My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
If you know me, you’ll know that gigolo heroes my guilty pleasures. I always want to love a gigolo book, though on the way, I do end up finding something that isn’t up to the mark. Escorted by Claire Kent was somewhat like that. I jumped when I read its blurb because the storyline really interested me. I mean, how many virgin+gigolo contemporary books are out there, right? But, sadly, I ended up with a very underwhelming book that had no story to speak of and no emotional bond between the characters... maybe until the very end. By then, I just lost any interest I initially might’ve had.
Lori is a Romance novelist, who is still a virgin. She had a crush on her childhood best buddy which went on too long time but he never saw her in that way. Later on, she just never took things beyond a little make out... reasons, I have no idea about. Possibly she just wanted to find ‘the right one’, which never happened. But Lori is a famous novelist, who is also rich enough to do something a little crazy, like hiring a gigolo to get rid of that nuisance aka her virginity. Now, you might ask why she, still at the age of 26, didn’t try to find a regular guy for that. I think she was more than embarrassed about her virginal state, and thought losing it to a gigolo will be the thing because she wouldn’t have to bother about his thoughts or her feelings about his thoughts. She’d learn how wrong she is pretty soon when she meets Ander. Ander has been referred to Lori through her cousin (the cousin was not a client). Lori has already heard raves about Ander’s skills, who comes highly recommended from his previous clients.
All was going well, up until I found that Ander is bald. Well it’s probable that he’s my first bald hero (generally authors don’t make their heroes bald) and I had a hard time contemplating a sexy, bald guy because I prefer a head full of hair, no matter what. Lol Anyway, I was glad that I got over that issue about Ander soon afterwards. Ander is cool, calm... and the author likes this word a lot: urbane. The ultimate lover a woman dreams about. He looks more than experienced for his years, for Ander can’t be more than a couple of years older than Lori. Their meeting goes a little awkward because Lori does come clean about her virginal state and Ander stays too distant for me to judge his reaction. Lori reserves rooms at a hotel for their first meeting but she’s really uncomfortable inside. Was she doing something weird?
Ander and Lori’s first sex scene was also awkward, so was most of their communication throughout the story. Why? I’ll try to explain why I felt that way as I go. I got that Lori was inexperienced, didn’t know about a lot of practical things regarding sex (which made me wonder how she was so good at the ‘sex scenes’ in her novels that got rave reviews from the readers!). Ander started out more of a teacher teaching his student, rather than a lover. Of course, they weren’t lovers, unless in the most literal of sense as there was nothing emotional in Lori’s lost of virginity. She also thinks this is the only time but that doesn’t seem the case. Lori can’t help making another schedule... and then another, and another. Ander seems to be available for her always. On those ‘schedules’, Lori learns some stuff about Ander too, like even though he’s teaching her about sex, he lets her take the lead, asking her what she wants, even when she wants him to climax etc. Later, we learn that stalling his climax is something Ander had to perfect to please his other clients who always demanded MORE from their gigolo. They’re paying him after all! I felt for the guy, this can’t be a good thing for anyone.
There isn’t a lot in this book storywise but Lori and Ander having sex, thus making it somewhat of a two-dimensional read. I don’t mind sex scenes; there’s nothing ‘too many’ for me in that regard if they’re good and I enjoy them. I certainly enjoyed most of the sex scenes in Escorted as Ander was a Sex God... almost. He knew what he’s about and left no doubt in Lori’s (or in my) mind. Hell, even I thought I learned a thing or two from him. :p But most of the story was great sex and then, scheduling for more... that’s all.
The story next jumps and they’re having sex for like 6 months now (?) and Lori is totally addicted to Ander’s sexy ways, more than she would like to admit. She’s crazy about him, though we still don’t know much about Ander. This was basically Lori’s side of the story. I felt cheated because Ander was the more interesting between the two. I wanted to get inside his head, know his feelings, his thoughts... anything worth knowing. But there was none, except for Lori’s description of Ander. TBH, Lori was too wishy-washy, someone without any tact whatsoever, with her words or her actions and she started grating on my nerves by the middle of the book. She was definitely not the person from whom I’d want to know about Ander. I even had a hard time thinking of her as a Romance novelist, a popular one at that, not only because I wasn’t very fond of her but also because, you guessed it, I never really got to see her doing anything beyond having sex with Ander.
This could’ve been avoided if the author gave us a little more meat into the story to make the story more interesting. Moreover, this was not a novella-length book so there were plenty of pages to explore other things. I wanted a little more of Lori’s life, i.e. insights into her romance novelist career, her family, friends, a little interactions etc. etc. Or in Ander’s life, like what happened to him, his relationship with his father etc. Exactly what pushed him to the edge, so much so that he couldn’t do anything else but becoming a gigolo? Sadly, there is no true clarification on that regard. We only hear that his father is a real mean a$$hole. Later, in one of Lori’s nosy investigation (you’ll find Lori interfering a lot into things Ander wanted to keep secret... she even brags about being nosy *eyeroll*), she finds out that Ander is the son of a local Millionaire or something. So WTF really happened?
Then there was the factor that Lori writes as Claire Kent, who is also, coincidentally Ander’s favorite Romance novelist! Ook. Mary Sue much? *snickers* I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at this, every time I read Lori talking about her penname or being worried that Ander might discover who she was after he told her he likes reading Romance novels, too.
I was getting distracted from the story about a little more than half way because I was not feeling the book and there was nothing special between Ander and Lori to keep me glued. But I didn’t want to DNF because Ander kept me entertained in his way. Now, I mentioned that their interactions were awkward, at least I found those to be so. First of all, Ander was still a stranger to me, so I couldn’t connect with his reactions to Lori, or something she had done... even in the sex they were having. He felt like a robot for a long while, who’s only going about his business. And that was another thing that bugged me, the talks of money and keeping things as ‘business’. I think the author lost it by trying to keep things a little too realistic. For me, it DID NOT WORK. At first, I liked that Lori wanted no illusion of romance, but she messes up big afterwards. It was a hypocritical relationship at its best, mainly on Lori’s side. She was addicted to sex with Ander, she liked talking to him, but she also wanted to keep this a secret, thinking this is unreal (as if Ander is not a person). She even started seeing another guy for a while, though he dumps her before there was any sex involved. Lori couldn’t get into sex with that guy because... yah she was addicted to Ander. The end result is more awkwardness, especially that scene where Lori finds Ander with one of his clients at a party where she was accompanying that other guy.
Before being dumped by that guy, Lori decides she can’t keep seeing Ander to pursue a ‘real’ relationship (well, good for her!) but she is not the type to stick to her words. After being dumped, she feels that she needs Ander’s sexy ways too much to end things, so she emails him back for new schedules. Ander, the poor love-struck guy (oh he was feeling something deeper no doubt, but had no idea how to convey his feeling... relationship with client is such a NO NO area for him!) gets back to the business. This time, their love making is a bit like ‘love making’, with a little bit more intensity than the previous sex scenes. But Lori is still... Lori; confused and keeps mucking thing up. I didn’t like the way she communicated with Ander, as I said, she had no tact with her words. Every time she let something idiotic slip past her mouth, she’d go ‘oopsie!’ in her mind (sometimes not even that), shrug and move on. How much of that can one take? I don’t know how Ander tolerated her because I wanted to slap her quite a few times!
The only thing, apart from the sex scenes, that I applauded was the fact that the author managed to not make me gag with the mentions of Ander’s previous clients. Then again, it must be that I still thought Ander to be too distant. But I understood Lori’s jealously because she knew she had deeper feelings for Ander. It was logical. If she never had that feeling, I’d slap her for sure for being a complete idiot. I also liked that Lori tried convincing Ander about giving up his profession, as it was more than obvious that this was having an unhealthy influence on him. But Ander had his own surprise coming about that part...
Finally, WTF was that ‘let’s now be friends’ thingy after they decided their feelings for each-other are deeper than that of a client-gigolo relationship? That whole part... geez. I don’t even know what to say because it was pretty lame... and awkward. They are ‘friends’ for a while (couple of months) and then decide to ‘date the right way’, without any sex. Oh Lori was mad for sex but Ander was not, because the poor babe was scared to death about a ‘normal’ relationship (he’s been a gigolo since his early 20s). Also, he didn’t think he was worthy enough. This got to me so bad and I, again, mourned the fact that I still didn’t know Ander well enough to know his inner pains and sufferings. He was not a guy forthcoming with his feelings, leaving me frustrated. For me, Ander was a complex character and I would’ve loved reading more about him rather than Lori’s ramblings and fumbling.
Then the fact remained, the story ended in HFN.
Overall, even though Escorted had some super sexy scenes and a hot H, it is not a book I would truly recommend for a good gigolo story. Please don’t get me wrong, it had a great plotline and possibilities that were not executed well enough for me. Ander would’ve gotten a sexy 5 star from me, had I known a little of who he really was. 3.5 stars.