Title: The Harlot
Author: Saskia Walker
Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Publisher: Spice (5/31/2011)
Source: Review copy from publisher
“It is a Dark Era, one when 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 burned at the stake and separated from her siblings in the aftermath, Jessie Taskill is similarly gifted, ripe with a powerful magic that must stay hidden. Until one night when she's accused by a rival, and Jessie finds herself behind prison walls 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. But toying with Gregor’s lust for her is enjoyable, and she agrees to be his pawn while secretly intending to use him just as he is using her.”
Gregor Ramsay is having a drink at the Dundee inn when a fight starts; two prostitutes are cat fighting for a customer. One of them attracted his attention; she is feisty and beautiful. He learns her name is Jessie Taskill and is known as The Harlot of Dundee. She is perfect for what he needs and decides to talk to her after the fight.
Jessie is winning the fight but her opponent declares Jessie is having the advantage because she is using witchcraft on her. Jessie is immediately arrested and taken into custody. Gregor knows the laws against witch are severe and Jessie would be dead within a week. He decides the best thing to do is to help her escape, like that she will be in his debt and he could use her for his revenge.
Jessie is considering using witchcraft to escape when Gregory arrives to her cell dress as a clergyman. He tells her he would help her escape in exchange of a favor. Jessie misinterpreted his meaning and “pays” him right away, but that was not what Gregory intended so after he is more specific and explains his plan for revenge to Jessie.
Gregory wants revenge from the man who destroyed his father. He wants Jessie to infiltrated his house, seduce him and acquire important information in regards to some lands.
After Jessie’s escape, Gregor takes her to his lodgings where he starts to train her in the acts of innocence and submission, just the way his enemy prefers the girls. But with this “training” Gregory and Jessie start to get closer and their priorities begin to change.
It was difficult for me to get into the first third of the book; I attribute this to Jessie’s character. She is a prostitute who enjoys too much her job. The book’s blurb describes her as a “lusty lass” and I think the description falls short. Usually when books are written about prostitutes the women are forced or with no other option and they don’t enjoy their job. So seeing this character who loves and enjoys what she does was a little bit of turn off for me. But after some pages I started to learn more about her and started to like “lusty” Jessie a little more.
Jessie has a troubled past, her mother was accused of being a witch, later she was stoned and burned, while Jessie, her twin sister Maisie and brother Lennox were forced to watch. After that Jessie was taken away from her siblings to never see them again. And from then on she has lived a tough life where she has been rejected and pointed at for her mother’s sins. Also Jessie has power as her mother had, but she needs to hide it. Getting caught would mean her death. All these factors make her more likable and real at the end.
Gregor is another troubled soul. But he is caring and fun. Even though he just wanted Jessie as an instrument to obtain his revenge he cared about her from the beginning.
Jessie and Gregor relationship was a steamy one; things started superficially between them, just sex and maybe company but things were developed well in the story, making a believable change for the characters.
The Harlot is set in Scotland in the XVIII century, in a time where the conflicts between England and Scotland were at its peak, making it interesting and historically accurate. It shows the people moods in regards with this situation. Also shows us how easily it was to accuse somebody of witchcraft and how these persons were hunted down and burn in the stake without clemency.
The plot was an interesting one and it had a good pace, especially the last half of the book. I also liked the paranormal aspect of the book, it was a nice complement to the story.
I felt the end of the book was left without resolution in certain aspects. I think an epilogue would have been necessary to learn if Jessie “search” had fruits and also with certain things in regards to Gregor, I won’t say what to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.
The language of this book was another thing that turn me off a little bit, I don’t mind at all the “dirty talk”, I might say I enjoy it (a lot) if it’s well done, but in this book I don’t know how many times the words cunny, puss, cock, length, blunt and dripping were used, but they were many times. So many times that the language felt repetitive and unoriginal.
The Harlot was my first book by Saskia Walker and it won’t be my last. If you want a book with “lots” of sexy time, in an historical setting, with a wanton heroine and a touch of paranormal, this book is for you.
Quotes that… caught my eye
- Not only was she the most delicious honey pot he’d ever wanted to easy his cock into, but she…
- “You are a shapely young woman, sturdy. You bait a man. There will be many who are eager to spit your virginal crack with their pricks” – He was a charmer.
My Verdict: 3 ½ Paws
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