed you were that geeky *g* ;)

    @Lily: I think you'll enjoy it too, Lily! :) And there's even a sequel now.

  4. I like that this takes place in North Africa *adds to Friday Night buy list* ;)

  5. Hmm. This is already on my reader. I wonder why I haven't read it yet?!

  6. That cover alone is enough to convince me :) Nice review Janna. xoxo

  7. Sounds good - why haven't I seen it before? lol Time to go shopping again. I know, it's such a struggle. :)

  8. @KC: Me too, because it's something different from other settings in m/m romances.

    @Chris: Uhm, maybe because there are so many books on your ereader? ;)

    @FV: Pff, so much for all my effort, I could've just posted the cover. ;D

    @Tracy: I know all about the struggle! So many books to choose from. Le sigh. :)

  9. Then nothing can stop them from getting naked and getting it on.

    Lol, if that doesn't sell it then I do not know what could ;)

  10. humm very interesting... a hidden author.... Very nice of you to take a chance... that is the gem in this!!!! I love it!! Great review honey!!!!!!!!
    Oh man.... I love Blodeuedd's words, lmbo!!!

    Have a great weekend honey!! Hugs to you!

  11. Thank you Janna! Hmmm. It sounds good, but...

    Although I think there had to be sand in ouchy places. LOL

    The mind boggles!

  12. This sounds like another great read Janna :) I want to get to know the characters and experience the backdrop myself...on thw wishlist it goes!

    3 hours and 16 minutes until Netherlands - Brazil, Are.You.Ready!!! *shakes orange pom pom*

  13. @Blodeuedd: Did you buy it already? ;) LOL!

    @Cecile: You're too kind, hon, thank you! :) I hope you have a great weekend too with lots of good smut! ;)

    @orannia: LOL! Yeah, well, it takes place in a desert, so lots of sand there. ;)

    @Leontine: Squeee!! I'm ready, hon! Only 30 minutes to go before kick off!!! I'm all excited and anxious. Enjoy the match and keep shaking those pom poms, hon! :D


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