We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Contemporary
I had to sleep on it before gathering my thoughts.
This story won't be for everyone. Let me talk to those who might interested. Trigger Warnings: off page sexual assault, physical abuse. And if you're a reader who likes their hookers to only sleep with the main character while they're 'together', this isn't for you either. Because Micah has no issue with Angel/Aiden the prostitute continuing his trade while they non-date/fake date/hook-up. Angel continues hooking throughout the majority of the book.
Still with me?
"Love Starved" is an apt title. Twenty seven year old information security trainer Micah Geller is lonely. He's quiet, owns a success business, came out a little later in life and has never experienced love. He has an ideal of perfect love. His one time with a relationship was 2 years ago and he is still burned by that horrid affair. When his bossy best friend gives him a card of an escort( Angel) she and her husband used, Micah drunk emails him and asks for the boyfriend experience. But not for sex. He wants to be fooled by love, to actually have one night of being with someone who is attentive, gentlemanly and cares about him.
It's a tricky setup but Angel takes it. And gives something for Micah to think about. But their date sorta backfired. Micah's sister's friend sees them together and blabs to his sister. This snowballs into a fave trope of mine, FAKE BOYFRIENDS! Micah is too cowardly to tell people that he hired an escort and that Angel's not his boyfriend. So he pays Angel (extensively) for family time.
This story is very slow burn. Micah has a person who could fulfill any sexual fantasy he had right at his finger tips and the book doesn't go there. (There is sex, don't worry) But the slow relationship pace is what caught me. That and Micah's loneliness. He was such a sweet man and thoughtful.
Angel has a past and secrets. He tries to keep it professional but he is drawn to Micah as Micah is just as drawn to him. They become friends. It takes time for Angel to trust Micah but trust him he does. Micah pays for a night of sex, his pining becomes too much and then he learns something darker about his friend and Angel's real name, Aiden.
The plot is a slow twist and sometimes it gets too sweet or sometimes it might get too slow but I couldn't stop reading. Just when I thought I could predict what would happen next, I didn't. Points for the book.
Is the book realistic?
Some of the reactions and reasonings behind life choices or situations were a little out there. My biggest concern being Aiden's reasoning behind choosing to prostitute.
I highly doubt anyone wants to be a prostitute when growing up. There are several reasons why anyone becomes a prostitute but Angel/Aiden's is a shaky one. If it were for more a selfish mean, or if he was tricked or forced, or even if he came up with he really enjoyed sex. Anything other that especially when he barely gave any credence to even wanting contact with his 'reason'. And then the excuse Angel gives Micah that Angel is the only one to sacrifice himself, aka the martyr, for a reason that didn't deserve it.
And if maybe that angle was delved into deeper, instead of causally swept up in two sentences when Angel runs into his HEA and tries to throw it back on the very same reason he said couldn't do it in the first place?
I'm talking in circles just because I'm trying hard to not give away the twists and surprises.
The self sacrifice might work for some but I couldn't buy it in Angel. His background wasn't explored enough for me to see why he would even waste his time. Selling himself affected him deeply, so shouldn't the cause do exactly that as well?
But I liked Angel/Aiden. I wanted to knock his head and Micah's too a few times. They could be hardheaded and frustrating but solid story is solid. There's a blackmail angle I liked but I would have wished the resolution would have went further. I didn't care for the best friend. I wouldn't want to hang out with her. I kind of felt sorry for Micah. And Micah's family were like the perfect nuclear family. I can't buy no one not having the slightest problem with their son dating a prostitute.
Thank goodness this is fiction, huh?
Every time reality got a little hazy, Micah would do something that made me smile or I'd get a sweet line like this:
"...you deserve love fresh and pure like the first one, and I can't give it to you. All I can give you is messy and complicated. I'm scratched and dented and covered in scars, and so is my love. But it is there."
Because when it needed to be romantic, this definitely played it up.
A sweet, slow romantic story between twenty-somethings, both loners who needed love and found each other in an unconventional manner. It just took them some time to realize it.
Ends with a HEA. I'd read more from this author. :)