Title: With Or Without Him
Author: Barbara Elsborg
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary m/m, light BDSM, thriller/ mystery
Length: Novel (427 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Diverse cultural backgrounds, fast-paced writing, and and some really really mean badboys lend an interesting twist to this xxx-rated m/m version of “Pretty Woman”.
The Blurb: “The most dangerous refuge could be his lover’s arms. “
Everyone has at least one deep-seated fear. For Tyler, it’s being in debt. He’s so desperate to get out and stay out of it, he’ll do almost anything-including selling his body at Saturday night sex parties.
But he refuses to open his mind to anyone, especially the men paying to use him however they want. The only time he’s truly happy is during the week at college, when he can escape into his music.
The moment Haris sees Tyler playing piano at a concert, he falls hard, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the guy his. Even if it means-for the first time in his life-opening his wallet as wide and desperate as his heart.
20,000 to live with a good-looking guy for four months? How can Tyler resist the chance to ditch the sex party scene for good? But neither man realizes how much they’re risking. And when outside forces close in, ready to destroy them, the trickiest part about the next four months could be just surviving.
Warning: Contains a “for hire” bad boy with a filthy mouth, an awkward guy with a penchant for BDSM, a hypochondriac butler who won’t shut up, a dog called Alcide, and a lot of hot and dirty M/M sex.
Upon reading the blurb of this book, the movie “Pretty Woman” was of course the first thing that came into my mind. I went into this expecting something light, perhaps funny like the film had been. Icouldn’t have been more wrong, and having read other books by this author, I really should’ve known better.
Tyler is a music student who’d love nothing better than being able to live only for his music. But Tyler’s family history left him with a deep-seated fear of debts, and the amount of his student loans horrifies him. He decides to take a shortcut to deleverage by selling his body. However, as much as Tyler tries to tell himself it’s only a job, the whole prostitution business gets to him. In order to keep things in perspective, Tyler tries to detach himself from his rentboy persona, making it a rule to never get involved with anyone he meets on this basis. Then he meets Jeremy, a newcomer to the scene who is so painfully naive that he awakens Tyler’s long lost protective instincts and makes his resolve to never get involved crumble. And shortly after, Tyler meets Haris, who first saves him from a bad situation and then offers him a lot of money for exclusive services for four months. Haris, who might be the answer to all Tyler’s problems, and who Tyler finds himself increasingly attracted to despite himself.
Haris, a self-made bilionaire has stayed clear of relationships ever since a bad betrayal in his youth robbed him of the ability to trust, and left him with some other issues, one of which is a bad self-image outside of his professional success.The first time he lays eyes on Tyler–Haris attends a concert at Tyler’s university–he is intrigued even before Tyler starts playing the piano. Later, when he learns how Tyler pays his way through university, Haris believes that the only way Tyler would be interested in him were if he offered him money, and so he does, and Tyler accepts. Thus begins a relationship where both partners are attracted to each other right from the beginning–physically as well as emotionally–and yet constantly hurt each other through miscommunication, mistaken pride and lack of trust on both sides.
Since the story is told from an alternate POV we’re privy to both men’s thoughts, and I can’t even begin to say how frustrated I got with them thinking the right things but saying and doing the exact opposite. Over the course of the story, I’ve wanted to bang Tyler’s and Haris’s heads together more times than I can count. I’ve wanted to yell at them to talk to each other, to listen, but alas… However, the conflict between them not only arises from their failure to communicate.
Shady things from Haris’s past and problems that Tyler has with his former pimp go together to make a pretty good background plot with a kind of tension that had me biting my nails, and with breathtaking action scenes. This is a long book, and with all the frustrating misunderstandings between the two main characters it could’ve been tedious to read, but the mystery plot totally made up for that. Particularly the subplot around Haris’s origin and his past, which I found well-wrought, comprehensible and at times, heartbreakingly sad.
Well, and then there was Wilson, Haris’s manservant-chauffeur-housekeeper-all-around-go-to-man. Each good drama needs a clown, and Wilson filled that role impeccably. His hypochondriacism, his caustic wit, his wisdom were the perfect balance for Haris and Tyler’s drama and intensity, and he had some of the best lines.
This was an action-filled, fast paced read with lots of emotional drama, hot eroticism and just the right amount of depth to make it memorable. (and the ending was absolutely adorable!)
If that’s your deal and if you can put up with the frustration that comes from men doing what they apparently do best, namely not talking to each other, go for this book, you can’t go wrong. Recommended.
This title will be released on Nov. 19 by Samhain Publishing