The Art of Desire
Grade : C+

If you could do the Time Warp back to 2001, you might love Stacey Abrams’ re-release, The Art of Desire. Nowadays Abrams isn’t separating her powerhouse political brilliance behind the romantic suspense pseudonym of Selena Montgomery, but in this re-issue, she’s thrust her literary chops back two decades to a time when she was an emerging author with a scattershot storyline that included ALL the stuff.

Phillip Truman is a former congressman with a side hustle at the ISA – the International Security Agency. His last assignment lasted about three years longer than intended, and he spent them undercover in a terrorist organization called Scimitar. The years were lonely and stressful, but also successful because he was able to help destroy Scimitar from within. He’d returned home a hero, with the media clamouring for his story and bleeding into the new normal of his low-key, incognito life that had no place for fame and recognition. The transition has been a struggle, and though the few people in his inner circle are worried about him, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He especially doesn’t want to talk about his ex-fiancée marrying his bestie, so he does what he’s trained himself to do: retreat into solitude.

Alex Walton is an artist who excels in myriad art forms, ranging from clay to stone, oil, and pen. She’s “flamboyant with a careless charm” that draws the attention of men and women, and she’s not sorry. She’s not humble, either, and often finds herself the recipient of unwanted affection. It must be tough, right? Her breezy attitude lets little things like love and responsibility brush right off her shoulders, until they can’t because, inevitably, responsibility steps in. She’s a self-professed great friend with plans to remain a “spinster to the end of days”, but even she recognizes the falsehood for what it is: her own retreat into solitude.

The Art of Desire is a quick read, but very perfunctory, and I have a couple of issues with it, in general. First off, it’s written from too many PoVs – back in 2001, head-hopping was the norm (hello my OG romance favorite, Julie Garwood). Here, Abrams sets the prologue from the perspective of the terrorist Zeben. Chapter One begins in Phillip’s PoV before being hijacked by his father’s PoV during a phone call in the same scene. It’s hard to follow, and the rest of the book continues in this fashion. I’ve trained myself to follow a single PoV at a time over the last twenty-three years, so it’s weird. There are a ton of characters, many with formal titles, and there are lots of government and terrorist agencies, all with proper names and acronyms. It’s as though Abrams’ editor said, ‘you’re only going to be able to publish one romantic suspense in your whole life, so you better put in all the stuff you want this time around.’ And she did.

I wanted to love this book because Stacey Abrams is a super-deluxe-triple-A-plus individual, but this story was just okay. In the forward, Abrams notes that she was writing romantic suspense while working as a “young tax attorney … while pursuing my interests in voting rights and democracy.” And that’s just how the story and structure reads: young, and dated. In the decades since this book was originally published, Abrams’ experiences as an attorney, politician, and community leader have provided the robust landscape to perfect her storytelling chops. Case in point – check out her Avery Keene series when you’ve got a chance. Age has been good for Abrams, both on the page and off, because neither her life nor her books are dull any longer.

Reviewed by Dolly Sickles

Grade: C+

Book Type: Romantic Suspense

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : November 2, 2023

Publication Date: 09/2023

Review Tags: AoC PoC Reissue

Recent Comments …

  1. Thank you . I read the free sample and the nonsense you expound on above was sufficiently grating to me…

  2. I was Shane when l was 10 ye old l love the theme song what a thing between Shane and…

Dolly Sickles

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments