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At Your Beck & Call Paperback – May 7, 2014
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The Amazon Book Review
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"This book overwhelmed me. It took my heart hostage and it did not release it until I felt every single emotion that the characters felt, every heartbreak, every doubt, every self-deprecating thought. It starts as a rather entertaining chronicle of a man's life as a gigolo, only to realise that the account of Hallen's past only serves to make him more three-dimensional in our eyes and to make us understand him better once Laura enters his life. A perfectly paced plotline, realistically sculpted characters, a heart-warming romance that managed to touch even the most cynical parts of me-this is a story that stayed with me for days after I finished it and even succeeded in shaking some of my most entrenched preconceptions about life, love, age." NATASHA IS A BOOK JUNKIE
-This book overwhelmed me. It took my heart hostage and it did not release it until I felt every single emotion that the characters felt, every heartbreak, every doubt, every self-deprecating thought. It starts as a rather entertaining chronicle of a man's life as a gigolo, only to realise that the account of Hallen's past only serves to make him more three-dimensional in our eyes and to make us understand him better once Laura enters his life. A perfectly paced plotline, realistically sculpted characters, a heart-warming romance that managed to touch even the most cynical parts of me-this is a story that stayed with me for days after I finished it and even succeeded in shaking some of my most entrenched preconceptions about life, love, age.- NATASHA IS A BOOK JUNKIE --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Jane Harvey-Berrick is an author of sharpy, witty contemporary romance.
Top customer reviews
This is no spoiler, the prologue starts simply and sets the tone at the outset. "I f#%^ women for money." Hallen tells his story with great honesty. We hear how his family background both helped and hindered him, giving him a skill set that would add to his charms and marketability as a male escort while simultaneously limiting his choices and allowing him to justify the morality of it all (a mother who introduced a steady flow of 'uncles' to his young life). In many ways he is lucky that he was recruited by Eloise, as there was a certain education that came with her level of connections. She also seems to have been a mother-figure in the absence of Hallen's real mother. Hallen has his eyes open when he enters the life and we see the humor, the humanity, the raw sensuality and the degradation in equal amounts through his eyes. It is quite simply an amazing piece of narrative even without the love story.
However, Jane Harvey-Berrick is a writer of poignant romance and the tale would not be complete without Hallen finding and fighting for his happy ending. Laura is the one client he never expected to meet, the one who would make it impossible for him to stay in the business. But how does one get out when his past (and hers) keeps slapping them in the face? Well, Jane explores and explains this heroic journey better than anyone I know. All of the relationships (the parade of women, Laura and her resistant family, friends of both Hallen and Laura some of whom know with varying levels of dis/approval) are so incredibly well-written. Each one believable, every reaction a gem, every emotional portrait painted with careful attention to light, texture, colour, perspective, tone and balance.
As always, with Jane's work, the reader should allow themselves an empty weekend. Send the family out, buy in snacks, have wine, chocolate, calming music and a box of tissues at the ready so you can sink into the divine and debauched quality of her narrative. Toys and spare panties optional but recommended.
The book description is a bit misleading, and I wish I went in blind not knowing there was a Laura / Hallen relationship. They do not meet until well into the book. So enter reading this story with a mindset of indulging on the journey Hallen takes us, and do not wait for the story "to start" (i.e. when Hallen meets Laura). I loved the pacing of the book, and feel the description sets the wrong expectation which can leave some waiting too long for the hero and heroine to meet.
Hallen is a very flawed character. He is a good person who makes *terrible* choices. I often bounced between empathy and pity, but wanted to shake sense into him at other times. We read his journey and witness him getting lost in a fractured and seedy side of privileged reality. I went from liking him to wanting to let go of him completely (as he immersed himself into a life as a escort and lost himself). It was a wonderful tension, and kept me curious as to where the author would lead us. Also interesting is that Hallen is the one pigeon held by his looks. He is extremely objectified, judged, labeled, and few look past his appearance to the man within.
Laura is an empathetic heroine. You understand her insecurities and baggage from an emotionally abusive marriage. I wished for her to see her worth, and read / witness more of it. We live in a society that tags youth to beauty, and that is only one narrow aspect of it. Women gain emotional maturity and wisdom as youth fades, and that enhances a completely different type of beauty. Although Laura's appearance doesn't define her worth, it was clear she didn't realize how beautiful she truly is. Layer on people's superficial reaction to Hallen ... and the poor woman was a hot mess of emotions and insecurity.
I will read this book again without a doubt, and look forward to exploring more work by Jane Harvey-Berrick. Her research, details, and accuracy were flawless. The storyline is refreshingly original. The characters are mature and intelligent. And finally, most of the book is brilliantly and accurately written from the male p.o.v..
At Your Beck & Call transcends the Romance book categorization, and offers so much for us to think about as readers.
Tops my list of 2014 reads.
Most recent customer reviews
What I didn't like; Eloise and how she used Halan, but it made a good story I suppose- this is fiction.Read more