Desire and the Deep Blue Sea is a cream puff of a story: sweet, delicate and perfect. Dade’s hero is the epitome of a Cinnamon Role Hero — a term that Dade has coined — and a great foil for the prickly heroine.
Thomas McKinney is an absentminded librarian who is brilliant and deeply focused to the point of abandoning other library patrons to help one patron on their research. This frustrates librarian Callie Adesso no end, because she then ends up having to field all patron requests. And as luck would have it, Thomas always seems to end up on the same shift as her. Over the months, Thomas’ behavior has caused Callie untold anxiety to the point that she has started getting stress hives.
In the meantime, Callie and her boyfriend, Andre, had signed up to film “the life of a loving couple in paradise” for HATV’s Island Match program. Callie has been looking forward to going on the trip to get away from work. Unfortunately, her relationship with Andre reaches a breaking point and she finally jettisons him from her life. While she’s breathing easier as a result, her breathing also hitches every time she considers how that tropical vacation is floating away from her grasp.
She spies Thomas one frantic day just as HATV are canceling on her. In a wildly-out-of-character response, she tells them that she has a new boyfriend and he is gung-ho about doing the TV shoot with her. Contrary to her belief, she thought she would need to log in hours of begging, Thomas agrees right away to her suggested deception. Little does she know it, Thomas has been in love with her for months and is eager to share a holiday with her.
Callie is unconvinced that even seven days in a paradisiacal island will change her negative opinion of Thomas. In fact, she is convinced that she will have to continually grit her teeth in order to pretend that he is her boyfriend and that they are in love. She hopes they’re both good actors and can turn in believable interviews and photo shoots for HATV.
You think you know how something is going to happen, you are sure of it, and then life surprises you with turning the improbable into possible, even desirable, and you wonder how your thoughts could have ever been do diametrically opposite before. All that has gone before is explained away and sunk to the bottom of a deep blue sea, making room for new feelings, new plans, new pleasures.
Pretending to be in love with him allows her to notice how kind and attentive he is to her, how highly he thinks of her, and how much he is attracted to her. Away from the stress of work, she lets the island work its relaxing magic on her (before its forced gaiety creeps her out). I really liked how Dade gets her character to dig deep into their subconscious to discover who they are and what they like. This journey into discovery makes it permissible to look at everything and everybody around them with new eyes.
Dade understands women very well, and in Thomas, she has created the perfect mate. Thomas offers understanding, acceptance, companionship, respect, and affection all wrapped up in a sexy package. Thomas really listens to what Callie is saying and changes his behavior accordingly. A man who takes feedback and gives the woman the respect of knowing her own mind is incredibly attractive. Dade gave Thomas the patience to wait for Callie to discover her feelings for him and the perseverance to not abandon his love for her as unrequited when faced with her resistance. Patience and perseverance are two sides of the same coin, both equally valuable and equally necessary in a relationship. Thomas never gives up on her.
If you’ve heard the term “Cinnamon Role Hero” thrown around on Romance Social Media and wondered who such a hero is, look no further than Desire and the Deep Blue Sea.