Tempting Tristan, Melissa Foster
Publisher: World Literary Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Contemporary, MCs with Pasts, Coming Home, War Vet, Healing
Length: 300 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Tempting Tristan is a stand-alone M/M romance featuring two sexy, lovable alphas.
Fresh off the heels of yet another bad relationship, Tristan Brewer is taking a break from men to try and figure out where he keeps going wrong. He knows his biggest fault—he leads with his heart, not his head—and that’s never going to change. But after several introspective weeks, he’s beginning to get a handle on things. That is, until badass heartthrob Alex Wells walks into his bar…
Alex has spent eight years in the Army, months in a hospital bed, and far too long hiding his sexual identity. He’s guilt-ridden, damaged, pissed off, and up for a Silver Star—for the incident that nearly cost him his life, and kept him from his grandmother’s funeral. But all he wants to do is forget his stint with the institution that allows but doesn’t necessarily accept, and live the life he’s always dreamed of.
The chemistry between Tristan and Alex ignites from the moment they meet, and the more time they spend together the hotter the flames become. But the closer Tristan gets, the more Alex’s walls go up, and when the two walk onto a military base, Tristan finds out Alex’s physical scars aren’t the ones that run the deepest.
Tristan Brewer works at the Taproom, a bar in a town called Haborside. Harborside is a reasonable sized tourist town with its permanent locals, Tristan being one of those. He’s a really likeable person and has plenty of close friends, and the people he works for and with at the Taproom are counted among them. One night a new guy turns up at the Taproom and pretty much everyone takes notice – he’s tall, broad, chiselled and handsome, rides a bike, and has some badass swagger. A couple of the girls flirt with him but he’s not interested in them. He’s not there for them. He’s a man on a mission, as we learn, and it’s Tristan he’s interested in.
Tristan is attractive, he’s pretty comfortable in his own skin, laidback, but he has the disconcerting habit of picking partners who are all wrong for him. He wants commitment and someone who respects and loves him. He’s been hurt one too many times and he’s declared himself off limits to men. When Alex sets Tristan in his sights, it’s hard for Tristan to say no. There may be some hot and intense looks at first, and that may lead to some discussion, some very passionate kissing, which leads to Alex declaring he will ‘date’ Tristan, make him see that some guys are decent and maybe play for keeps. So Tristan’s ‘not now’ turns to ‘maybe now’ turns to ‘I can’t stop this guy getting under my skin even if I’m nervous’….
Alex’s grandmother, Arty, was a local artist, a sculptor. She and Tristan were really close. Tristan would pop by most days and they would talk. He’d look out for her. Alex spent a lot of time with Arty when he was growing up, his own mother was prone to hook up with different men and be nomadic. His grandmother and grandfather were his stability and when he had service leave he would visit his grandmother, especially after his grandfather died. When Arty wrote to Alex she would talk about Tristan, bits and pieces, letting Alex know there was this really caring guy in Harborside who looked out for her. Always letting Alex know she missed him too. Maybe good reasons for him to come home. Likewise, Arty would talk about Alex to Tristan with much love and pride. The reason Alex turned up at the Taproom when he did was to seek out Tristan. He wanted to know about his grandmother’s passing and he wanted to meet this caring guy Arty liked so much.
This book is a part push-pull between Tristan and Alex’s strong attraction and their individual concerns. Tristan worrying what could happen to his heart. Alex fearing Tristan seeing parts of his damaged body and his ill ease at showing certain people he’s gay. Alex also dealing with having missed his grandmother’s funeral while injured and in hospital. He doesn’t want to deny Tristan what he deserves but years in the military have made him rigid. He knows this. He feels angry and sad about the leftover fears he has from his service. Tristan is awesome, he asks questions and listens to Alex’s fears. In return, Alex makes sure he hears what it is that Tristan needs, endeavouring to make adjustments… but it isn’t always easy.
“T,” he says softly. “Why do you push me so hard?”
“Because even though I like you just the way you are, I can tell you’re not there yet.”
For all the parts that are emotional, and they’re definitely there, it is offset by the fact that these guys communicate and face their issues rather than running away. It means that there is no manufactured angst driving the book – I loved that.
“So, you want to put me in the friend zone?”
“Oh, hell no.” I can’t stifle my grin. “With a mouth like yours, I’m definitely keeping you in the fuckable zone. But right now you need a friend more than you need a lover, so get your sorry ass up, grab us a few beers, and let’s hammer some of this out.”
Tempting Tristan contains a good love story. The chemistry and burgeoning relationship are well written – and it’s plenty steamy. The pace is on point, it doesn’t lull at any stage. There are good secondary characters, people who are immensely likeable and supportive. Some you want to know more about – hello, Brandon.
I just want to add that I’m not always huge on the alpha male character in contemporary romance. The books I read these days tend not to be so much about, so overt about, that type of character – unless it’s a shifter/ paranormal romance. Alex being an alpha is one part of his character, yes, but not all of him. Alpha is also incorporated into something very sweet and meaningful between Alex and Tristan which I appreciated.
I’ve never read anything by Melissa Foster before Tempting Tristan but this was a nice way to start. While it is part of a series, it’s a true standalone. Friends of Tristan, characters who have either had their own story or are probably getting one, make cameos and support the MCs. While it’s always nice to know a bit more about others, and Brandon is clearly going to be up for his own story soon, it makes no difference to the two characters finding their happiness and the ability to enjoy Tempting Tristan completely on its own merits. I loved the MCs, Tristan and Alex were good together, they had passion and chemistry, and their story was touching and emotional without being OTT angst or drama driven. The primary arcs are all well written and come to a satisfying conclusion by the book’s end. It has a HEA and I was very happy to see these guys get things they both deserved – each other and some genuine happiness.
Tempting Tristan is a sexy contemporary romance with all the right ingredients for anyone who believes love is love, no matter the gender. I really enjoyed Ms Foster’s writing style, it is easy to read and flows well, the narrative touching and compelling. The book is also well edited. I hope the author’s readers put some MM romance on their radar. I also hope those who usually enjoy MM contemporary romance read this terrific book in the Harborside Nights series. I’ll be reading more by Melissa Foster in the near future. Highly recommended reading. 5 Stars!
ARC provided in return for an honest review.