My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
A week or so ago, I finished Debra Glass’s Lover for Ransom, an awesome Civil War era-set erotic historical romance. So I decided to try a few more of her books. Unsurprisingly I found myself more drawn toward anything set in the same time-frame, which Bought and Paid For is. It was a good read and I loved the author’s writing style which I found as amazing as I did before. Though things about the plot bugged me a little, what blew me away, again, was the H. Man but she knows how to write a hot, HOT H who presses all my right buttons or what?! Mmmmmm......
Young war widow Carrie Hatcher is in dire straits. Once she had everything a girl can hope for. Then, the war broke loose and now she has nothing but the house she lives it. It was already embarrassing that her husband, Amzi, went to war to fight for Yankees, then lost his life in a fever. To make it worse, her so-called relation with a Yankee has made her a pariah here where the Confederates rule even though it wasn’t her fault. Now with 2 servants, one of whom is old and gravely ill, Carrie can’t think of a way to survive. No one would give her a decent job but Jenny has been as close to a mother as she’d ever had, so Carrie isn’t just going to give up and let her die. Doctors refuse to come to treat a black servant; even if they did, Carrie doesn’t have the means to pay them. Then there were wounded soldiers who were brought in time and again and had to be taken care of. Carrie doesn’t have any means to support anyone anymore, so when another wounded soldier is brought in, she begins planning. She needs to survive, and she’s heard some widow around the block is making money by ‘entertaining’ officers at her home. Of course everyone knew she was prostituting herself and was making pretty good money. Carrie had never even thought about selling her body but desperate times call for desperate measures.
This is THE thing that bugged me all through the story, Carrie finding prostitution a lucrative business and the easiest way to earn money. The acceptance of it, and every time in the story the subject was brought up. Then again, she had no idea of the reality of that profession. She only cared about the money it’ll bring her and that she can feed and take care of Jenny and Sefronia. I tried my best to understand her side, but still, it didn’t seat well no matter what. It was sad, as well as unsettling.
Now, the wounded soldier in question, a colonel Wesley McEwen, didn’t think he’d survive the wound... at the least, save the arm that was injured and he sure did fight to keep it attached to his body, rather than an amputation! He had also noticed the dark angel amongst the pain and fever raging within him and couldn’t help calling on ‘Amelia...’; his long decease wife, cold in her grave alongside their stillborn baby girl. Carrie didn’t who Amelia was until she finds a picture of her, which leads her to believe that Amelia is his wife, well and alive, living far away. And this causes trouble in the next parts of the story.
As Wesley gradually comes around, he also pretty much gets that Carrie isn’t doing so well financially. It was glaringly obvious from everything around him, including the food. So he offers her payment in exchange of his boarding, as he was still recuperating in her house. But Carrie just can’t take it, and with the new ‘idea’ going thru her head, she tentatively gives him the signal that she’d be willing exchange her ‘favors’ for that money. It was a lot of gold coins and Carrie needed money badly. She also took it as a good sign that Wesley was tall, dark and ruggedly handsome to look at and she’s been insanely attracted to him since day one, even though he was all bruised and bloodied, with mud all over him. Money and good looks, what more can a prospective prostitute hope for in her first client, right?
Wesley felt the same about Carrie. She looks nothing like Amelia, who was all blonde and serene. Carrie’s is total opposite, in looks and temperament (she’s a bit of a wild cat ;) ) but he feels attracted to her too... maybe, he later realizes, much more than he was attracted to Amelia. While Amelia inspired to be worshipped on a pedestal, Carrie inspires utterly blind lust in him. And he wasn’t sure it was any good for them both, especially because he didn’t want Carrie to be falling pregnant and dying. Yep, Wesley held himself absolutely responsible for Amelia’s death in childbirth and the guilt ate him up in the past one year since she’d been gone. It was heartbreaking to say the least, as I found that once scene at the end of the story, when he goes to visit the gravesite that he promised he never would. He didn’t know if he’d survive the pain, but Wesley visited because he needed closure.
Back to the current dilemma. When Wesley refuses to become Carrie’s first client, she’s angry and taunts him by telling him she’s going in search of someone else who’s willing. There certainly isn’t a shortage of willing men around here! She was also quite stung, thinking he’s not attracted to her. By that time, she’d already seen Amelia’s likeness and thought her to be the most beautiful women she’d ever seen. Why would Wesley McEwen be attracted to someone so drab and dark like her when he has a wife like that at home? Oh Carrie, she had no idea how wrong she was!
But everything begins unraveling when Sefronia finds out a client and brings him in for a quick shag........ Wesley knew something was afoot and simply breaks the door open before anything happens. He was insanely jealous of that young soldier and sends him out of the house, and then, he tells Carrie that he’s willing to becomes her first client. He’d give her money but she has to do everything he asks for for one week. She can’t say ‘no’, since, as he begins taunting her now, it’s apparent she needs training in becoming a prostitute. That’s the deal, take it or leave it.
Carrie had no idea of the depth of Wesley’s lust, his unrivaled attraction to her. It was also something he wanted to do to forget the pain of losing Amelia. To imagine, if for a week, that she’s still with him; a wish that fails to come to fruition seeing his want for Carrie wasn’t anything like Amelia, yet he craved her like no other. Carrie thought she can handle it all, but soon she finds out just how sexually intense Wesley is, who doesn’t shy away from showing her exactly what he wants and how he wants it. How much he wants her and many times for that matter. Carrie finds out in the most pleasurable way that with her first husband she hadn’t even scratched the surface when it came to sex. Amzi increasingly looked like a fumbling young boy than a man in comparison to Wesley’s sensual onslaught. It seemed he couldn’t get enough of her. Though Carrie took offense when Wesley refuses to finish inside her at first, he explains to her that he’s not taking any chances, even if she thought she’s barren. This also, again, pains Carrie. Of course, he has a wife and she’s the one who’ll bear his children, not a whore like her, right?
It was clear as the daylight that Carrie should’ve been the last person to even attempt at selling her body because, in only a matter of days, she finds herself falling for him, hard, even if she tried her best not to acknowledge it. She didn’t know what Wesley felt... surely nothing but lust. Taking what he’s paid for fair and square. But beyond that...? Carrie didn’t know what to think but there was no denying her feelings.
Wesley on the other hand was in hell. He loved every moment he spent with Carrie, even their small quarrels. Every single time, those led to make up sex (hubba hubba!), one scene hotter than the next! I mean, they simply couldn’t keep their hands off of each other! Wesley was more than amazed, and a bit humbled, by Carrie’s uninhibited response to his touch. Even though they loved each-other, Amelia was never like this with him. And it was eating him out to know he has to leave when this week inevitably ends.
Can they let go of all of their confusions, misunderstanding and differences and finally acknowledge their true feelings? You’ll have to find out by reading the story. 4 stars.