WHORE

AUTHOR:  Willow Aster

GENRE:  Romance

Available @ AMAZON

RELEASE DATE:  December 26, 2017  

REVIEWED BY:  Pistol Annie

BOOK BLURB:

Beautiful, intelligent, independent, strong-willed, wealthy…
Lilith Fontenot seems, by all appearances, to have it all. But that’s not how the highest paid prostitute in New Orleans sees herself.
A stain on society. A scourge. A waste. Outsider. Prisoner…
Any idyllic dream of the normal life she may have once imagined, Lilith buried long ago. Her only plan now is survival.
But mob boss Nico Santelli and community center owner Soti Christos have not given up on Lilith. Each has his own very specific, very opposing, plans for her, and neither will rest until it becomes a reality.

WHORE is a singularly bracing take on an ancient tale of tireless love, betrayal, and the possibility of redemption.

Because of the mystery and suspense aspects throughout this book, I’m going to be vague on storyline matters and stick with my personal likes and dislikes.  This is one of those stories that is best when you go in blindly and experience it all on your own.  The blurb should do its job piquing your interest quite favorably.

In some ways, this story is more than I expected and in other ways, less.  As you might expect, with a title such as Whore, this release has prompted a lot of curiosity, fascination and intrigue.  A standalone book set in the underworld of New Orleans, it includes mystery, suspense and romance, and is written in dual first-person perspective from both Lili and Soti — but mostly from Lili as it is her story to tell.  More than a year goes by during this journey with some fast time clips moving it forward.  The writing was stunning in a uniquely written plot.  And although you might feel the urge to question reality a few times, let it go and stretch a little for some really special hours of reading.  It is, after all, a Calgon moment called fiction.

I might have been a bit more excited with a slower pace that included additional background history on both Nico and Soti, both of whom piqued my interest level.  As a crucial party in this tale, adding Nico’s POV a time or two would have been an added benefit.  Character development could (should) have been given more priority.  In my opinion, there was just too much wasted potential that didn’t get fleshed out in the cases of both Nico and Soti.

Even so, a cast of diversified characters control the destiny of this intense and emotionally satisfying rollercoaster ride.  And you’ll find a few colorful characters in the secondary cast that will steal your heart as they add their own brand of wit and wisdom.  

A point of clarification here in case you might think there’s some big horrid romance triangle — there’s not.  At least not in the minds of the three who matter.  Readers will never doubt what is going on between these main characters.  

No one plans to be a whore. Except maybe my mother. It certainly wasn’t my life’s dream as a little girl.

Lilith (Lili) is the star.  Her character is so much more than expected.  At first you might think she’s weak, but don’t let her fool you.  She’s a lot stronger than even she imagines.  Your heart will break for her and the life over which she has never had any choice.  Her mind is always working and when the time comes, she knows exactly what she’ll do.  She’s resilient and smart.  Willow Aster gives Lili wings and she flies high.  She’s that extra-special and unexpected delight in this novel.

Nico Santelli is believable as the rich and powerful mob kingpin.  He is a cruel and deceitful man, and “no” is a word he refuses to accept.  We just don’t get enough background on him.  His character screams for more attention.  And it was a loss that he didn’t get it.  He’s Lili’s former lover until he marries another woman.  After a couple of years of no contact, he reappears in Lili’s life and things go down the rabbit hole quickly as he sets his sights on Lili once again. 

She engraves her name on my heart; I know exactly when it happens.  She leans back just long enough to look in my eyes, as if checking to see if this is real.  What she sees there reassures her, and we both shake with the knowledge of it.  Two lost souls, found.

Soti Christos is very nearly a perfect leading man.  He’ll have your heart going pitter-patter almost from the moment he finds his way onto the page.  A gentle giant — kind and generous who is beautiful in body and spirit.  Lili never expected a man like Soti to enter her life – much less the secret he carried with him.  Ah yes, that secret.  The one that suspended my imagination to a point where I was fearful that this is where the story would crash and burn.  But I went with it, and after the fact, it didn’t really carry much weight in my like or dislike in the overall scheme.

Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans sits a house of ill-repute known as Maison D’amour.  The business has been passed down through generations to its present owner, Alexis, who is also Lilith’s mom, and a woman easy to despise.  She’s a wicked piece of work and the author did a fantastic job creating a disgusting and dehumanized creature.  But every good mystery and suspense demands the bad and ugly and believe me, Alexis fit the bill perfectly, right along with Nico, as they do well in keeping a reader biting their nails and holding their breath.  Together, they are a powerful duo to be reckoned with.

I’ve read some reviews that express disappointment with the lack of sexual contact between Soti and Lili.  I don’t agree.  This is one area where I really applaud the author.  She was right on point with their relationship.  Not too much and slowly and steadily she goes.  I loved each of the moments between these two characters and felt that “less is more” fit the bill perfectly here.  Every single moment felt real and meaningful — and very intimate.

Heavy doses of angst are hidden in every corner — and touches each character’s life.  The highs and lows come with each line.  From the prostitute’s bedroom to the mafia mobster’s crimes and to the gentle giant’s house of hope, this book is sure to seize a reader’s attention from page one and possess it until the very last word.  This story isn’t soft or comfy, but abusively dark in its subject matter that might be triggers for some readers.  On the other hand, while it will shockingly break your heart and leave you breathless from both suspense and passion, your heart will also be filled with the wonders of strength and survival, forgiveness and truth and a soul-deep love.  

Towards the end, I became overly hopeful that how I had envisioned this one going might indeed come true.  But — it wasn’t meant to be.  After all the hype leading up to its release, WHORE was a bit of a disappointment for me in the end, but that was all on me as far as the absolute perfect happily-ever-after.  I pictured it one way and the author another.  Regardless, Willa Aster wrapped this one up tightly and packaged it nicely with an Epilogue that stands the test of time.

Our kiss feels like saltwater and sunshine and blood and pain and bliss, culminating in two hearts finally syncing up to the same heartbeat. Believing. To believe in love is to accept it, to be sure of it.  I finally believe.

 

1 Comment


  1. Intriguing….just might read this one!

    Reply

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