REVIEW: ‘Hooker’ by J L Perry

Published:31st May 2016

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 251

Format: Ebook ARC supplied by Publisher for Kell’s Bookmark Clique Readers Retreat

RRP: $17.99 for paperback (Cover at the bottom of the post) or $4.99 for ebook (with the blurb cover)

3/5 Stars 

One night of passion with a sinfully hot stranger will change everything. By the author of the #1 bestseller BASTARD, J. L. Perry.
Jade’s young life was tough. After her mother died during childbirth and her father could no longer look after her, she was placed in foster care where she stayed for the next ten years. She grew up feeling unloved and unwanted as she was passed around from one screwed up home to the next.
Things began to look up for her when she was adopted by a wealthy socialite at the age of eleven. Sometimes, though, things aren’t always what they seem. Jade didn’t know it at the time, but her new adoptive mother had big plans for her . . .
Brock grew up privileged. He had everything going for him. Money, looks, charm, success and an endless array of beautiful women. He wasn’t interested in commitment. To him women were easy. They practically threw themselves at his feet. All they wanted was to do something nobody had ever managed before. Snare the hot, rich bachelor.
Then he met Jade. She was like a breath of fresh air. A challenge. Nothing like the women he was used to. Their one night together ignited something within him. A burning desire to own her, possess her, but Jade had other plans. Nobody says no to Brock Weston, “nobody.”
But, when fate brings them together again, will he get what he wants? Or will Jade’s secrets crush him, and destroy any chance they have of being together?

The best way I can think to sum up this book is Pretty Woman meets modern day Australia underbelly. It’s a very erotic romance, heavy on the romantic suspense elements in sections of the book. And while it might not be my usual cup of tea, it was an interesting read and I enjoyed it none the less.

Jade Davis has been dealt a shit hand. There’s no other way to look at it. With her Mother having died during childbirth and a Father who couldn’t deal, she was raised in a variety of homes courtesy of the Australian foster system. Then one day she’s picked out of the crowded room to be adopted, only to find her fairytale fantasy world come crashing down around her as her ‘fairytale’ mother turns out to be a well known Madame who controls every aspect of her life.

Brock on the other hand is most definitely an alpha knight in shinning armour. CEO of his family’s security business, Brock takes his work very seriously and his women any way he can get them. Their underwear too. Until he is awe struck by Jade at the airport however. From that moment on, his life is blinded by the girl in the red shoes who stole his heart without knowing his name. But can he deal with the pretty girls dark secrets lurking just below the surface? Will her profession be too much for him to handle?

For the first third of this book I absolutely loved it. The characters were interesting and larger than life, there was so much intrigue and mystery surrounding Jade and then Brock. And that cute meet between Jade and Brock at the  airport was  both super adorable and kind of hot. Before I knew it, I was flying through the story, racing through the chapters and eagerly gobbling up the book … until I wasn’t.

I’m not sure where it happened exactly but at some point in the book the characters who had seemed so real and refreshing just pages ago, now fell kind of flat, fitting into very stereotypical roles and systems. The steamier aspects of the romance (aka physical aspects) suddenly over took everything else, and although it’s a large trait of the genre and not one I admittedly read a lot of, there seemed to be a lot of sex for sex’s sake. Which kind of just made me yawn. The writing stopped being fun, the characters stopped being cute, and there’s only so many times I wanted to read about how much he adored her and she loved him before it got old.

Which is a shame, because I think this book showed a lot of promise and could have been exceptional. It’s the ultimate underdog – trapped naive girl being held prisoner by her escort occupation and mother Madame before finding the love of her life and fighting tooth and nail to get out of there to be with him – and an ideal story.

One thing I do want to commend Perry on here, is her representation of the Australian foster/adoption system. It’s a complicated mess at the best of times, and we’ve all read the news stories of children falling through the cracks and left in the worst of places without being checked upon. I’ve seen first hand a lot of kids go through that system thanks to a family member acting as an in between home. I’ve witnessed the devastation, pain and outrage this system has on kids who just want the chance to find their voice, their place and their people and I truly think Perry nailed this representation. Sure there were things not entirely accurate, but the emotion and the confusion was right there on the page. And then continually echoed in Jade’s shadow throughout the novel.

I enjoyed the narrative, however the execution of sections of this book let it down for me. There were too many inconsistency with story and style that niggled at the back of my head whilst reading, until they became so loud I couldn’t ignore them any more. One of the biggest sticking points for me was the odd terminology. This book is set in Sydney … but do Sydney, or Australians at large even, still use servants? I’ve talked this through with a couple of people, and it’s very possible that this is just a ‘me’ thing, But that one word just grated on my nerves.  I also couldn’t buy the whole totally naive and innocence line of Jade’s character the longer the book went on. She’s a high priced hooker whose lived a horrible life and been made to do and see some of the worst aspects of humanity, and yet she’s so sweet and naive and not truly affected? Bone weary affected? It just seemed at odds with the character and profession.

Although I still stand by my above opinion, I’ve recently returned from a readers retreat in which Perry was one of the attending authors (and Hooker was the book we  read leading up to it). While chatting about the book and answering a myriad of questions from readers and authors a like, Perry stressed just how strong Jade was to experience all that and come out on top, still remaining true to her inner self and innocence, despite all she had seen and done. And you know what, I really like that idea. Even if it makes me contradictory. It might not be a true representation of reality, but the theory behind it works and I can’t deny that Jade is not a strong, albeit a bit misguided and guilt ridden, character in this book. Oddly enough Jade is kind of like a modern day Rapunzel (minus the hair, I’m think more along the lines of being locked in the tower here) trapped in the industry by a mother whose obsessed beyond reason. She’s innocent, she’s fun and quirky, but she’s never really experienced the world beyond her ‘tower/job’ until Brock comes along.

I really really really hope though that Perry writes a follow up novel to this one, or a companion novel – I’m not greedy – featuring Josh or Theo, or Josh and Theo (now there’s an idea!). Those two were such vibrant characters with back story seemingly bursting from side stage well and truly on to the main stage. I loved the snippets we saw of them. Their interactions with Jade were half brotherly, half gay-best-friend, and I was really relieved to see someone looking out for her best interests in the long run. I know Brock is doing this too, but at some point he flicked a switch in the book for me, going from charming-knight-in-shinning-armour to self-proclaimed-and-overly-possessive-hero who walked a fine line.

While perhaps not quite my cup of tea, Hooker was an enjoyable read. With this book Perry has well and truly stamped her place on the erotic romance genre and proven, I think, that her stories have a lot more to say than perhaps first meets the eye. I certainly wasn’t expecting the layers of depth and character development from Hooker before I started it. Perry writes from the heart, and there is no doubting that love flows freely from every page of this book.

Alternate cover used for paperbacks.

 

To learn more about J L Perry, visit the following social media websites:

 Goodreads |Twitter | Facebook |

 

To purchase a copy of the book visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | iBooks Australia

 

2016aww

 

 

 

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