Harlot by Victoria Dahl
Erotic Historical Western
Released: October 28, 2015
Reviewed by Mandi
Caleb and Jessica were deeply in love as young adults and had a blossoming future ahead of them. But Caleb wanted her to have a better life, and leaves for California gold. He promises her he will return, but a lot happens in the two years he is gone. Caleb can’t write very well, so after he receives letter after letter from Jess back home, he never writes back, knowing she remembers his promise to return one day. Eventually, her letters start to fade away.
Back home, Jess’s father has passed away, leaving her alone and in a lot of debt. She writes this all to Caleb, but is not sure if her letters are even making it out to him. She is set-up to hear that Caleb has found another woman in California, then she gets propositioned – one night having sex with a man and he will sell her a house for one dollar. Not knowing what to do with her father gone, a ton of debt and totally alone in the world, Jess accepts. But this deal has strings. While she gets the house, unknown to her, she owes back taxes on the property. This means, more working off this debt with the man who set her up to be a whore. All the while, Caleb eventually comes back to town, and learns the devastating news of what happened to Jess.
The word “whore” is a very impactful word in this book. When left with nothing in the world, Jess was offered what she thought would be one night of sex, for some freedom. But this backfires, as the man who gives her this deal, is quite shady. Jess fights her way away from him eventually, but she is left with a bad stigma in the town. People whisper about her. She isn’t welcome in anyone’s house. She is scared every night. While she does have two tenants that live with her and befriended her, she is miserable. And then she realizes Caleb is back in town
And now, less than six months after she’d sold her virginity, here he was, looking as if she was beneath contempt. And she was.
“Oh, God,” she whispered, then covered her mouth to quiet a cry that tore itself free from her chest. Oh, God. Caleb. Whatever he’d one in California, he was back now, and she couldn’t bear that he knew about her. He was furious, of course, but his eyes had looked so hurt. So unbelieving. Because of her.
Caleb is so, so upset that Jess not only didn’t wait for him to return, but that she turned to a life of prostitution. He is so angry, but can’t stay away from her. He offers her money for her services. Jess is very broke and accepts a lot of money for one week of service to him. He wants her to do everything she did to other men. There is some angry yet sad sex that follows. Caleb tries to reconcile his feelings for the Jess he knew before he left for California and the new, whore Jess he knows now. He expects her to be a completely different person and has a hard time dealing with his mixed feelings.But this is a romance book, and the sex is filled with emotions. Caleb and Jess deep down love each other and find their way back to one another.
I’d definitely label this as an erotic book, as the author explores the sexual dynamic between two people who love each other but have so much pain between them. I have to say though, I wasn’t that into the sex in this book. I’m not sure if I ever really connected that well with Caleb. I had much more empathy with Jess’s situation and her character in general. I liked her journey and how her story unfolded. You could really feel her desperation and fear for being left alone and trying to make the best decisions so she can just survive. Caleb – I never felt like rooting for him – he just didn’t do anything for me – so when it came to the sex scenes, I was left feeling more detached.
I like how it ends – I like who the bad guy turns out to be and I definitely felt a solid HEA for Jess and Caleb. But, the erotic part didn’t 100% work for me