Since I have so many books waiting to be reviewed, I have decided to write shorter reviews for books that are not part of scheduled blog tours. While the full book reviews supplemented by multi-media that I normally write are more comprehensive, they also take a long time to compile, sometimes up to 8 hours. So I’m adding mini reviews as another way that I can highlight more books and briefly share my thoughts with you.
Selling Scarlett (Love Inc. #1) by Ella James
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.
***RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 17+ DUE TO SEXUALITY AND MATURE LANGUAGE
I didn’t plan to read this book, but I’m glad I did. I didn’t think I would like the plot, but I was wrong. Stories centering on the unfettered world of the uber rich don’t usually appeal to me, and I wasn’t compelled to read about a professional gambler’s life of excess and a woman’s unconventional approach to get her V-card stamped.
I was interested in the plot of the second book in the series, Taming Cross, and thought I could read it as a standalone based on the book’s description on Amazon. A few pages into the book, I realized that I needed to backtrack and read the first book, Selling Scarlett, so I could fully understand Cross and the fallen man he has become. Technically, the book can stand alone, but I recommend starting the series at the beginning so that you can fully appreciate the complexity of the plot and the changes that Cross undergoes in his journey toward redemption.
Scarlett is a young woman who is kind and loyal to her friends. However, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around her idea to visit a brothel and sell her virginity so that she can use the money to help her friend, Cross. That just seems a bit extreme to me. Why can’t she just hold fundraisers? I think it’s unfortunate that people are in such a hurry to get rid of their virginity, and see it as a “problem” that is holding them back in their personal lives. She has the choice to wait and share herself with someone she loves; instead, she’s going to engage in an intimate act with a stranger she knows nothing about. I think it’s a regrettable action especially since she doesn’t even take the time to find out all of the details. She just wants to know when and where the auction is and how much money she can expect to get.
It also took me a while to warm up to Hunter and Elizabeth as a couple. I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. It was just established that they were attracted to each other. They don’t even know each other well enough to be considered acquaintances, but for a long time Elizabeth has had a huge crush on Hunter. Meanwhile, Hunter is being blackmailed by a porn star, Priscilla, and in order to protect his secrets, he engages in Priscilla’s masochistic sexual fantasies. Does he have to do this? I don’t think so. Hunter is tormented on so many levels that I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t think Priscilla is all he deserves. The antagonists in the book are shallow, one dimensional characters who are easy to despise, and their behavior, at times, stretches believability to its limits.
Overall, though, Selling Scarlett was an emotionally-gripping read with a richly developed protagonist and heroine who become entangled in an intricate plot involving deception, betrayal, and sexual objectification James does an excellent job in drawing out the sexual tension between Hunter and Elizabeth as the stakes keep rising and the secrets get darker.
Purchase on Amazon:
Published: April 13, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: ebook purchase from Amazon (Currently priced for $.99 )
Legalized prostitution is one issue brought to the forefront in Selling Scarlett. Scarlett spends time at the Love Inc. brothel as she prepares to auction off her virginity to the highest bidder. During her stay, she befriends some of the full-time escorts who love on the grounds. The owner of the establishment touts the benefits of working there–employees get to set their own prices, choose their clients, purchase stock in the company, and received health care benefits. Scarlett observes, “The place has a job-satisfaction rating comparable to Google.” It is hard for me to accept that someone can thrive in this line of work and not suffer some form of psychological damage. Here are articles for further consideration:
Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Outlaw Industry, Ex-Prostitutes Say.”
Chicago Tribune News: “Nevada’s Brothels Get Tough Look”
I welcome your comments and feedback about the book or the controversy over legalized prostitution.