I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and here it is!
Published April 13th 2013 by Barkley’s Books
Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this–one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.
Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.
When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.
Follow Elizabeth–code-named Scarlett–to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.
Ella James’ brilliant stand-alone is just the right kind of provocative. Hunter West charms you off your feet and in many parts leave you swooning. Scarlett, or Elizabeth DeVille, knows fully well how to play her trump card of innocence. Volleying between the point-of-views of the different characters keeps up the fast pace where the plot thickens
“I’d gotten my first glimpse of Elizabeth DeVille. She’d had her hair in a pony-tail that stuck up off the side of her head, and she’d been wearing short red shorts and a light blue tank top with a whale on it. “You like whales?” I’d asked her when I finished with the car. Her face had gone all soft and pretty, making me feel more like one-hundred-and-three than the twenty-three I was, and she’d shrugged. “Yeah, but not a lot more than any other animal. I just like saving things.”
Semi-professional poker player, and full-time playboy, Hunter West doesn’t commit to relationships. At Love Incorporated, the brothel in Vegas owned by his best friend, Marchant Radcliffe, Hunter pays for love as he prefers “no strings attached”.
“I think of him as part tiger. He’s languid to the point of appearing almost lazy, and yellow or green, those eyes are framed by ridiculous lashes, set in a strong face with prominent cheekbones, full lips, and a sensuous smile.”
Elizabeth finds him intriguing despite his reputation and like the preyed in the cat-and-mouse, she can’t stay away. Entangled in the suspenseful web of lies, she is victim to the scandalous politics surrounding the brothel. In Hunter, she begins to find a surprisingly sexy appeal.
“It’s kind of surprising, considering he spends most of his time in Vegas, playing poker (professionally, of all things), man-whoring, and tossing back his family’s infamous Louisiana bourbon.”
Sexual tension, laced with the deceitful plot that kept me at the edge of my seat, makes this novel a winner. Elizabeth’s retention of innocence in the face of a new kind of awakening strikes me as comedic…except the training she receives at Love Incorporated takes her to a whole new level.
“With the exception of Hunter West, who’s been my own personal porn since that fateful night Mom’s Porsche broke down, I don’t find that many men attractive. Maybe I am a lesbian, but I don’t think so.”
Whilst agreeing with many readers that due to the myriad of sub-plots and other characters I found this book confusing, it has nevertheless been an enjoyable read. Definitely looking forward to her sequels in the Love, Inc series!