Okay, that’s not exactly accurate. Shelly is really a high-priced escort, and her heart is made of diamond-encrusted platinum, much better than gold. She’s a genuine sweetheart who will do anything to help someone in need, even a brat of a newbie hooker who would just as soon punch her in the face as be rescued. But Shelly is also incredibly damaged. She pretty much thinks she’s worthless and can do nothing but this thing she’s been brought up by an abusive father to do and coerced into by a bad news pimp with his finger on the pulse of Chicago’s crime world and his hand in the pocket of Chicago’s police force.
So when Shelly gets framed for murder, she has zero options. Or so it seems, until a friend in the police force risks everything to help her. Why does he do it? Because he sees something worthy in Shelly when she can’t see it in herself. He sees something worth saving where she has whittled down her life to doing what’s expected of her while occasionally saving someone else.
I won this book in a giveaway, and the author was so sweet, she warned me it would be dark and gritty. It was, but it also had a ton of heart. It was so painful to watch Shelly keep trying and failing to break out of “the life”. She’s a heroine who uses humor to distract herself and others from how damaged she is, but even through her humor, you can see the sweetness in her through the sacrifices she makes not only for those she loves but for girls like her who have a chance to get out of the life before they get in too deep.
There was plenty of danger to keep me on the edge of my seat, but my favorite part of the plot was the romance between Shelly and Luke, the cop with a past who busts his butt to clean Chicago’s streets of pimps. It’s clear from the first chapter that Luke loves Shelly, but she is perfectly incapable of seeing herself as worthy of love, so she doesn’t get it until Luke pounds it into her…pardon the expression, but in this case it’s apt (it’s a sexy book, folks, sexy).
Read this if you like glimpsing the tenderness hidden deep inside the seedier side of life. Read this if you like a great love story. Read this if you like tales about redemption and finding worth in ones very damaged self.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes that show Shelly’s heartwrenching blend of humor and strength:
I smiled at all the right places, cued by her tone more than an understanding of the inner workings of retail. I had always considered myself world-wise, world-weary, but it amazed me all the things I did not know. Things like clocking in instead of meeting for cocktails in the hotel bar, like getting a smoke break instead of a warm washcloth between clients.–Kindle Location 76.
Because if the life was something for her to escape from, what the hell was I still doing in it? Oh God, why couldn’t I get out?
But we weren’t the same, Laura and I. I didn’t have that lost look in my eyes. No confusion, no pain. When blue-gray eyes stared back at me from the mirror, I saw nothing there at all.–Kindle Location 239.
Briefly I felt regret for leaving Jenny behind. But I couldn’t save all of us. In fact, odds were high I couldn’t save any of us.–Kindle Location 434.