My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
I had only recently discovered the books of Shelby Reed when I got the opportunity to review this reissued version of THE FIFTH FAVOR, originally released by Ellora’s Cave back in 2004. It tells the story of a woman who was looking for a big break to help boost her career as a reporter for a sleazy tabloid magazine but ended up finding the one man who could fill the emotional hole in her life. But when the man you love makes his living by sexually servicing other women, can the love you have for each other survive the fallout when he stands accused of murder?
Billie has just come out of a failed marriage where she had been starved for affection from her ex-husband who then proceeded to dump her for a woman more worthy of his love. All she has left is her career, and that isn’t going all that great, either. When her boss arranges an interview with one of the most sought-after male escorts at an exclusive brothel for women, Billie is only thinking about how this assignment will help her at work. But when she meets Adrian, it’s all she can do not to allow herself to fall into his arms like every other woman he’s serviced before her. To his credit, Adrian doesn’t see Billie as just another woman to be romanced, although he’s not quite sure what it is about her that he finds so irresistible. When Adrian becomes a suspect in the possible murder of Lucien, his best friend and fellow escort, both his and Billie’s lives are turned upside down and it’s not a sure thing whether they’ll still be with each other with so many obstacles in their path to lasting love.
In THE FIFTH FAVOR, Shelby Reed displays her considerable ability to show her characters’ range of emotions without becoming maudlin or mawkish. Adrian knows his secret life has been a lie, yet it takes the double-whammy of meeting Billie and the death of Lucien to shake him out of the destructive rut he’s been in for so many years. Billie’s self-esteem is hanging by a thread when the most beautiful man she’s ever met actually wants to be with her, but she can’t help thinking that it’s all just part of his polished persona as Adrian, and not the real man who truly loves her. The way they come together and slowly chip away the walls they’ve each been hiding behind is what makes THE FIFTH FAVOR such a remarkable read for me, and the steps they each make toward their ultimate happy ending had me crying several times all the way until the end of the book. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level: 4