Reviewed by Jennifer B.
TITLE: With or Without Him
AUTHOR: Barbara Elsborg
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: 427 pages
BLURB: “The most dangerous refuge could be his lover’s arms. “
Everyone has at least one deep-seated fear. For Tyler, it’s being in debt. He’s so desperate to get out and stay out of it, he’ll do almost anything-including selling his body at Saturday night sex parties.
But he refuses to open his mind to anyone, especially the men paying to use him however they want. The only time he’s truly happy is during the week at college, when he can escape into his music.
The moment Haris sees Tyler playing piano at a concert, he falls hard, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the guy his. Even if it means-for the first time in his life-opening his wallet as wide and desperate as his heart.
20,000 to live with a good-looking guy for four months? How can Tyler resist the chance to ditch the sex party scene for good? But neither man realizes how much they’re risking. And when outside forces close in, ready to destroy them, the trickiest part about the next four months could be just surviving.
Warning: Contains a “for hire” bad boy with a filthy mouth, an awkward guy with a penchant for BDSM, a hypochondriac butler who won’t shut up, a dog called Alcide, and a lot of hot and dirty M/M sex.
The cover? The blurb? The length? Oh yeah, I so wanted this to be good. Thank goodness, I was not disappointed. It has so many elements that hit my triggers, from the damaged characters to the rent boys and a few others in between.
Both characters are damaged though due to totally different sets of circumstances. Tyler has many issues from his childhood but the main one that has sent him running down the rent boy path is his fear of being in debt. Tyler is a very talented music student paying his way through university. When he gets the Saturday sex party gig, the money is just too good to pass up. He seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders for the most part and tries to keep things in perspective. He breaks his number one rule about getting involved with anyone when he befriends new sex party initiate, Jeremy.
Not long after his one night with Jeremy, he encounters Haris, a self-made billionaire who has quite a few issues of his own. From the first time Haris sees Tyler, he is intrigued before Tyler even picks up an instrument. Unfortunately, their paths cross next when he finds and saves Tyler from a bad situation. Believing the only way Tyler would be interested in him was if he was being paid, he offered Tyler a large amount of money to be exclusively his for four months.
There are some shady things going on from Haris’ past, and some trouble Tyler has with the sex party operators, so that you never really know which direction the trouble is coming from. Added to that are some problems Jeremy has where he calls upon Tyler for help, causing Haris to doubt his trust in Tyler. Of course, they have communication breakdowns which, coupled with their own trust issues, make for some major bumps in the road for these two, not the least of which is the contract between Haris and Tyler. As their feelings grow toward each other, both often question the actual motives and feelings, not knowing if the other is just in it for the contract/money.
When the contract was not on their minds though, these guys were hot. I had no trouble seeing them together, even though there was a pretty big age gap and they seemed to be from completely different worlds. They shared a common bond, each having only shared their secrets with each other, and for two people so worried about trusting each other, trusted enough to share those secrets.
There are quite a few bad guys in this story, but there were also some goodies. Haris’ chauffeur/butler/right-hand-man extraordinaire is a fabulous character. He was funny and caring and just an all-around great addition to this story.
This book grabbed my attention and held on to the very end. The writing was smooth and well done. However, though I knew this story takes place in London, I didn’t always have a clear sense of that. It didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story, but did come to mind here and there. This was my first story by this author, and it will definitely not be my last. It was a good, solid, sink-your-teeth-into-it story, and exactly what I was looking for.
ADD IT TO YOUR WISHLIST: Samhain
Jennifer B. is one of the newest official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
I welcome her to my team!