Talk about a premise you don’t see every day. This story involves a former escort and a porn producer. There was no way I wasn’t going to request this book when I read that synopsis.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A former escort who’s now a business consultant tries to come to terms with her feelings for an emotionally unavailable porn producer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Grace became an escort to make ends meet when her parents jacked up their finances, and was then kicked out of her house for doing so. Now that she’s out of the business and trying to make it as a consultant, she worries that one of her clients is going to find out about her past and it’s going to ruin her new career. It’s a dream come true when she scores a fairly permanent job that she loves, but then one of her scarier clients from her former profession shows up and things get uncomfortable.
Ben has been trying to prove himself to the man who raised him after his own mother turned her back on him, a man who happens to own a porn empire. He doesn’t necessarily like it though, and though he figures there’s something better out there, he can’t give up as long as he knows he’s being counted on.
So Many Hang-ups
Grace and Ben had a former hookup, but they both want different things out of life. Ben can’t commit to someone when he has this porn gig on the side (and he’s also got trust issues, so there’s that). Grace wants a happily ever after, but she doesn’t want it with someone who’s going to remind her of who she was. Forget the fact that they’re super hot for each other, super jealous of outside factors, and completely compatible…that doesn’t matter because…well, it just doesn’t. For some reason.
Plots on the Side
There was a lot going on this book. First of all, there were several subplots, and though I’m not usually a fan of too many things happening, I thought everything tied beautifully into the central story of Grace and Ben. Besides that, it was also entertaining. Ben gets a college intern and has to talk in front of his class (and that turned into a whole thing). Then there’s the thing with the creepy guy/ex-john that Grace now has to see at work. There’s also a thing with Grace’s friend Sadie getting put in the hospital by a client. That doesn’t resolve, so I’m thinking Sadie will show up in another book?
Food for Thought
There were also a lot of emotional and mental themes that I thought were well-written and thought-provoking. Grace is conflicted. While she knows why she had to be an escort and she’s tried to remain detached from that work, it’s also apparent that she struggles with the guilt and shame of what she did (full disclosure, I’m one of those people who doesn’t think there should be shame in sex work, but I also know there is because of society and what not. I won’t get on a soapbox…much). Ben’s conflict comes in the fact that though he genuinely seems to know that the porn industry has its place, he doesn’t particularly like what he’s doing in it. Much of the thoughts and discussions stayed in a gray area where right and wrong were concerned, and that was something I really appreciated about this book.
Self Imposed Walls
I didn’t really understand why Grace and Ben were so reluctant to get together. I mean, I know they had their reasons, most of which had to do with their past, but it kind of felt like they were grasping at straws. In the beginning of the story it was a little annoying. By the end though, I was able to see how it all fit in to trust issues for life choice questions, so it was fine. Still though, working in the porn industry does not exclude you from having a normal love life. Just saying.
I also questioned Grace’s philosophy about disclosing her past. I mean, I think it was her choice either way if she disclosed or not. But she says that she wasn’t hiding it, that if she was asked point blank about her previous job, she’d tell the full truth. I suppose that could mean if someone asked her what she did before. However, all I could think was that how many employers are going to say “By the way, were you ever a prostitute?'” Because that would be super awkward.
The Romance Factor
Most of the time I get all melty when the hero or heroine does sweet things. Or when you can feel the angst between them. I usually don’t feel much when the hero is an outright ass. This story kind of flipped things for me. The angst didn’t really get me because, as stated above, I wasn’t really sure what the problem was. There were a few sweet things between them, but what really got me was when they were hurting each other. I don’t know why. I usually try to gloss that over, but in this case, I got punched in the feels in the scenes where they pushed each other way, possibly because it made the HEA that much more satisfying. 3/5
The Steam Factor
Spicy, but in kind of a rough, hate-sex kind of way. Also, considering the main characters were a porn director and an escort, the level of heat wasn’t as high as one might expect. It was well-written and blush-worthy though. 4/5
Though the HEA happened as we knew it would, I liked that things didn’t turn out perfectly and there were some things that were still left unresolved. I didn’t read the first book, but the characters from that one made appearances, and I felt like they hadn’t worked out all their issues either. I liked the sense of reality that gave the story. I’m hoping Sadie gets her story. I want to know that she turns out okay.