Age-gap, forced marriage, new adult, angst, and a possessive alpha hero were all enthralling elements in Empire of Desire.
While this is a standalone, if you’ve read the Thorns Duet, as I have, you’ve been as intrigued by Nate as I was, and yet his story was so much more than I could have anticipated.
Gwen felt emotions deeply, she made a valiant effort to keep them locked up tight, but that only works for so long before those emotions erupt, triggering every coping mechanism a person has in an effort to find some solace from all of the feelings you don’t want to feel. Her emotions hit me hard, a tsunami of feels, as she waded through heartbreak and tragedy. She was also sassy, defiant, and those are the qualities you need when you end up married to the man you’ve loved from afar for years.
Nate was a stoic, a workaholic, a master of displaying nothing but cold indifference, and all it takes for some of that to melt away is making a decision out of necessity that puts him next to the woman he’s done everything he could to avoid for years. His mask is mostly still intact, but when his control is finally shattered, his possessiveness and alpha side emerged, and he upped the bossy book boyfriend game.
Nate and Gwen were like a ticking time bomb; their chemistry was palpable from the start, and the intensity between them flourished with every word. Her defiance, combined with his bossy, controlling demeanor, sparked a fiery passion. They were made for each other, in ways that they hadn’t realized, however it ‘s never that simple..
Angsty feelings were coming from everywhere, inner demons were bubbling to the surface, and some of their worst nightmares were playing out in front of their eyes. My heart shattered right alongside Gwen’s, and her ability to not feel is something I’ve mastered as well, but when that’s no longer possible, it’s as if the floodgates open, letting them all out at once. My heart was heavy, tears flowed, and she never gave up or let these things darken her tender heart.
Empire of Desire is one of the year’s best angst reads. A heady mix of an ardent connection, a possessive alpha hero, and an empathetic sassy heroine, brimming with emotion and burning levels of steam.