Title: A Model Escort
Author: Amanda Meuwissen
Publisher: Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Page Count: 184
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
What’s the value of love?
Shy data scientist Owen Quinn is brilliant at predictive models but clueless at romance. Fortunately, a new career allows him to start over hundreds of miles from the ex he would rather forget. But the opportunity might go to waste since this isn’t the kind of problem he knows how to solve. The truth is, he’s terrible at making the first move and wishes a connection didn’t have to revolve around sex.
Cal Mercer works for the Nick of Time Escort Service. He’s picky about his clients and has never accepted a regular who is looking for companionship over sex—but can the right client change his mind? And can real feelings develop while money is changing hands? Owen and Cal might get to the root of their true feelings… if their pasts don’t interfere.
The story starts promisingly enough. On one hand there’s handsome and cultivated Cal, a fortyish escort and a loner with no wish to connect with his emotional life. On the other hand, we have twenty-something Owen, brilliant data scientist with a slight daddy complex, who’s just managed to end an unwholesome relationship with an abusive/manipulative ex. When Owen arrives in fictional Atlas City to start a new career and a new life, he hires Cal for a cosy evening of snuggling. This first encounter comes as a welcome surprise for both of them: Owen, endearingly naive and kind, doesn’t treat Cal like just a piece of meat. Cal for his part shows Owen how to make the best of his personal assets. As expected, one thing leads to another, Owen falling for Cal, Cal falling for Owen, and the plot unravels at a nice and steady pace till the happily ever after.
Promising indeed. Alas, the book doesn’t live up to its full potential, despite the lovely character developments of Owen and Cal, both of whom I liked on the spot, and despite the obvious chemistry between them. There are three points I think should and could have been avoided. First, in parts there’s a bit too much telling going on when I would have preferred to be shown. Some emotions and thought processes therefore felt a bit lifeless. Second, some parts are a tad overwritten, others a bit too colloquial. But the last point is the most disconcerting one because it touches the plausibility of the whole story. How many escorts (or prostitutes, for that matter, because that’s what Cal basically is—no too much escorting in his job) really choose their job not because they need to earn a living but because they like it? How many of them only deal with handsome and hot clients? Where in real life does one encounter so many genuinely nice, kind, warm-hearted people going out of their way to help and support you, be they mayors, CEOs, co-workers? Even the thug who tries to rob Owen and Cal at gun-point is essentially a nice guy. Atlas City and its inhabitants seem to have sprung out of a fairy tale. In several scenes there’s potential for conflict and therefore for gripping developments, but as soon as one conflict springs up, an immediate solution is found that makes the whole thing feel anticlimactic.
On the positive side, the middle part where Owen and Cal get to know each other little by little is sweet and had me hooked. And something that could strike as being odd in a novel about a hooker gets a huge thumps-up from me: there’s no sex involved between Owen and Cal almost until the end! If you expect steaminess, there’s none. But Amanda Meuwissen shows that gays don’t necessarily shag first and build an emotional bond afterwards, almost as an afterthought, as popular belief would have it. This and the nice character development of both protagonists made this an overall enjoyable read despite the quibbles mentioned above.