Diplomacy by Zahra Owens

Blurb: Jack Christensen has everything he ever wanted. He’s a rising star in US Diplomacy, the youngest man to have been appointed as an Ambassador of the United States.  A career diplomat who’s just been sent to a politically interesting Embassy in Europe, he has the perfect wife, speaks five languages and has all the right credentials, yet there’s something missing and he doesn’t quite know what.

Then Lucas Carlton walks into an Embassy reception and introduces himself and his American fiancée. From the first handshake, the young Englishman makes an impression on Jack that leaves him confused and uncharacteristically insecure. Lucas’ position as the British liaison to the American Embassy means they are forced to work together closely and they have a hard time denying the attraction between them, despite their current relationships.

When their women decide to go on a weekend trip together, Jack and Lucas start a passionate relationship, which continues long after their partners return. Diplomatic circles are notoriously conservative though, and they each know that the right woman by their side makes a very significant contribution to their success. Will they be able to make the right choices in their professional and personal lives? Or will they need to sacrifice one for the other?

Review: After I liked Meant to be so much it was time to give Zahra Owen’s novel a go. “Diplomacy” is set over a time period of a number of years. I like that Ms. Owens chose a period as starting point that nobody will forget any time soon. This gives the whole story a very realistic touch. It’s not some faceless US President, Jack is working for, but – even though no names are given – we know exactly who we’re talking about and what happened in the world at the time.

Jack and Lucas don’t make it easy for themselves. They struggle with their attraction for each other, Jack more so than Lucas. He has been married for years, he sort of loves his wife, his career will go down the drain when he comes out. Once he decides that his love for Lucas is worth giving up his life the way he knew it he is determined – even though his future with Lucas is not certain at all. I liked that a lot. The story felt just completely right to me.

The secondary characters were very good, too. Lucas’ fiancée’s reaction was understandable. She had given up her life and her parents’ goodwill for being with Lucas, and where did that lead her? On the other hand she should have had an inkling as to what might happen. Her idea that Lucas got over this fad of fancying men – no idea where that was coming from. Possibly she was raised in one of those weird ultra conservative families where they think homosexuality can be cured with prayer and fasting. Maria I’m not sure about. I don’t know whether she reacted the way she did out of a true love for Jack and she didn’t want to loose him (question is what sort of true love that would have been) or out of greed, since she didn’t want to loose the comfy and glamorous life she was leading. Either way, it must come as a blow if your husband of umpteen years wants to leave you for a younger man.

I liked Gertje, Jacks secretary, a lot. She was supportive without ever saying so. Same with Mark, the Secret Service man.

What I also liked was the fact that the story went on over years after Jack and Lucas finally came together for good. The HEA was not only established, but Ms. Owens shows us that it IS a HEA that just goes on and on, even if there a minor obstacles to conquer.

I absolutely loved this book, Zahra Owens is definitely on my auto buy list now.

A word about the cover. There is something to be said about men in suits who let go. This cover says it all, doesn’t it. The classy look with a hint of debauchery is just perfect.

One more thought about something that might bother some people:
Jack and Lucas are cheaters – there is no way around it. Jack is married, Lucas is engaged. Both go and sleep with each other behind their partners’ backs while still in their relationships. And not once, but often. I’m not saying anything against that, I’m pretty laid back – if I see a good reason for the cheating, I’m fine with it. But every so often I have read on other blogs or discussion boards that one of the things people can’t accept in romance is cheating. Surprisingly so far I haven’t come across one review of this book that complains about the cheating angle, but if you are one of those people who think cheating is evil no matter what, this book is not for you.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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