When he’s beaten and his hard-earned savings stolen, he accepts Megan’s offer of a place to stay for a while.
A passionate affair is the last thing either intends. The power dynamic is wrong, the gap in their ages is wrong, and yet sexual attraction crackles between them like a slow burning fuse. When it finally explodes the impossible relationship exposes Megan to criticism from all sides. Meanwhile, Sean’s inner turmoil reaches a boiling point of its own as he doubts his worth and wonders if he’s being used yet again.
Can real love grow from such a beginning or are Megan and Sean fooling themselves that an ill-fated love can last?
This is a previously published novel.
I’ll be super honest with y’all. There are a couple of things you’re going to need to be able to overlook if you want to enjoy this book. First of all, it’s gritty. The depiction of life on the streets for these kids is dark and sad and seems scarily realistic. Second of all, the hero is a street hustler. Most of his, um, clients are male. (Oral sex only, if that makes a difference to you.) And finally (and this one’s a biggie, folks), the hero is only 17.
I was able to overlook the age difference between the hero and heroine. He’s a world-weary 17 and she’s a somewhat sheltered 23. In real-world years, their ages are about equal in my mind. (Plus, I’m a grumpy old lady who thinks everyone under 30 is just a kid, so there’s that.) Yes, it’s technically illegal for a 23-year-old woman to have sex with a 17-year-old. But he was more than willing, no one got hurt, no one was emotionally scarred or taken advantage of, so, hey, I kept an open mind on that one.
The grittiness of the beginning was a little tougher to stomach. I hated to think of kids that young having to live like that. I kind of wanted Megan to take all of them home, which would’ve made for a MUCH different book. But, all things considered, it wasn’t as dark as it could’ve been, so the bleakness of the early chapters wasn’t too off-putting for me, either.
I had a harder time getting past the fact that the hero had oral sex with strange men for money. If I had been Megan, I probably would’ve wanted a full STD screening before engaging in any kind of sex with Sean (since condoms aren’t foolproof), but hey, maybe that’s just my paranoia talking.
But once I was able to get past all of that, what I was able to see was a beautifully written, emotional, angsty (but not TOO angsty) love story full of sexual tension and personal growth for all of the characters.
I liked Megan a lot. Did she make a hasty, impetuous, and potentially life-threatening decision when she invited a street hustler into her home? Yes. But that didn’t put her in the TSTL (too stupid to live) category for me. She had a great upbringing, and as a result, she believed in the inherent goodness (for lack of a better word) in people. She believed in Sean. She didn’t want to change him necessarily, but she did want to enable him to be whatever he wanted to be. I found her actions highly admirable. She wanted to help, and she put her money where her mouth was. Not many people would’ve done the same in similar circumstances.
"Sometimes...I think maybe you saved my life.
And while I liked Megan a lot, I LOVED Sean. He was the real star of the book for me. He’s been through so much, seen so much ugliness in his life, but he doesn’t ever wallow in negativity or self-pity. He struggles with his emotions, self-esteem, and anger control issues, but he overcomes them and works hard to better himself. I loved that even while he was on the streets, he was driven enough to start work on his GED. I also loved it that he accepted Megan’s help. He didn’t want charity and it stung his pride to accept it, but he did it, because it was the right thing to do. I’ve seen far too many heroes in romance land whose stupid male ego and pride kept them from accepting help from anyone. (Which is just ridiculous) He also never lapsed into the old life, even when his relationship with Megan hit the skids, which was great.
Their relationship isn’t easy. Pretty much everyone is against them. But it’s clear from early on that these two are meant for one another. And I won’t give anything away, but the ending of the book is PERFECTION.
So, long-story-short, if you’re an open-minded reader who can handle a little taboo romance, this one’s for you. Lovers of fluffy, plain vanilla romance can look elsewhere.
Full disclosure: We received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
Crushes it! No rehab needed. This one is clean and sober.
Other reading suggestions
I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything like this. With that in mind, I’d recommend checking out the Bonnie Dee backlist. And for a dark and twisty taboo romance about a prison escapee and his captive, try Prisoner by Annika Martin and Skye Warren.