Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2021
I LIVE FOR RINA KENT AGE GAP STORIES! Empire of Desire is everything I love about Rina Kent’s writing- it’s gritty, it’s a forbidden, it’s complicated and messy, it’s full of twists and unexpected turns, and it’s all centered by an intense, powerful, and magnetic character chemistry that evolves into one of my favorite love stories she’s written.
From the very first chapter, you know this book is going to be amazing. A story that you won’t be able to put down- because our heroine Gwen, and her longing, capture us immediately. Per usual, I don’t want to reveal too much about this plot. While this isn’t one of Rina’s “dark” romances in terms of themes, it is still chock full of all the surprises and plot twists we’ve come to expect of her work. The premise is one that is, of course, delectably delicious. Young girl, our heroine Gwen, pining after her father’s best friend- and now that she’s old enough for those emotional feelings to deepen from admiration into love and lust, she’s decided she’s going to pursue him. Only things don’t always go as planned, in more ways than one. Suddenly a forbidden relationship is blossoming that overpowers than both, and as their desire grows, and as their relationship shifts and morphs from child-dad’s best friend to man-woman, their need for one another grows more substantial and meaningful. But so much is at risk.
The unfolding drama keeps the pages turning, but the characters are what I loved about this story. I WAS DESPERATE for Nate- and Rina does not disappoint. He’s perhaps my favorite Rina hero to day (shh don’t tell Rowan), but I just really loved the nuance and character growth Rina crafted in him. He’s got some real baggage that has played out into how he views the world, himself, and relationships- but there is so much underneath the surface. I loved watching Gwen’s devotion unravel him, and I loved the beating heart we find underneath his stoic surface. AND LORDY IS HE HOT. Stoic Nate turned into a passionate dirty talker and it was ridiculously sexy. And Gwen, WOW, I adore her. An all time fav. I loved how Rina gives her the right dash of youth- so we feel the age gap, we understand the forbidden tension- but she also lets her be emotionally insightful and evolved. She’s got some immature petulance, but she’s also beyond her years- emotionally, when it comes to connecting with Nate. She has an infinite well of love and affection which is just what Nate needs, and I loved her beautiful heart.
Together these two are FIRE. SO HOT. But I loved their emotional intensity the most. The way they find vulnerability and comfort and self-actualization with each other. And each has really meaningful character growth as the result of them finding themselves in each other- Nate finds a way to open his heart, to confront his issues, and Gwen finds her strength, finds a way to stand on her own. And the secondary characters are also fantastic- we get some previews for potential leads to come, catch up with some unexpected favorites too. I especially really loved Gwen’s relationship with her father - the tenderness of their connection brought me to tears in a few places, and the challenges they face (being vague on purpose) connect us so deeply with them both. Really brilliant to have us feel that relationship so intensely, because it helps build the conflict and tension when it comes to Gwen’s attraction to Nate.
We have some good juicy drama- and omg some mind blowing revelations, too. But amidst all the amazing drama and steam, and all the emotional tension, we also have some unexpectedly sweet and swoony tender moments that just stole my heart. This Empire world is shaping up to be a new favorite- and Gwen and Nate are for sure an all time favorite couple. One of my favorite Rina books to date!