Review: Desert Heat by Lucy Felthouse

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.

Please note: this book was previously published as part of the Unconditional Surrender bundle.

I'm about to sound 16 different kinds of sexist. Apologies in advance for any butthurtedness I may cause.

This felt very m/f to me. Let me just clarify my position here. I've worked with soldiers. I have ex-military in my family. I've befriended active duty and veterans alike and the common denominator between them is they're all (to varying degrees) prickly hard-asses. They don't talk about their feelz unless there's some sort of dire consequence. In fact, let me tell you a story. A friend of mine's husband, a commissioned officer, had been on multiple tours to Iraq. At one point, the military made it "mandatory" that all returning service men and women have a psych eval. He didn't go. Ever. Neither did any of his friends/acquaintances/soldiers and that shit was MANDATORY. 

So the fact that the first time Wilkes and Balkhi take the fuck truck to Pound Town one of them brings up The L Word didn't strike me as very authentic. 

And the second time they're talking about their future? Together? After Wilkes has been mostly avoiding Balkhi since they got to the FOB? Maybe the falling into the love happened primarily off the page because it caught me off guard.

"I think I love you, Rustam Balkhi. Now please, make me come."

I'm not saying it couldn't happen I'm just saying I had a hard time believing a career soldier, a Captain no less, and a Muslim Afghani interpreter would be so forthcoming. I'm thinking their masking capabilities and stuffing their emotions would be highly attuned, so my suspend reality button didn't fully engage.

Anyway… the first 50% or so reads as a very dry account of military life on the FOB in contemporary Afghanistan in a fizzling war in a country still fraught with danger. Ms. Felthouse seems to have a firm grasp of military speak and the level of dexterity sometimes required interacting with a chain of command that showed but didn't make for an exciting read. 

The dialogue felt stilted more often than not and there was an excess of superfluous information that didn't serve a purpose. Case in point:

Reaching down, he grasped the base of the condom, holding it as Balkhi clambered off. Casting around for the wrapper, he removed the rubber and carefully stuffed it inside, then placed it on the sideboard, out of the way.

I didn't hate it and I would likely read something else from this author. I'm guessing she's fairly new to the m/m genre and I like where her head's at with choosing military MCs. That shows promise.

Recommend to military fans and those interested in dipping their toes into the m/m pond.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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