Monica Brennerman is a freelance writer, suffering from agoraphobia. She hasn't been outside her house in quite some time and hasn't been on a date in even longer. Lonely and yearning for some male companionship, she checks out a website for male escorts. Surely she couldn't pay for a date, and dare she even think it... sex. Or could she? When she's drawn to a picture of a sandy-haired, blue-eyed man whose attractiveness doesn't overwhelm her like the others, Monica can't resist making an appointment with him, and their "date" turns out to be everything she'd wished for and more.
Ryan Hayes is a college student who is struggling to pay the rent and more importantly, the cost of keeping his beloved grandmother, who has Alzheimer's, in a decent nursing home. When a friend suggests that he try being a male escort, the idea doesn't appeal much, but with the generous salary being exactly what he needs, he decides to give it a try. Ryan is nervous about servicing his first client, but when a cute young woman answers the door, he thinks he may have hit the jackpot. He almost instantly feels at ease with her, and as the night progresses, he connects with Monica so well, he finds himself wishing that she'll call him back. Eventually she does - three more times - and each night they spend together is more intense and fulfilling than the last. Before long, Ryan knows he's fallen for his beautiful client, but how can he ever tell her the truth about his feelings, when their time together is nothing but a business arrangement?
What romance reader doesn't love Pretty Woman? I know I certainly do. I can't really explain why, but there's just something about the story of a prostitute who is "rescued" from that life to find her HEA. Well, Hired for Her Pleasure is kind of a reverse Pretty Woman. In this story, the hero is the one working as a male escort, and although he doesn't keep the job for long, it's long enough to meet the heroine, who happens to be his first client. She isn't exactly independently wealthy, but she manages to scrape together enough cash to hire him for a couple of nights of pure bliss, during which they fall head-over-heels for one another. It was a very appealing story that I enjoyed quite a bit.
Monica is a freelance writer who suffers from agoraphobia. She's had panic attacks since her teen years that escalated in her twenties until she could no longer leave her house. Longing for some male companionship, she goes online looking into male escorts. I like that she had reservations about hiring someone for a date and possibly sex, but I also understood when she finally did it that her actions were born out of loneliness. She has her family, but she desperately wants a man in her life, someone to hold and kiss and talk to, as well as with whom she can have mind-blowing sex. She finds all that and more with Ryan. He's definitely someone Monica could see herself dating for real, so she feels rather guilty about paying for his services. Still, she likes him so much, she can barely stand the idea of never seeing him again, so she calls him to come back a few more times. Once Monica realizes that Ryan cares for her as much as she cares for him but has disappeared from her life, I really liked how she tried to move heaven and earth to find him again and faced her fears to search for him.
Ryan is a sympathetic character who has very good reasons for becoming a male escort. He's juggling a busy life of college classes and working multiple jobs to pay the rent and more importantly to pay for a decent nursing home for his elderly grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer's. She raised him, and he feels he owes her the best care he can possibly provide. On the suggestion of a friend, he starts out working a phone sex job, then later transitions into the male escort position. Ryan is worried about who his first client is going to be and can't believe his luck when such a cute, sweet woman answers the door. He likes Monica from the moment they meet and no client he services after her measures up to the high standard she set. He soon realizes that each client is siphoning off a little piece of his soul and leaving him feeling dirtier each time, but with Monica it's totally different. Even though he quits the job, he still sees her a couple more times, leading her to believe he's still in the business.
Bonnie Dee is really good at conveying the characters' emotions. I truly felt a connection between Monica and Ryan from their first meeting. I liked how they were both a little nervous, but were able to put each other at ease. They spend a little time just talking, sharing dinner, and getting to know one another before things heat up in the bedroom. Both of them also genuinely want to get to know the other one on a deeper level, and are eager to see each other again when their "dates" end. Their love scenes are laced with emotion as each of them are very loving and giving toward the other. Monica and Ryan both desperately wish that theirs was a "normal" relationship but are too afraid to reveal their true feelings. He believes that she hired him for no-strings sex, and she believes that he views their time together as a business arrangement. I really like how the author handled the prostitution issue. I don't want to give too much away, but she brought everything full-circle, so that while it was an unconventional way for them to meet, it didn't necessarily cloud their future together.
The only thing that really bothered me about the story was a scene in which Monica and a secondary character take Ecstasy combined with alcohol. I initially thought that something bad was going to happen which Ryan would then rescue her from, but it didn't play out that way at all, which was a little disappointing. Unfortunately, it was used as a way for them to relax before engaging in a ménage à trois. Although the scene is written from Monica's POV and she still seemed coherent enough to make decisions, she was pretty inebriated. This made me a little uncomfortable about potentially dubious consent. Even if she wasn't high enough to be completely impaired, it seemed like it wouldn't have been as enjoyable or that she wouldn't have been able to remember the experience clearly afterward, which was kind of the point of doing it in the first place. I honestly didn't know what the author was trying to accomplish by including the use of an illegal drug in such a casual way. IMHO, it didn't really add anything to the story, and in fact, to my way of thinking, detracted from it. If it was meant only to relax Monica, I think the same thing could have been accomplished with a couple of drinks and would have been more socially acceptable.
Other than the casual drug use, the only other thing that kind of bugged me a bit were the typos. In many cases, a word was missing, and I had to pause for a moment to try to figure out what was meant. It was enough to be a little distracting and make me feel like the novella could have been edited better, but not enough to really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. With that being the case, I struggled a bit with how to rate Hired for Her Pleasure. I couldn't help giving it a few extras points for the palpable emotional connection, which is something that many romance authors nowadays seem to have difficulty with. I felt like that, combined with me enjoying all the rest of the story, aside from the ménage scene involving drugs, made it worthy of a little more than four stars, so I ended up only marking it down a half point. Based on my two experiences reading her work, I can say that Bonnie Dee is a talented author, and I'm very much looking forward to trying more of her books in the hopefully near future.
Note: This story contains explicit language and sexual content, including playacting a rape fantasy, anal sex, and a M/F/M ménage.
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