The Fifth Favor

The Fifth Favor - Shelby Reed My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

OMG OMG OMG OMG I’m bowled out, blown away, swept away (whatever you say) by Adrian. OMG I love him. I adore him. I’m crazy about him. I want him. I’m going to cry now because he’s just a character in a book. I didn’t care that he’s a gigolo. I didn’t feel pissed reading about him with his clients, knowing how he regretted his past decisions, how crazy he was for Billie, our heroine. Shelby Reed has a simple yet very poignant style of writing, something I prefer personally. She stole my heart with Adrian and his story. Oh sweet, sexy babe. *daydreaming away*

Billie is a reporter of a tabloid called Illicit and this new assignment could be the life-changing, career-rising one for her yet! She’s very excited. At 33 and with personal heart breaks, Billie has nothing much to look forward now, except to make a good career. So when her editor and friend Nora asked her to interview a real life gigolo from a very extravagant, suave and very expensive escort agency, Billie couldn’t say no. Waiting in the lobby of Avalon for her interviewee, Billie thinks about what goes on in the walls of this nothing-out-of-the-ordinary townhouse. The proprietor, one Azure Elan, granted her time of the most sought after escort of the company named Adrian. Even Nora was interested in him, hinting she might’ve once availed herself of his services. The newspaper is paying the exorbitant fee of the hours she’s going to be interviewing the man, whose waiting list is too big, schedule is always full. Avalon has at least 20 escorts, all extremely attractive and young. They render services to all kinds of rich, wealthy and attractive woman, from their 20s to 50s, bringing their every fantasy to life. They range from bored rich housewives to doctors, politicians etc. All very discreetly of course. Azure is an attractive woman herself who, it seems, has no life in her pale blue eyes. Then a door opens, a man comes forward in his jogging dress and shoes. A very attractive man with dark hair and eyes, tall and muscular. When Azure pointed out that this is Adrian, Billie can’t believe her eyes! He can be anyone (though very attractive) on the street, a young collage student came in from jogging. No suave suit and lazy charm. But oh, the man is charming. He smiles at her and introduces himself. Billie gets a bit flabbergasted but she’s charmed nonetheless. She can totally see why women would choose him. He might not look like a so-called suave gigolo but his eyes, they’d simply burn a hole right through your body. His eyes tell you how worldly they are, that they’ve seen a lot, when it comes to bed play. I absolutely loved their interview. The attraction was palpable between them. The way Adrian kept looking at her, studying her. Billie might not be a shy virgin but she’d never been sexually adventurous. In fact she just ended a long-term relationship, a man she was hoping to marry, because of his infidelities. But Adrian, oh he’s so not good for her yet she can’t help but be more and more curious about him.

Honestly, ‘Adrian’ was just the façade for him to go through his days at Avalon. It wasn’t even his real name but something given by Azure. For now, I’ll call him Adrian. In the course of the story, the information that comes out about him, gosh, it was heart tugging and heart wrenching at the same time. Adrian comes from a good, decent family of Italian origins. Youngest of four sisters and the only brother, he might’ve been a little spoiled but that was out of love. He was brilliant too, got sports scholarships but one accident took that away from him. His best friend, whom we meet in the beginning, Luke or Lucien (his escort name) lived quite a wild life and was already working for Avalon 8 years ago. He’s the one who showed Adrian the way when he was struggling for money to continue his studies and this seemed the easiest way to make more than he could ever imagine. To have sex with all the attractive women of the world, then getting paid for it appealed to his 20 yrs old self. And Azure was very persuasive, making him believe this is some life he’ll have; sex, money and no responsibilities. What young man wants to throw away the chance? She ‘trained’ him, as she does every other man she ‘recruits’, to become this sophisticated, charming yet distant automaton, who can have sex with strangers and not feel anything for them. The beginning years were wild and he might’ve enjoyed it for it’s novelty but it began wearing thin at some point and now, he just goes to ‘work’, performs and comes back home; his lonely home for some peaceful time with Rudy, his dog. Though I didn’t at all condone his lifestyle choice, a very misguided one as it was/is, I couldn’t bring myself to hate Adrian. It’s because of the man within; the inherent goodness, the tenderness, even a few beguiling characteristics were still there inside him, which I saw every time he was with Billie. From the moment he saw her and an expert of ‘studying’ women or so to speak, he knew Billie is so different from the women he services. She wasn’t very beautiful; neither tall nor flashy. She wasn’t sophisticated in any way though she tried dressing the part as a reporter. There’s no denying she’s very smart and sweet yet there’s this sadness lurking behind those green eyes he loved from the first moment. She’s the type of woman who wants love and a relationship and when found, holds it with everything. So I knew why he was so attracted to her. Billie reminded me a lot about myself sometimes. Eh, sorry. Just saying!

As Billie was conducting the interview, Adrian agrees to show her his apartments in Avalon. But he doesn’t stay here. I loved when Adrian shows Billie the tub with jet shower, it gave me shivers. It was so well-written and Billie was feeling it down southward... Oh it was sexy. But the man won me over in the first scene, on their meeting. Adrian, so cool and calm, has a great sense of humor and can appreciate it. Azure warned Billie that he will talk about anything in Avalon as he has no shame but Adrian won’t talk about his personal life and might throw her out if she pushes hard. Billie takes a chance. Adrian tells her a lot of things, unabashedly of course. Like me, Billie is convinced that this man is one hell of a sex God. He knows, understands and reads women like the back of his palm. No wonder women pay exorbitant price to have sex with him! But after the bathtub scene and a dance with Adrian because she asked him about things he does for his clients, Billie’s amazed by his gentleness. So she asks to see him another day. It would be hard, the fees and so on but somehow Adrian gives her his personal number in Avalon to reach him, in return of a favor, which he’ll ask for later on. This follows a sexy scene with Adrian alone, fantasizing about Billie... me going all w... Hell! *blushes*

In the meantime, a very broken and abused Lucien aka Luke comes to Adrian’s home. Adrian is scared that his best friend has no hope of returning to a normal life, ironical because the hope of a normal life for them diminished the moment they all agreed to work in Avalon. It’s a world within the real world, where no reality touches you. You don’t have a normal life or relationship, your family doesn’t know what you really do (neither Adrian nor Luke’s family know anything). Avalon’s one of many codes is that you can’t have a romantic relationship outside Avalon. Still, Adrian tried that once but when the girl learned of his ‘job’, she couldn’t take it. Also Adrian was clumsy in his actions, preferring Avalon over a relationship. He now knows how f*cked up his life is at this point, with no chance of ever seeing it as ‘real’, ever, it seems. But this reporter, Billie, makes him think about life again. She makes him yearn, arouses him to the point that even though in his job, he holds back his climaxes to perform well (god, no idea how he managed that, sometimes having 3/4 clients in one night), thinking of Billie made him lose control with one client. No, I didn’t like reading it but I felt for him, I really really did.

A broken and lost Luke who had ‘feelings’ for Adrian, something he never returned, commits suicide. Adrian always cared for Luke, he was the only thing real in his surreal existence but even he didn’t see this coming. Adrian comes home to find his friend dead, jumping down from his balcony and police all over the place. He knew trouble was coming and it proved to be true because his alibi, one regular customer, a female politician he was with that night out and out denied even knowing Avalon, let alone Adrian (wow, but I wanted to kill the woman!). The record of her being there was erased. Adrian was pissed and knew the mess he was in with the fact that as Luke’s identity is now out in the light, it might reveal his as well. And the trouble it would cause, the blow it’d deal to his and Luke’s family, Adrian can’t even think about it! Meanwhile, he meets Billie once again but this time in a public place, on his free day. Billy wasn’t still happy with the way the interview was going mostly because she was insatiably curious about Adrian and attracted no doubt. At this point, it had nothing to do with the actual interview but her feelings for Adrian. Adrian agrees to meet her again but in Avalon. He tells her to keep quite about this visit. But then the story of Luke’s suicide comes out and Nora, her nosy editor (whom I disliked from the get-go) asks Billie to put a halt to the interview, but look into the suicide thing and do an exposé on Avalon. Billie denies it because by now, she started caring for Adrian. She tries to contact with him but Avalon tells her he has taken a vacation. It was because Azure knew trouble’s brewing in Avalon because of Luke’s death, so she asked Adrian to take a break.

One day, Billie sees Adrian in a general store. I loved this scene, how she followed him around, entranced, without his knowledge. Then the reporter in her takes over. She follows him to his condominium. This is where she learns his surname but still, not the first name. He never gave any of those to her. But Adrian finds her out and takes her to his apartment. They talk; the attraction was still there, burning the surrounding. Adrian talks about his favor and returns it by doing something for her. Billie went crazy and a bit more than vulnerable when she knew to what extent Adrian can read her. They don’t go all the way though. But boy, this book had some hot hot fondling. Next, Adrian asks her to accompany him to an open air Mozart concert. I loved this scene too, wow, but it was steamy. The things they do to each-other and Adrian’s losing control again. *fans herself* For their third favor, Adrian takes Billie to his sister’s house, who lives close by but he doesn’t see her often. On their way, he sees a car coming out of a townhouse with a diplomat’s wife. Adrian muses to himself that he can’t go anywhere anymore without reminders of the choices he made in life. The house his sister lives is the one he grew up in. Adrian needed someone like Billie to convince her sister of the lie that his life is going great. Billie learns a lot about Adrian and his family. From his Italian origin, that he speaks fluent Italian to his vivacious sister with her husband and children; a happy loving family just like the one he himself came from. But she still doesn’t know his real name. Everyone calls him Zio, or uncle in Italian. His sister, Rosalie, approves of her and asks her a few things about his life, which Billie somehow muddles through. Later Adrian takes to the back woods and his own secret place as a child. In the age old hammock, Adrian returns his own favor to Billie. By now Billie knows she’s in trouble when it comes to this man. Oh, can you tell; so was I!

Adrian returns to his work and recruits a new lawyer, payment with his service in Avalon. Though the police aren’t harassing him anymore, he knows he’s still not out of danger. Nora asks Billie to start new assignment. Billie still doesn’t give up on the article on Adrian so she keeps writing something, with her own experiences, the words for her own eyes only. They talk at night, hot and steamy phone sex follows. Oh but it was done extremely well and Adrian was so sexy, omigawd! He wasn’t an extreme dirty talker, sometimes very polite while talking to Billie, calling her ‘Ms. Cort’ before their relationship deepened but there was something about him I couldn’t, at all, deny. Adrian knew what he’s doing with Billie is only going to bring more heart break for her and he feels guilty because there’s no future of this ‘relationship’. Billie, after their meetings, keep thinking he’d take it to the next level, not only because she was already insane about him but also, that she cared very deeply about him and she wanted it, despite knowing everything. Adrian oozed yeaning and longing but tried his best to control his emotions, all in vain. When it comes to Billie he can’t do a damned thing right. He gets so scared sometimes that he wants his old self back, the automaton who worked in Avalon without any remorse because before now, there was no one to show him how much he was missing on his life. Billie does all that and more to him.

In her own fumbling way, she’d reminded him he was just a man, fallible, needful, a member of the supremely imperfect human race…and shamefully undeserving of what she had to offer.
Looking at Billie, touching her, tasting her, had filled him with a wanting fiercer than any he’d known. For the first time, he was faced with something he couldn’t truly have, because of what he’d become.

So Adrian tries breaking this off too but not without hurting Billie in the process. Adrian doesn’t like it but all he sees is bleakness when he thinks of his life. Azure learns from one of the employees about Adrian going out with someone. She guesses it’s the reporter though doesn’t believe it. Here, it’s revealed that she has the suicide note Luke sent from Adrian’s home to her. She decides she won’t let anyone know about it yet because a little exchange of money bought her some times to control Adrian. Oh, she’s a cold, manipulative b*tch who thinks all the boys in Avalon are her exclusive property. In the meantime, Adrian tries to go through his work but he can’t forget Billie or how they hanged up the phone the last time they talked. He couldn’t perform with one of his regular clients which makes Azure unhappy. Adrian knew about stepping on feelings, some of his clients he had to block because they got too ‘attached’ to him yet he feels guilty of hurting Billie like no other. Azure threatens him that she’ll fire him unless he breaks it off with her. Then the b*tch invites Billie to an annual party, hosted for clients and escorts altogether, mostly to remind her what or who Adrian was. Billie didn’t want to attend but attends nonetheless only to see him. She finds him with a client of course, not doing anything just attending the party. It was such an emotional scene! Azure already hooked her up with another companion. Adrian misunderstood and kisses the client. Billy is hurt and runs out of the building. Even knowing it’s going to cost him his job, Adrian calls out her name, catches up with her and takes her to a shadowed alleyway. Heated words are exchanged, so are kissed and touches, oh they’re simply wild for each-other and already in love, even though both denied to see it. After some steamy fondling, Adrian asks her to come to Avalon as a ‘client’ and give into her fantasies. Against her better judgement, Billie does that but she just can’t make love to him this way. And they don’t as she goes out the door, exchanging more words with Adrian. For her favor, Adrian asks her what she does want if not sex. She says she wants his real name and Adrian tells her- Christopher. Azure fires him but shows him Luke’s letter before Chris leaves. By now I was very frustrated. I mean lord, I wanted them to have sex. I really did. But sadly, the book didn’t have enough to make me a happy kitten. Oh Chris *sigh*

They don’t see each-other for sometimes again, thinking it’s truly over now. Chris’s sister, Rosalie calls Billie to check up on him since it’s been quite sometimes that he didn’t contact the family. Billie couldn’t hold back her longing heart so she goes to his condominium. It was a mess inside, so was Chris. Nothing of the suave man she saw in Avalon remained in him. Billie takes care of him, tucks him in bed and sleeps in his arm. I really liked the way they communicated, even with all these emotional turmoil. They did understand each-other to some primal level. Next day, Billie is late for work as she overslept only to find her nosy editor has found out about Adrian or Chris’s article and has already sent it to press. Billy goes nuts, thinking how very exposed Chris would be by this. I was at this point a bit pissed, how could she be so clumsy? It was no secret how nosy her editor was. Anyway, the only good thing she learns from Nora is that she never slept with Adrian. Back to Chris’s place, Billie is shaken by the impending doom. The man was so so happy to see her, it melted my heart. But Chris was equally apprehensive by her stiff body language. And then they make love in a frenzy. I was quite disappointed. No don’t get me wrong, it was but I didn’t like the Billie hid this monumental truth from him. It made me uneasy. Also, afterwards, how Chris turned cold and they hurt each-other again... mostly Chris hurting Billie. It got frustrating and heart wrenching at the same time. Chris visits Rosalie and tells her everything, writes to Luke’s family even. The article becomes a huge hit for Illicit. Knowing she’ll never see him again, Billie decides to move only to be surprised by the sexy, handsome Mr. Antoli once more...

Oh boy, I didn’t want this book to end. I wanted Chris all to myself. Grrr! It was also great to see Billie’s transformation as a sexy woman herself. Then again, with Chris worshipping her, she’s bound to transform. I can’t thank my friend Dinjolina enough for unwittingly leading me to this book. Thank you honeybunch! I think I’m going to continue sniffing because I want Chris... *sniffs*

A huge 5 star!

Yah well, couldn’t seem to get him outta my mind while reading the book. This is my Adrian aka Chris, have a glance but at your own discretion! A fitting tribute IMO, to two sexy shower scenes, with Chris alone... *sigh*

holy f*ck yes yes yes!