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Laura Resnick

Recommended Reads Saturday: Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone

Recommended Reads Saturday: Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone

Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone is recommended by Brie. I love romance novels in general but I have a soft spot for contemporary romance. You can find me on Twitter (@racblog) and on my blog (http://romance-around-the-corner.blogspot.com/)

Brie says:

I am recommending this book because I recommend this book because the hero is a prostitute, which happens to be my favorite type of hero, closely followed by virgin heroes (I also love everything in between *grins*). If that’s not enough, I should say that the story is touching and has the right amount of angst to make it interesting but not overly dramatic. The heroine has her own demons to battle and the hero knows all about sex but nothing about love. Their relationship is quite tender and symbiotic; they both had something to give and something to take from it. The book isn’t without flaws, but I loved it and it stayed with me long after finishing it. Great Contemporary Romance to spend a very entertaining evening with.


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The following is an excerpt from Fallen from Grace posted with the approval of Laura Leone


 

Excerpt from Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone

© Copyright by Laura Resnick 2003 & 2011

*****

He stood before her, his stomach churning so badly he was afraid for a moment he’d be sick right in front of her.

Oh, that would be smooth.

The flickering lights of the candles cast subtle shadows across Sara’s face, bringing out those strong cheekbones which he’d often thought made her look a little exotic, as did the colorful clothes she wore, the artsy earrings she liked, and the rich darkness of her eyes.

Those curious, thoughtful, expressive eyes… which were gazing at him right now with such intensity and tender concern.

His heart contracted, just looking at her. He’d learned all too well by now that she could do this to him—make his insides quiver just by meeting his eyes.

“So… you’re not a model?” she said, trying to get the ball rolling now that he had started this conversation. “Okay.”

Say it. Get it over with. Tell her.

She said, “Is that why you told me that your face doesn’t photograph well, that you only model below-the-neck stuff?”

He nodded. “I almost always include that in the story.”

“Because… you need a handy reason,” she said, “that no one ever comes across a photo of you modeling?”

He nodded again. Of course she would figure it out right away. He knew by now how smart she was.

She continued, “You could just say they had come across photos of you, but they didn’t realize it because—”

“My body looks like anyone’s body.”

“Not quite,” she said with a touch of dryness.

Rain continued drumming gently on the roof. Ryan’s gaze shifted to Sara’s mouth. Her lips were a little swollen now, and he realized how hard he must have been kissing her before. She looked so…

God, he wanted to kiss her again.

And once she knew the truth, she’d never let him do it again.

He shouldn’t have done it in the first place. That’s what she’d think, too, once he told her.

“Ryan?” she prodded.

“Um…”

Jesus, just tell her, would you?

Her thick, dark hair was a tangled mess now. From the rain. From his hands. From that sudden tumble to the floor he’d inadvertently given her when he realized what was happening and shot out of that chair and her embrace only seconds before he’d have taken off all her clothes and made love to her.

His body was still crying out for her.

“So if you’re not a model,” she said, “then what do you do for a living?”

Say it. Say it. Say—

“I’m an escort.”

Finally! Thank you.

“An escort,” she repeated.

His breath came rushing out. “Yes. I’m an escort.”

There. It’s out. Done.

He should have told her weeks ago. When he realized how he was starting to feel about her. When he suspected how she was starting to feel about him. He should never have let things go this far between them without telling her.

He’d wanted to slit his own throat when he saw how he’d hurt her tonight. Her tears and humiliation. The wounded look in her eyes before he’d explained himself. He didn’t deserve to live, hurting her like that.

And now he wanted someone to beat him up for the way he’d been unwittingly hurting her before this. She’d thought he didn’t want her? That she didn’t attract him? Christ, he’d been pacing his cage for weeks because of her!

He’d been going so crazy lately, unable to give her up and unable to try to claim her, it had turned him into an idiot. How could he, of all people, not have realized that she needed to know he found her desirable?

Maybe I was a little preoccupied with lying to her.

Or maybe he’d just been trying to avoid this moment as long as he could. He knew that once the lid was lifted on his desire, he couldn’t continue hiding the truth from her. That was the line he’d drawn for himself somewhere along the way: He wouldn’t touch her without her knowing exactly what he was. And since he didn’t want to tell her…

“An escort.” Sara shrugged, a slight frown on her face. “Like… a PR escort?”

He blinked. “A what?”

“A public relations, um, escort. You know.” When he just stared at her blankly, his blood pounding through his throbbing head, she elaborated, “When a writer gets sent on tour to promote a book, for example… Are you saying that you’re the person who would take her around to her interviews and autographings while she’s here in San Francisco?”

Shit. She didn’t understand what he meant.

“No,” he said hollowly, “that’s not what I do.”

“Then what do you do?”

She sat with her hands folded, looking patient, intent, and encouraging.

“I, um…”

“Go on,” she urged.

“I spend time with people.”

“You spend time with people?”

“With women.”

“You spend time with women.” She still didn’t understand.

He looked away. “Maybe at a party, or a restaurant, or on a trip…” Come on, spill it. “Maybe in bed.”

“In bed? Are y…” Now her voice was uneasy. “I mean, when you say… Is this—”

“I get paid for it.” He took a breath, seized hold of his resolve to give her the honesty she deserved, and met her eyes again. “Usually by the hour or by the day. I get paid to be good company. In bed, out of bed, whatever the client wants.” Seeing her jaw drop slightly, he added, “That’s my job. To be whatever the client wants.”

She looked stunned, confused, a little upset. “You mean you… Women pay you to have sex with them?”

“Actually,” he mumbled, “they pay Catherine.”

“Who’s Catherine?”

“She’s, um… I guess you could say she’s my boss.” He shrugged. “Whenever my cell phone rings, it’s her.”

“Calling you to…”

“To schedule me for an appointment.”

“An appointment.” Her voice was faint. “To… have sex? With other women?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes, I just spend time with them.”

“Spend time,” she repeated.

“Uh-huh.”

“Being good company.”

“Yes,” he said, lowering his gaze.

“And you get paid for this.”

“I do.” He wished this conversation could be finished now.

“Paid by Catherine.”

“Yes.”

“And they pay her,” Sara said. “They pay… to be with you.”

“With me. Or with someone like me.”

“Are you telling me…” Sara sounded as if she was sure she must be mistaken when she said, “Ryan, that sounds like prostitution.”

“Oh, no,” he said ironically. “It’s only prostitution if you get paid for sex. If you just get paid for your time…” He met her eyes, wincing at the dawning shock he now saw there. “Well, then it’s all strictly legal.”

“You just… get paid for your time?”

“That’s how it works.”

“So… I mean, if you don’t want to have sex…”

“It doesn’t matter what I want. It’s whatever the client wants.”

“But… if you don’t want sex, and you do it because someone’s paying you… Then, well, they are paying you to have sex, and that is prostitution.”

“Yeah.” She understood it now, all right. He could hear it in her voice, see it in her expression. “It is.”

“You’re telling me… You’re telling me you’re a prostitute.” When he didn’t respond, she prodded, “Ryan?”

“Yes. I’m a prostitute.” And he was discovering that telling her made him feel even worse than he had anticipated. For no particular reason, he added, “A very expensive one.”

“Expensive?” she repeated weakly.

“Oh, yeah.” He sank onto the couch and rubbed his brow. “I’m a pricey item. Top drawer. A first-class fuck.”

“Ryan!”

“It’s true, Sara.”

“Don’t talk about yourself like—”

“I usually say ‘escort,’ because that’s what Catherine taught me to say.” He had to be candid with her, no matter what it cost him. “But it’s just a nice way of saying that I’m a high-priced whore.”

“But what—”

“I work for an exclusive agency. You couldn’t even afford the  so-called membership fee that most people have to pay just to see my photos, never mind meet me.” If anything ever happened between the two of them after this, he didn’t want it to be because he’d glossed over the facts. “It costs a client a lot of money to have sex with me, and even more to spend the night with me. It’s not so cheap for someone to have me on her arm at dinner or a party, either.”

“Stop!” Sara was shaking her head. “What are you saying? What are you talking about?”

“You wanted to know what happened to me today?” He recalled her questions and how he’d tried to avoid answering them. “I spent most of the day in the lock-up.”

“The lock-up? What’s the l—”

“A holding cell. Awaiting arraignment.”

“You were in jail today? You’ve been arrested?”

“For the third time.” His chest hurt as he held her gaze. “I’ve got a rap sheet, Sara.”

“What?” She looked sick from this succession of shocks. “What were you arrested for?”

“Which time?”

“I… I…”

“Today I got up, walked Macy, bummed a cup of coffee from you, went to the gym…” He made himself tell her. It was wrong to keep hiding this from her. “And then I did a two-hour trick.”

“A tr…”

“We’re not supposed to call it that—”

“We?”

“The escorts who work for Catherine. But I have bad habits. You can take the boy off the streets, but you can never completely wipe the streets off the boy.”

She just stared at him, stunned and distressed.

Now that he had started, he couldn’t seem to stop himself. He felt compelled to strip everything, to be more naked with her than he’d been with anyone in years. “Anyhow, it was a two-hour trick, like I said. Easy work. A massage and sex. We finished early, I got dressed—”

“You had sex with another woman today?”

“Yes.” He held her gaze. “And two days before that, with someone else. And last week—”

“You’ve been…” She squeezed her eyes shut briefly, then said, “You’ve been sleeping with other women. All this time.”

“Yes.”

“All those times you said you were working…”

“I was working. Just not the kind of work I told you I did.”

“You’ve been lying to me?”

The betrayal in her voice cut into his heart, but he wouldn’t try to escape his punishment. “Yes. I’ve been lying to you. Ever since we met.”

*****


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REVIEW: Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick

REVIEW: Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick

Dear Ms. Resnick,

Cover image for Doppelgangster by Laura ResnickHas it ever been a long wait for the follow up book to “Disappearing Nightly!” Which I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about. When I read, and loved, it in late 2005, I was peeved that it would probably take a year to find out if Esther and Lopez would get together. Little did I know…So I was a happy camper when news of “Doppelgangster” reached me and even happier after I’d finished it and read that there should be at least two more books to look forward to in the series.

Esther Diamond, aspiring actress in New York City, finds a whole new set of Evil People up to no good in the five boroughs. After the show she was in closes, Esther returns to waiting tables at Bella Stella, a restaurant frequented by several members of the Mafia. When she witnesses a mob hit, even though she didn’t actually see anything – and isn’t that the excuse all would be witnesses tell the police? – she and Max Zadok, along with wise guy Lucky Battistuzzi, find themselves frantically racing to eliminate someone who’s clever, connected to magic, and trying to start a mob war in the Big Apple. Oh, and keep Detective Lopez, who’s just been transferred to the Organized Crime Control Bureau, from figuring out what the three of them are really up to.

While the plot, as a whole, is creepy enough to give me the same willies it does to Max, Esther and Lucky, it doesn’t exactly zip along despite the short length of time the action actually encompasses. First our three principles have to get a rough idea of what’s going on, then it all gets rehashed every time someone new has to be told about it and then the basic information must be honed and new insights discovered, usually through improbably circumstances, just when needed. As bored as Esther and Lucky got reading and researching in Max’s antique book collection, I was still more bored reading about them doing it.

There’s a lot of talking and more talking and still more talking that goes on in this book. And the sparkling dialogue that delighted me in the first book makes only sporadic appearances here. Without the A grade I gave to “Disappearing Nightly” and my anticipation for this book, I’m afraid I might have tossed in the towel before getting to the good parts here. The scattered “now why aren’t they clueing into the glaring warning signs” moments didn’t help either. It’s not that I expect this plot to make total sense, things come from seeming nowhere on a routine basis, but I expect the main characters, who’ve spent the whole book fixated on what they think the problem is, to recognize the problem when it shows up right in their faces.

I had also hoped for more romance between Esther and Lopez. They’re certainly willing and give it their best shots but I need more. And then the ending, while it does make sense, isn’t the reward I’d hoped for them for the whole book. However, I will continue to cross my fingers that you have more planned for them. And I’m also willing to overlook a lot of disappointment for Lopez’s last line in Chapter 25. Yes, it’s that line that boosts the total grade to B-.

~Jayne

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