Title: Desire by Design
Author: Paula Altenburg
May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed Desire by Design and thought that the story had a lot to offer. Eve is an extremely likable character who is struggling to come into her own after a disastrous marriage. Her large, loud family is overbearing, and she clashes with her mother at every gathering. She feels that she’s been nothing but a disappointment to her family, and she now has the dubious honor of being the only member to have been divorced. Worse, her ill-fated marriage lasted only two weeks before she realized that she married a jealous, controlling, abusive man. Vowing to focus only on herself and her career so she would avoid making another mistake, Eve dives into her position as a project manager with a gusto. Her latest job is to oversee the construction of the new city hall building, and right from the get go, she is confronted with strife and personality conflicts – mostly with Bob, the self-serving mayor.
When Matt Brison enters her construction trailer, Eve is in for an even larger challenge; Matt is a well-renowned architect from Toronto, and he’s been put in charge of designing the new building. For his uncle. You know, that annoying, self-serving mayor guy. I loved the built in conflict here; Eve is fantasizing about how to bump him off, and now she’s stuck working with his fancy, well-paid nephew. Matt wants to do his uncle proud for all of the support he’s given to him over the years. Matt’s mother was a flake, and Bob tried hard to provide some stability while Matt was growing up. Eve feels no loyalty toward the mayor and is upset about the thought of him railroading an ever increasing budget through to get his dream offices constructed. For Eve, it’s a no-win situation. Matt is accustomed to building nothing but the best, and she’s getting a migraine just contemplating the budget woes she’ll have to face. To stir things up even more between Eve and Matt, the mayor warns Matt away from Eve. She’s nothing but a bully, he tells his nephew, and she’ll do nothing but run roughshod over him in order to get her way. I loved how both Eve and Matt had to weave through the misconceptions people tossed in front of them about each other and make up their minds about each other.
Just to keep Eve from resting easy, her abusive ex ends up back in town. When Matt suspects that Eve is being threatened, he quickly dons his shining armor and offers to help her out. Because Eve has both forgotten how to trust in others or to trust her own judgment, this is the story of her learning to believe again. She needs to believe that others are decent and caring, and that she has the capacity to make the right decisions for herself. Instead of reacting to her mother and her family, she needs to stop worrying about disappointing anyone and start living again. When she finally learns to ask for help, and when she finally allows herself a second chance, I was right there cheering her on. To make the journey even more enjoyable, Matt keeps making the worst impression possible on her parents, with hilarious results. I really started feeling bad for the guy, because I didn’t see how anyone could ever live some of that stuff down. It kept the story from being too angsty, and added a nice touch of humor. It made both Eve and Matt more sympathetic and gave them an added depth of character.
I picked up Desire by Design completely on the spur of the moment. The first paragraph had me hooked, and I remained engaged in the story for the entire length. I’m looking forward to reading more from the author, because this hit all the right buttons for me.
Review copy provided by publisher