Enter Courtesans: A glitzy, sensual world of powerful people and the courtesans they’ll pay anything to have.
An exclusive and secret agency, for over two hundred years Courtesans has specialized in providing entertainment of a sexual nature. Its clients are rich, powerful, and influential men and women, and one only meets a courtesan through referral from trusted sources. Courtesans facilitates bringing together men and women to satisfy any sexual need imaginable, matching the perfect courtesan with just the right client. The agency prides itself on training its courtesans, male and female, to interpret and fulfill its clients greatest fantasies, even the secret ones no one dares to say aloud. The price is high, but everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of a date with a courtesan will agree, the fantasy is worth every penny.
These are their tales…
This is a book that got my attention based on the author. Well, the cover raised my eyebrows so I paused to look, and Jasmine Haynes’s name on it was what made me pick it up. I actually browsed it at a bookstore, put it down, but it stayed in my mind for months. I actually had some trouble hunting it down (poor memory), but bought it in e, and have read it multiple times since. I think I enjoy the anthology despite the premise, in a way, but it’s not the focus. The heroines of each story are courtesans. So… yes. A fancy way of saying hookers. Extremely high class, exclusive ones, but … anyway. The way in which the anthology progresses, is brilliant, I have to say. (I’ve been thinking about it a lot.) The first story is practically a straight sweet romance – all of what you expect… along with heat. But the emotions are the focus, and the last one is wild and kinky and what you might expect.
So with that random intro, I feel like more information is necessary. Let’s get on with the specifics.
The Girlfriend Experience
Marianna becomes a courtesan because she’s in a bad place financially, and her friend who is also a courtesan suggests it. (Convenient, no? Even more convenient is the fact that Marianna is beautiful, well rounded, and grew up wealthy and privileged.) Marianna is 35, and in a way I think her age makes this a bit less smarmy. Although she’s still a bit unsettled in life, at least she’s got the maturity to figure things out in a more rational way than say a college aged girl.
Chase is… well, I found him to be adorable. He’s lived with a lot of guilt and hasn’t truly been living life. He has a fantastic daughter, and… well I’m not sure how do describe him, but he cares. (And Chase’s friend is the one who hires a courtesan for him…)
I like that things start out relatively slow, and essentially, what Marianna and Chase have is a normal budding relationship. It’s almost sweet, and they go on dates, and are emotionally involved and really care for each other.
Dominique and Gabriel are a perfectly matched pair. Dominique has been hurt by a failed marriage, and is looking for validation. Few things top being the most coveted and highest paid courtesan. Dominique is trying to find her self worth again, and tangible means is a very concrete way to go about doing it. Gabriel is a dream hero. Sure the two of them have some major sexytimes, but Gabriel cares. He goes through a ridiculous amount of effort to set something up for Dominque that is special and tailored specifically for her. While it costs him a lot, money isn’t the issue, and he shows Dominique that what she really wants isn’t being coveted.
Dominique also does care, and has an eye opening experience when she runs across a previous client. This novella felt very complete to me, and everything came full circle. It was believable, and the romance was satisfying.
I have to say this makes me think sports, and in a way some athleticism is required but really it’s all kink, but with a satisfying level of emotion and authenticity. Noelle and Dax are meant to be together, in a twisted kinky perfect sense.
Noelle needs variety, which three failed marriages has taught her. She feels bad about her past, but knows herself. The novella definitely isn’t hung up on her previous relationships. It also goes into much more detail about other clients, because Noelle continues to see them. Dax is someone who ultimately cares about a woman’s pleasure. He wants to orchestrate it, and be in control – and without going into deep psychological analysis… I like that the characters, or at least Noelle owns to a double standard. She will continue to see clients, but doesn’t want Dax to be with another woman. Perfectly, Dax doesn’t want that either. (And I don’t consider that a spoiler because after all this is a romance – we all know how it’ll end.)
I liked that while so confident and outrageous sexually, Dax and Noelle are still uncertain of their emotions and budding relationship, where they stand with each other, and what the boundaries are.
I enjoyed all three novellas, and as I said at the beginning, the fact that the heroines are courtesans is almost a gimmick. (Although perhaps not in Noelle’s case as that is integral to her relationship with Dax.) Nevertheless each ends up in a committed relationship. I really enjoy Ms. Haynes’s writing, and have to admit I was impressed with how she crafted her stories. They could so easily be tawdry and over the top, but aren’t. I’m definitely looking forward to her other courtesans books… and I’d never have thought I’d like stories with that premise. Kudos to Ms. Haynes, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes romance with heat.
*NB: This review was written awhile ago, but never posted. I’ve read all three anthologies in this “series” and will be talking about it more in the future