Title: Liam for Hire
Author: A. Zukowski
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Release Date: August 23, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 280
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Liam Murphy has kicked his drug habit and now pays for the high living costs in London as an escort. His life is finally in balance. His only problem is that he obsesses about the minimum number of times he has to bend over to make ends meet. As long as he has his emotions under control, it’ll be fine. That’s what Liam keeps telling himself until he meets the young widower Alastair, also known as Ali, whose emerald eyes remind him of Ireland.
“I…I want us to have sex as though we’re making love.”
Making love? Jaysus. I scratch my head. “Okay. You mean more kisses and shit?”
Ali laughs. “And shit.” His face lights up and he looks about ten years younger. “Like cuddles.”
Featuring Liam from “The Boy Who Fell to Earth.” This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing: mature content, drug use, suicidal thoughts.
FYI: I have not read “The Boy Who Fell to Earth” where Liam is introduced, but felt this novel worked very well as a stand-alone.
Liam leaves his Irish farm at age 16 and ends up in London where he picks up a helluva drug addiction, lives on the streets and sells his body to make ends meet. At age 21, Liam is a survivor with few delusions about human nature as he struggles daily to not relapse. He works as an escort, striving to protect his emotions while earning enough to pay for his share of a shared bedsit.
And then he meets Ali (short for Alastair) – 40+, widowed, and newly come to terms with being gay. Ali wants a tutor in the ways of man sex, but wants to make love, not merely have sex. Ali is heartsick about his wife dying without knowing he is gay, but realizes that he did the absolute best he could in their relationship. He’s learned to cherish people and when he gives his heart, he gives his all.
Zukowski’s writing style took a while to really settle in for me, and at first it seems like more “telling” than “showing,” but there is a power in this writing that sets out basic details which slowly combine to form such powerful emotions. This creates such a strong sense of being really invested in the story and characters that some of the plot points – which may have seemed manufactured or sensational with another author – worked together beautifully here.
The sexual chemistry between the two men is sizzling hot but the emotional chemistry is equally as important as Liam and Ali find a deep and sustaining love. There are few tangents and subplots here, with most of the focus firmly on Ali and Liam, yet the pace never felt slow but was instead very compelling.
I loved the ending of this story and the redemption each man finds, not without some very big struggles along the way. For example, Ali didn’t make his love for Liam conditional, i.e. “stop escorting now that we’re together.” He doesn’t shame Liam and try to make the decision for him. I’m a newcomer to A. Zukowski and I really look forward to reading more by this author. “Liam for Hire” is a very touching read and I give it 4.5 stars.