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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Guilty Pleasure Schlock

Escorted - Claire Kent

One of the things I love best about the romance genre is that you can be reading along, thinking, "This is the schlocky-est premise ever; I can't believe how ridiculous this is," and yet you're still enjoying it. (Sometimes. There is guilty pleasure schlock, and then there is rolling-your-eyes-so-hard-it-hurts schlock.)  Escorted is good, guilty pleasure schlock. Lori is a hugely successful romance novelist who somehow managed to build a highly lucrative career (uh, huh, because writing is so very profitable) and reach her 27th year without losing her virginity. Ander (yeah, stupid name, I know) is the gorgeous, sophisticated, world-weary male prostitute she hires to relieve her of that unfortunate condition. As you might expect from the premise and the subgenre (erotica), sexy times ensue (lots of sexy times, but all pretty vanilla).


The sex scenes are really very clinical, distractingly so until I remembered that that was the point: Lori hires Ander to educate her, not to seduce. And upon reflection, the very clinical nature of the sex works well in the context of the romance plot (yes! Escorted has an actual plot, which is more than you can say for some erotica), because the gradual breakdown of Ander's professionalism and clinical "rules of engagement" cue the reader that theirs is no longer a purely business arrangement. (You, dear reader, will figure this out long before poor, slow Lori clues in.)


Speaking of poor, slow Lori, the entire book is told from her point of view, in the third person. I found this frustrating, because Lori is such an imperfect narrator in that there is much she doesn't know or understand, but especially because the story of a gigolo falling in love with a virgin is far more novel and interesting than that of virgin falling in love with the man who initiates her sexual awakening. While I was reading, I realized that a third-person narrative told entirely from the perspective of the heroine is relatively rare in romance. The only books I could recall that don't give us any glimpse into the hero's point of view are first-person narratives told from the heroine's perspective. I really missed Ander's point of view, and I believe the story would have been better if we'd had that insight, rather than just Lori's sometimes fumbling efforts to figure out what's going on in his head. (There are a lot of scenes where she'll notice a facial expression, a look in his eye, a quirk of his lips, and spend a great deal of time badgering him and/or obsessing in her head over what it means, often without reaching the "right" conclusion. A little bit of that would be fine, if it were followed by scenes from Ander's POV where the reader could see Lori's mistakes, but absent that, these scenes get repetitive and don't advance the plot well.)


All that said, the story of how their relationship evolves from a business arrangement between student and teacher to a love affair between equals is compelling and well worth the read.