Review: The Harlot

This is under the AFTER HOURS category.
After Hours are reviews of books that are for ADULTS ONLY. This is not a category for readers below 18 years old.

 

Title: The Harlot
Series: Taskill Witches, #1
Author: Saskia Walker
Publisher: HQN (Harlequin)
Genre: Historical Romance – Paranormal, Erotica

It is a dark era, and a lusty lass will do what she must to survive. Even if it means bartering flesh for a palmful of coins…Forced to watch her mother burn at the stake as a witch, Jessie Taskill was separated from her siblings in the aftermath. Jessie is similarly gifted, ripe with a powerful magic that must stay hidden. When she’s accused by a rival of witchcraft, Jessie finds herself behind prison walls, awaiting certain death with a roguish priest unlike any man of the cloth she has known.

In reality, Gregor Ramsay is as far from holy as the devil himself, but his promise of freedom in return for her services may be her salvation. Locked into a dubious agreement, Jessie resents his plan to have her seduce and ruin his lifelong enemy. Especially when Gregor’s lust for her is so compelling. She may agree to be his pawn…even as she plots to use him just as he is using her.

Available at:
Amazon – Canada: Paperback, Kindle
Amazon – US: Kindle

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One, Scene One

Dundee, 1715

         The first thing that Gregor Ramsay noticed about The Harlot was her delectable buttocks. It was hard to avoid the sight, revealed as it was while she engaged in a ferocious catfight with another wench on the sawdust-strewn floor of a squalid Dundee inn. It was not, however, the sight of her attractive rump that made him consider her the ideal accomplice for his task. That notion came later on in the course of events, but the vision certainly caught his attention, forbidding him to walk away.
         Gregor had sought only a swift draft of ale, to begin with. The noise that emerged from the inn he entered indicated trouble was afoot and he almost turned away, but when he caught sight of that view — that perfectly rounded womanly cushion with its enticing cleft — he pressed on through the raucous crowd.
         “Stand clear,” someone shouted, as the two women rolled across the floor, intent on tearing viscously at one another, skirts flying, bodices torn, breasts all but completely bared to the onlookers.
         Coins were being passed to a man who stood on the far side, the crowd laying wagers on which woman would win. Meanwhile, on both sides of the challenge, insults were flying. The wench with the attractive arse seemed to relish the fight, taunting her opponent.
         “Scrawny hoor,” she accused, tossing back her unruly black hair. “A man likes a woman he can hold on to.” She slapped her hip and chortled.
         The redhead hissed. She was much less to Gregor’s liking.
         His attention kept roaming back to the raven-haired woman, who was determined to get her opponent on her back and keep her there. Once she had done that, she pinned the redhead down with the weight of her body, legs kicking. Then she rested her knees either side of the redhead’s thighs, bent over her opponent and bit her shoulder. As she did, her skirt and petticoats flew up again. The sight of her bared thighs and bottom — as well as her plump mound and dewy cleft — brought another cheer from the onlookers. It was indeed an enticing sight, and it made Gregor wonder what it might be like to plow her furrow, to ease his cock into that alluring niche. One glance at the men gathered around the scene assured him that he was not alone in that thought. They gaped and lathered at the view.
         “What is the quarrel about?” Gregor enquired of a nearby patron, a toothless man in a dirty shirt and torn breeches.
         “Eliza,” he said, nodding at the redhead, “accused Jessie,” he pointed at the raven-haired woman, “of luring a customer from her. Jessie, oh, she’s a wild one,” he lowered his voice, “they call her The Harlot of Dundee.” He gave a significant nod and paused before he continued with his explanation. “She said she would fight Eliza for the man’s custom.”
         “The Harlot of Dundee,” Gregor repeated, “and what has she done to deserve such a grand title?”
         The man chortled. “‘Tis on account of her spirit. She’s not one for just lying there and collecting the coin, if you understand my meaning.”
         A spirited wench, how intriguing. Perhaps it was luck that had brought him to this particular establishment? Here by the harbor the inns were full to heaving, and he could easily have gone elsewhere. His trip to Dundee had been necessary in order to see off his ship, the Libertas, without him. A strange task and one he had not done before. The reason he had stayed behind was to exact revenge on an old enemy. The nature of the task ahead and the absence of his familiar world made him terse, and ale was needed before he crossed the Tay back into Fife.
         Now he was glad he had paused, for the spectacle was most entertaining. The Harlot was fierce in her attack, with apparently no regard to her appearance. Straddling her victim’s thighs, she locked one hand around the other woman’s bared nipple, and with the other she poked and tickled her puss through her skirts, prodding at her between her thighs.
         Gesturing with her hand as if it were a cock, she moved her hips back and forth, a lewd reference to fucking the woman who she had on her back. She was shameless. Gregor’s attention was already loosely harnessed, and it was then that an idea began to form at the back of his mind. A whore with a winning smile might be a pretty lure in his game. His enemy never could resist shapely lass, and was rumored to have bedded half the local lassies. Perhaps when the whore’s tousle was over, he would approach her with a proposition.
         The crowd roared their approval, and the woman on her back turned vicious, scrabbling with claw-like hands at her opponent. The Harlot dipped and swayed, avoiding the redhead’s attack rather adeptly.
         “Who is taking coins?” Gregor put his hand into his pocket as if readying to place a wager. He was merely curious as to who held the power here. Life had taught him that was the key to any situation. In his opinion, the darker haired woman, Jessie — The Harlot, as he now knew her to be called — would win.
         “Ranald Sweeney holds the purse.” The patron gestured across the crowded room as he slurred his reply.
         Ranald Sweeney was a weasel-faced man who did not inspire Gregor’s trust. He had a dirty grin on his face and a palm full of coins. While he was watching the two women, he exchanged comments with a man beside him. Gregor scanned them both quickly. The pimp was dirty and smug. The other man — who he assumed to be the man whose custom the women were fighting over — wore a heavy powdered wig. His coat was embroidered silk and his necktie made of the finest cotton. Despite his ostentatious garb, he seemed quite at ease in the wharf side inn. He was a wealthy man who liked to step alongside the gutter when the urge took him. If he were in the same position, Gregor reflected, he would be less obvious about his wealth. Some men were not as circumspect, and reveled in such displays.
         Gregor made his way through the rabble towards the counter, where his presence barely distracted the landlord from the show.
         “Ale,” he requested, and pushed a coin across the wooden counter.
         Without taking his eyes off the scrabbling women, the landlord nodded and sloshed ale from a jug into a tankard.
         It was a rough brew and Gregor coughed out the gritty residue in his mouth after it had slaked his thirst. A squeal issued behind him and a body butted up against his side. Shoving the tankard back across the counter, he stared into the eyes of the woman who had careered his way. It was Jessie, the raven-haired woman who had caught his eye.

(c) Harlequin enterprises

 

My Review:

The Harlot wasn’t my cup of tea. Although I love reading paranormal and romance that are a little bit on the side of naughty, The Harlot was almost too much for me. I loved how the story started and I love the sexual tension between the main characters. It was both frustratingly teasing (in a good way) and juicy.

I almost liked Jessie Taskill. I liked how she was determined, strong, and independent, but at the same time vulnerable and fragile. I would probably loved her if she used her witchy powers more. I started reading the book thinking there were more witchy action than there was – that was a bit of a disappointment.

I did not care for Gregor Ramsay as much. I didn’t have a connection with the character whatsoever. The only thing I liked about him was his dominance – it wasn’t too much and didn’t go overboard but it was there and I felt his dominance over Jessie.

More supporting characters would have been nice, too. I think it would have helped balance the story and made it more interesting. Aside from that, I’m just really happy it wasn’t as messed up as the Fifty Shades trilogy where the more messed up the relationship of the main characters got, the crazier sex they had. I don’t like supporting that kind of relationships.

In summary, I liked Jessie and how the story began. I didn’t like Gregor as much, how there wasn’t much witchy action, and how the story ended. It was a slow-paced book that ended way too fast. It had a nice concept, but I just wish it had more content. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but feel free to try it out if you want. You might have a better reading experience that I had.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you feel about my review? Do you agree or disagree with it? Would you read it, if you haven’t yet, basing from the review?
  2. What did you think of the book? How would you rate it from scale 1 to 5 (5 being the highest).
  3. How do you feel about the main characters? Did you like them, hate them, relate to them?
  4. Would you recommend it to others?
  5. What other books would you recommend I read that’s similar to this one?