Harlot by Victoria Dahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sad,Painful But Ultimately About the Power of Love and Acceptance
"Caleb might come back and what if he did? He wouldn't return to apologize or make amends. He wouldn't come back to court her. She was a whore. There was only one reason he might return, and he'd thrown it to her in scorn. I can pay."
FINAL DECISION: Sad, thoughtful but with a message of acceptance and forgiveness, HARLOT is emotional but also sexy. Loved these characters who are survivors.
THE STORY: Caleb Hightower left town two years ago to make money working in California with the intent to return to his childhood sweetheart and marry her. He returns to find out she has become a harlot. Jessica Willoughby was left penniless after the death of her father. She ended up making a deal in which she agreed to sell herself. Now that Caleb has returned, she agrees to allow him to use her body in order to purge the anger Caleb feels toward her.
OPINION: I found this book compelling and heartbreaking. What I loved best about it was how the central theme is about forgiveness. But the important forgiveness is not Caleb forgiving Jessica, but Jessica forgiving herself and learning to live again rather than just exist. She learns to accept that she did the best she could even if her decisions were difficult ones.
The connection between Caleb and Jessica is so strong from the beginning that there are no doubts that they love one another. The question is whether they can forgive and move forward. As the book begins, Caleb wants to hurt Jessica and Jessica wants to be hurt because of her decision to sell herself. Through their sexual relationship, however, they find out that there is something deep and true between them.
As the secrets in this story are revealed, I especially liked that Caleb and Jessica are able to reconnect apart from Caleb finding out what actually happened. He loves and accepts her before the truth comes out.
This is not a light read, but it is a beautiful love story.
WORTH MENTIONING: I appreciated that this book took a hard, realistic look at prostitution rather than romanticizing it.
CONNECTED BOOKS: HARLOT is a standalone.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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