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.
It’s seldom that I find and read an erotic novel that I enjoy for the sex scenes alone. This, however, is one of those rare occasions.
Saskia Walker’s The Harlot is set in the historical Scotland, to year 1715. There, the story starts with a cat fight in a bar, where two whores are fighting for a man and their pimp is taking bets. One of the women is Jessie Taskill, The Harlot of Dundee, a woman who truly enjoys a tumble and doesn’t imitate the dead when under a man.
Gregor Ramsay is a man on a mission, seeking for a revenge. He needs the help of a capable but not too innocent woman to spy his enemies for him. When Gregor sees Jessie’s bare buttocks, he decides she’s just the girl for the task.
I admit, the plot is on the thin side, almost anaemic, but it does string together the unbelievably arousing sex scenes. Usually, I’d prefer more build up, more unresolved sexual tension, more waiting, but here the quick debauchery makes sense. For the plot. Of course with so much sex in a book there needs to be games to keep things fresh and exciting.
The first half of the book is spent on Gregor teaching Jessie how to seduce Ivor Wallace, the land owner Gregor holds a grudge against. This is where the voyeurism and light BDSM play comes in. If that’s not your thing or if you’d prefer to avoid hints of m/m and f/f, you should probably give this book a pass. However, if those things don’t bother you, make sure you either have a significant other at hand or enough batteries to keep you happy.
The second half, in comparison, drowns in plot as Jessie starts to spy for Gregor and Gregor learns choice things about his past and the past of his parents. Jessie also reveals that the accusations thrown at her in Dundee weren’t as inaccurate as Gregor believed.
Why then, if I enjoyed the book so thoroughly, am I not giving it a higher rating? The writing itself explains it. Especially the introduction to Jessie’s point of view felt repetitive and wooden. She started going on about her “secret talent” while talking about witchcraft and it annoyed me more than the usually irritating word choices for smut. Speaking of which, I’ve hidden a list under the spoiler tags. If you, like I, can’t stand certain words for genitalia or other body parts, well, beware:
twin globes for buttocks
her hot channel (lots of traffic there again?)
member (of parliament?)
most intimate place
And I’m only rounding up, because deep down, I still prefer plot over smut.
Series: Taskill Withces #1
Pages: 252 (epub)
Published: May 24th 2011