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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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12 Comments

  1. JessP
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 16:13:19

    Yes, I loved this book. Great recommendation. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  2. Carrie G
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 17:12:13

    I really enjoyed this book! It’s very powerful. I second the recommendation.

    ReplyReply

  3. Jorrie Spencer
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 17:44:22

    I love this book too. Oh, Ryan.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jen
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 17:58:54

    This is one of my favorite romance novels. It’s smart, well written and believable. It really works the yearning factor for both characters. I’m a fan of this author’s urban fantasy novels the Esther Diamond series (written under Laura Resnick).

    ReplyReply

  5. jennifer
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 18:15:57

    I really enjoyed this book!

    ReplyReply

  6. JenM
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 19:07:54

    Yup, heroes who are prostitutes, and heroes who are virgins – either one will practically guarantee that I will buy the book. I loved this one. Enthusiastically recommended!

    ReplyReply

  7. Ducky
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 19:48:49

    I love this one too. It was the first romance I read with a male prostitute hero and I have had a soft spot for male prostitutes in romance since I read Fallen From Grace.

    Considering the profession of the hero there is actually very little sex in this romance – especially compared with what’s out there these days.

    ReplyReply

  8. cleo
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 12:41:19

    This reminds me that I read a Savage Love column (mildly nsfw) that undermined the male prostitute trope for me – apparently there are no (or very few) male escorts with only female clients, and no (or very few) escort services that specialize in straight male escorts (because, according to Dan, there’s not enough demand – men hire prostitutes and women don’t, usually).

    I’m not sure what it says about me that when I read this column, my first thought was, Wait – you mean that romance I read where the heroine hired a male escort and they fell in love was *unrealistic* ?!?

    ReplyReply

  9. elisa
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 13:48:37

    I purchased and read this yesterday after this review, as prostitute (well, this is the first one – any recommendations?) heroes and virgin heroes (I only know of a couple) also intrigue me! I LOVED it. It’s very well written and emotional, although I did like him more than her (she had hangups, which are fine, but she held onto them for a very long time). In fact, I loved it so much, I am now going thru Laura’s backlist. So far I’ve read A Wilder Name (I’m a fast reader and I had time yesterday), which is good but not insta-love like Fallen From Grace. Any recommendations on what I should read next? Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve read books years ago by Laura Resnick before, although I can’t remember them at all. I will glom the romances first, then try LR – Esther Diamond is a good place to start? in order?

    ReplyReply

  10. Estara
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 12:51:46

    Another, a little unrealistic (rather smooth acceptance) with very hot sex scenes, romance with a male prostitute and a normal woman (who has children) is Damaged Goods. It’s more of a wish-fulfillment novella.

    I can also recommend the suspense romance with a male stripper by Michelle Jerrott Albert, Absolute Trouble (rerelease). Her other former Avon books are fun to read, too.

    ReplyReply

  11. Jen
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 12:54:37

    @elisa:
    Hi Elisa, in terms of Laura Leone’s back list I really enjoyed “Fever Dreams”. As for Esther Diamond, you definitely need to read them in order as they build on each other. The romance storyline is secondary to mystical/mystery storyline. The books are also laugh out loud funny. Hope you enjoy.

    ReplyReply

  12. Caffey
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 01:42:25

    I know I must stand out here but this ended up being one of the not like/worse reads for me. I didn’t get the feel it was a “romance” and didn’t feel that HEA would or really did happen or last. So it didn’t connect for me. Probably just one of those books that the characters didn’t have me feeling anything about them. I probably should read again since I read years ago to see if maybe time changed my feelings because I usually don’t have any “worse” reads so it surprised me.

    ReplyReply

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