We’re reviewing another great book written by the fabulous Alta Hensley! Alta writes some lovely dark books, and this is one of them. We were introduced into this world back in Royally Mine with Roman and Cherie’s story. This story has a different couple, Kenneth and Anita. This is a lush story with bad guys you love to hate and a good guy you are going to hate to love.
“But I saw it first hand. I saw that the men got what they wanted, or they took it. Not necessarily by force, but by the power of money, gifts, compliments, promises of a future of never having to work again. They hung a carrot of a new life only girls like me dream of, which meant that yes, they got whatever wanted. You were all nothing but a room full of bastards and whiskey.” Anita to Kenneth, talking about a Tasting Room party. This is one of my favorite quotes from the story. Anita gets all the best lines. Poor Kenneth.
Anita is a young woman from Muckaluk, NV. She’s lived her entire life there, in a trailer behind an abandoned gas station. Anita never thinks of Muckaluk as a town, she just calls it exit 222, mile marker 51. Her grandparents brought her up, and when they died, she got left with nothing but their trailer. She works as a caretaker for her friend, Virgie. Virgie has led a long and interesting life, including spending time in New Orleans.
Virgie doesn’t want to see Anita spend her entire life in the middle of nowhere. She wants Anita to follow her dreams. When Anita tells Virgie that she has no dreams, she immediately calls the daughter of the woman who owned the boarding house she stayed in when she was in NOLA, arranges for a room for Anita, and then takes her to the bank and Greyhound. All of a sudden, Anita is on her way to NOLA.
Kenneth is one of the founding members of Spiked Roses. It’s a gentlemen’s club where the word no is never heard. You have to be a multi-gazillionaire to join, but once you do, just about anything goes. Kenneth is a lawyer who helps to settle all the lawsuits that the club racks up. At the beginning of the book, he tells all the other founding members that the club is close to closing, and puts forward some… interesting ideas. One of those ideas is the contract.
The idea of a contract is that instead of the members randomly fucking staff and then getting sued by employees when the relationship breaks off, they will sign a contract, which basically states that the member owns the women. That contract will negotiate everything that will happen between the two people during their relationship. It will also arrange a financial settlement for the employees for after the relationship ends. Then his other big idea is the Tasting Room.
The Tasting Room is a party room. In there, they have special, themed parties. The women who work at Spiked Roses are able to go to parties and contract with members and get $$$$$$$. The contractual period and the remuneration depends on the theme of the party. The woman can make serious bank and never have to work again.
When Anita gets to NOLA, one of the other women in the house gets her a job at Spiked Roses. Kenneth interviews Anita for the job, and she impresses him. He watches her all the time but never does anything. Then, she volunteers for a Tasting Room party with the theme of Dark. And that’s where she gets into big fucking trouble.
OK, here’s where we part ways if you don’t want any risk of spoilers. I spent a good part of the time wanting to strangle Kenneth. He is a self-professed bastard, and damn, if the title doesn’t half fit. He does get better, and I did stop wanting to strangle him, and once he got out of his own way, he turned into a good man. Anita is a strong woman who stands by her friends. She and Kenneth are really oil and water for a lot of the book, and while they have sex early, it’s not the best time for them, and it’s pretty close to hate fucking at that point. Anyway, sex, spanking, language, more sex, and other fun perversions exist in this book. If you aren’t willing to take a sip of this whiskey, I can suggest some other stories for you.
OMG, the guy who buys Anita’s contract at the party she goes to in the Tasting Room? He is loathsome. He’s a nasty piece of shit and the one that you are really going to love to hate. He pushes Anita to a point where she just can’t take any more, which makes her run away. Frankly, she went a wee bit further than I would’ve. I would’ve done more than just run away with $100K. She had a good reason to do the party and a good reason for the money.
Kenneth does at least realize that he feels something for Anita and chooses to be the one to track her down because any others doing it could end with her getting hurt. Even while he’s trying to remain a bastard to her, he still feels something, so he acts more like a bastard to Anita than he might otherwise do.
I really like Anita a lot more than I like Kenneth. Funny little note, my husband’s name is Kenneth, and when I get mad at him I tell him he’s an asshole. I may start calling him a bastard now. Love you, honey!
Anyway, I loved this book, and I’m waiting to see what Alta does with the rest of the series. I know that there are going to be more, so I’m looking forward to them.
Pretend my ARC disclaimer is here.