Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this—one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.
Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.
When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.
Follow Elizabeth—code-named Scarlett—to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.
Her face is blotchy, like she’s been stung by a bunch of bees. I can tell she might cry because her sea blue eyes are glowing brilliantly, and she’s got them wide open, the way girls do when they don’t want tears to spill and smear up their mascara.
Her wavy, dark brown hair is messy, hanging just above her shoulders, and I want to run my fingers through it.
I shouldn’t even be here.
I saw the gate open and I threw on my superhero cape. Then I saw the unfamiliar car with the San Francisco plates and found the door to her mother’s home unlocked. I know nobody’s living here. I keep an eye on the place, because I want to buy it soon; its acreage backs against my bird-hunting lodge, which is where I was heading when I made this detour.
Batman or not, I’ve screwed up. I shouldn’t be in Libby DeVille’s childhood home, standing in this massive, outdated kitchen with her, just like I shouldn’t have crept close enough to hear her talking on the phone with her father.
I tell myself that I should turn and go—after all, Priscilla’s waiting for me at the lodge—but my feet have other plans. I take a small step closer, my eyes never leaving hers, even as she looks me over, Lakers cap to boots.
“Asshole father?” In the tomb-like silence of the house, I’m surprised at how deep my voice is.
I can see her shoulders rise and fall; she’s trying to control herself. Judging by the bit I heard, it makes sense that she would be worked up. If his reputation is anything to go on, Benjamin DeVille didn’t do much for his wife or daughter when he was with them, and does even less now that he’s left town.
Libby quickly smooths the pained look from her face and crosses her arms. “How much did you hear?” she asks me with a wary wince.
“Enough to know you’re probably not the one in need of therapy.”
She squeezes her eyes shut, running a hand through that silky hair. “Wow, well that’s embarrassing.”
If only she could be a fly on the wall at the family home in NOLA back when I lived there with Dad, Rita, and my half-sister, Amber. This wouldn’t even register on our drama-meter. I want to tell her that, but I’ve got no clue how. Besides, the best way to keep a secret—that Rita is not my real mother, for instance—is to avoid mentioning anything to anyone that even comes close to the truth.
Libby chews her succulent lower lip, and it’s my turn to stare her down. I’ve only seen her once, from a distance, since the night of the party, and I’m surprised by how much weight she’s lost. I wonder if it’s intentional, or if she’s stressed, and I’m surprised to find I actually kind of give a damn.
She plays with the ends of her hair, and I let my gaze linger, from her low-cut royal blue sweater down her loose jeans to her suede shoes—some kind of moccasins. She looks cute. Casual. I feel a pleasant tingle just from being near her.
Finally her eyes flick up to mine, like she’s waiting for me to say something. So I do. “What do you need money for?”
Her mouth draws up like she’s sucking on a lemon. I like this face on her. The you-should-be-ashamed-of-yourself face; it’s kind of sexy mistress. To top it off, she arches her eyebrows primly. “That’s not really your business, Hunter West.”
Selling Scarlett delivers mystery, intrigue, mayhem, and chemistry in a neat little bundle.
How far would you go to save a friend? Would you sell an organ on the black market? Sell your car? How about auction off something so priceless and cherished, like your virginity? That’s the decision Elizabeth DeVille is left with after her long time friend is dumped into the public healthcare system, where he’s left to wither away. Knowing he can recover if he continued at the swanky place he was before, she comes up with a plan to raise the right funds.
Hunter West is a millionaire playboy. Haunted by demons in his past, he stays clear of relationships. Escorts are his preferred go to when he needs to scratch that particular itch. However, Elizabeth has been on his radar for quite a while. The feeling is mutual. Elizabeth is this dream he thinks he’s too tainted to have. Hunter is the one and only man Elizabeth has ever wanted. Her upcoming auction forces Hunter’s hand. But when there are other players in the mix intent on maliciousness can these two really come together and make it work?
I was hooked at the beginning with Hunter’s scene. He’s side of the story was filled with so much intrigue it really could have been a book on its own. His POV’s read almost like a crime novel and it played out so beautifully in my mind.
Elizabeth took some warming up to on my part. I was not feeling her till she makes the plan to head to Vegas to auction off her virginity. Honestly, after that she grew on me. I saw a different side of her personality. She’s strong, determined and protective when it comes to those she cares about.
I ate up and loved every scene with her and Hunter together. They bring out something in each other that left me looking forward to and yearning for their next encounter. They both got served the crap end of the stick when growing up and that’s something they need to overcome.
I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but Ms. James did a good job wrapping up the storyline. Overall, this was a pretty good read.
Ella James is giving away a signed copy
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