Dear Ms. Burkhart:
You wrote the Dear Author reviewers a very cute little note when you sent your book and I have a secret obsession with male prostitute stories, so I thought I’d try this one. I’m glad I did. It was a gentle, sweet story and you have a gift for writing great characters and funny dialogue.
Gabe (female) is in her late 20s but has a No Commitments policy. But she also doesn’t do casual sex. So she’s completely alone. She also moved 2 hours away from her only family, her sister, Mike (yes the names confused the heck out of me every time I sat down to read). Mike is worried about her baby sister, so she buys a male prostitute for Gabe for her birthday. “Blade” (Jack) Savage shows up on Gabe’s doorstep. Gabe politely refuses. When he won’t go away (his two hours are bought and paid for, after all), she sets him to making cookies with her. He eventually seduces her, surprises himself by asking to spend the night, and then leaves the next morning.
She basically forgets about the encounter. But he doesn’t. It makes him realize he doesn’t actually have much of a life. He cancels all his client appointments, starts school again for his master’s degree…and calls back Mike to get Gabe’s number. Mike gives it to him because she think he can probably get through to her, or at least open her up enough so she can have a “real” relationship with another person. Gabe accepts Jack’s return to her life because he represents no commitment. No one tells her that he quit, even though he tells everyone else. Because they’re all too afraid that she’ll turn rabbit and run if she finds out he’s committed to her.
So it’s kind of a reverse story: she’s all about no commitment (although she’s not a ‘ho about it like all the man-hos in historical romance), he’s very much into her and wants a commitment but is afraid of frightening her off. So that was refreshing. What was a little off is that we only found out WHY Gabe was so pathological about commitment right at the very very end of the story, when Jack did. Having a little hint as a reader before that would have been nice. In my opinion.
The characters were brilliantly drawn. There’s Gabe and Mike and Jack and various friends of each that were all distinct, interesting characters who were all invested in making the relationship work, which is endearing. Everyone just wants Jack and Gabe to be happy. The dialogue is natural and amusing:
"Gabe, this is the best sandwich in the history of the world."
Of course, with his mouth full, he doubted she understood a word. He didn't care. His stomach roared to life, and he dug in with a will.
She watched with a crooked grin, picking at her much smaller concoction and offering him chips and a tall glass of iced tea.
"Thank you for mowing. I don't mind doing it myself, but it's nice to not have it hanging over my head during trial time."
He nodded, his mouth too full to comment.
"And it was kinda fun to watch the Old Biddy Patrol drool."
Grinning, he nodded again and tried to swallow.
"Can you eat faster without choking?"
He raised an eyebrow.
"Because those wet jeans and all of that sweat is turning me on so bad I can barely think straight."
He coughed and put down his sandwich, reaching for his tea. Swallowing hard, he cleared his mouth enough to swig down half the glass and wash away the lump. Gasping from the near-choking and eyes watering from immediate brain freeze, he tried to grin.
"I can eat later."
Although as the characters banter with each other there’s a little too much of the “They laughed uproariously until tears ran from their eyes” type of thing that new writers think is “comedy.” But there’s little enough of it and the comedy is solid in other places that it’s easy to ignore.
The sex…is mostly closed-door, actually. Not all of it, but it’s not at all the point of the story, probably precisely because Jack is a prostitute. And the book is mostly female-centered. All the angst and heartache and change is on Gabe’s side, not on Jack’s. He does all his changing early on.
But it’s a fun, light read during which I laughed out and you can’t ask for much more than that.