It's a dark theme indeed. This novel explores how deeply a person can fall in the name of something good they believe in. It's a very interesting though twisted approach to a romance, but I've enjoyed it a lot.
Elizabeth has a crush on Hunter. She's a good student, but her family is not wealthy anymore and her mother is in and out of rehab. Hunter is a rich heir who wastes his days away with escorts, booze and dubious affairs. He barely looks at her, but one incident in a dark room is the first of several dangerously hot encounters between them.
Tragedy crosses their path and sends them neck-deep into murky waters. And they're drowning quickly. I was really taken with these characters' choices. It's disturbing in a compelling kind of way how they find themselves in such a dire situation. When a friend of Elizabeth's needs an impossible sum of money, she struggles with all her willpower to help him. And she takes this crazy risk of selling her virginity to the highest bidder through a notorious and popular brothel in Las Vegas. On the other hand, Hunter is a suspect in an investigation over the disappearance of an escort he used to frequent. He wants to evade jail, of course, but it's the fate of this girl that has him worried and trying to find out what really happened. Maybe help her if there's still time.
The author's style is open but she really delves into her characters' psychology. They both tell what they do and why from a first person perspective in alternate chapters. While I was reading, I craved Hunter's chapters because he was into very heavy stuff though reluctantly. I wanted to know why he did those things, how he felt about them, how he was going to get out of that horrible predicament. That's not to say I didn't like Elizabeth's story. Just the opposite. I think she showed an immense courage and resilience trying to aid her vulnerable friend.
I also felt that the author managed to convey many things in a clear, heartfelt but unobtrusive way. Determination, frustration, sensuality, guilt, pain and longing, all feelings and reactions are woven into the plot to make it real and palpable.
I loved how Elizabeth and Hunter hovered around each other without being able to be together, but painfully and slowly they got nearer as they fell deeper into their mistakes. It was scary thinking they wouldn't find a way to free themselves from the dark place they were in and finally be a couple.
Sometimes I thought Hunter was acting like a fool. He's made such a mess of things, that's why he keeps rejecting emotional intimacy with Elizabeth though he has a hard time resisting her. They have this tug-of-war going on that's really exciting but frustrating. Every time he tries to solve things, he digs a deeper grave. And every time he and Elizabeth get intimate, it's over too quickly and they never get to the ultimate goal. Argh, that killed me!
The relationship between Elizabeth and her friend is touching, though it seems to me that every parent in this book is just a menace. All in all, it was a good story, I was happy with the outcome.
A LOVE INC. NOVEL - BOOK 1
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.