With champagne and caviar inundating my every sense, I slither through the light wooden floors of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in The Met. As I walk, I pretend to admire the expensive jewelry being showcased tonight by a famous designer whose name I can’t remember. A multicolored diamond butterfly sparkles to my left and a cobra made out of black stones glistens to my right. Rows upon rows of precious gems twinkle under the soft lights of the room, flooding the space between the walls with the glow of a thousand stars. Furtive glances. Secrets gossiped. Beauty criticized. Lofty music fills the atmosphere as the über rich mingle and pretend to like each other, yet you can almost taste their conceit and derision for one another in the air.
This is Walker’s world, and I love it.
Standing across the room, where the crowd is thinner and the music fainter, I spot Walker’s blond head in the corner of the room, talking to a group of his colleagues and their wives. He looks polished and worth every penny of his trust fund in his sleek black tuxedo, perfectly starched white shirt and black bowtie. His long golden hair parted to the side shines like the sun. He is truly flawless.
I smile because it’s hard to picture that this is the same guy who likes to snort coke off my tits as he fucks me while hardcore porn plays in the background. He looks untouchable and so cool, but his searching eyes, scanning the crowd for me give him up. He’s wondering where I am. He did tell me not to go too far, after all. Soon after we arrived at the party, I gave him some space to talk to his friends and do his thing while I did mine. I hate clingy people, so I avoid being one.
I grab a third flute of champagne from a passing waiter, and try to decide which of the different displays to check out first when my eyes land on a spectacular piece of jewelry. On a bed of black silk, similar to my hair color, lies an extravagant necklace made of diamonds and rubies—a small heaven within one’s reach as long as you can afford the price.
I bridge the space between the glass protecting the necklace and me until it’s within my reach, fighting the urge to touch the cool surface. As if under a spell, I observe how the rows of diamonds embedded in platinum form leaves and thorns. At its center is a rose made out of red diamonds almost as big as my palm.
I feel someone walk up and stand next to me, but I don’t give him or her a second thought as I continue to admire the way the light hits the gems, making them shine.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
His voice is smooth and commanding, dripping absolute power. I keep my eyes locked on the display. Call it sixth sense, but somehow I know that under no circumstance should I make eye contact with the stranger who speaks like the ruler of the world.
“Yes,” I say simply.
“I wonder how much it is?” the man asks.
“I don’t think it matters … I highly doubt anyone can afford it.”
He chuckles, and the sound is more delicious than his voice. Lusher. “Oh, but I can.”
I smile at his self-assurance. I love cocky assholes. “I still doubt it.”
“You shouldn’t. I only speak the truth,” he retorts coolly. His voice is nonchalant yet his words leave no room for disbelief—a demand and a statement all in one.
Suddenly, the noises of the room become distant. People talking and laughing amongst friends and the orchestra playing all fade away until all I hear is him speaking.
And at this moment, that is all that matters.
“The truth is very subjective, sir.”
“The truth may be subjective but money isn’t. Money can buy anything.”
His answer is like an electroshock, jumpstarting my brain from a champagne-induced haze. My pulse begins to accelerate, excitement making it hard to take a deep breath. Don’t look at him … don’t.
“Oh really,” I say, my voice dripping with sarcasm. He’s right, though.
“Of course. I believe everything,” he pauses, “and everyone has a price.”
Curiosity winning the battle against curiosity, I turn to face him, and what a fucking big mistake that is. When our eyes meet, I feel incapacitated of all sense and movement. The sight of him takes my breath away. This man gives the term “lust at first sight” a whole new meaning.
In my short twenty-three years, I’ve been with extremely handsome men, perfect even, but to classify the man standing next to me in any kind of category would be a disservice to him, and not really fair to the others. Longish, light brown hair wildly framing his face, vacant eyes the color of dollar bills, a slightly crooked nose, and a mouth that begs to be buried deep within your thighs. His beauty is as harsh as it is stunningly perfect. Dressed in a simple black tuxedo and unbuttoned white shirt, the man exudes innate virility and grace, reminding me of a black panther stalking his prey. And just like a panther, it’s the pure raw and powerful energy emanating from within him that I find most attractive. Because just by standing next to him, I get the sense that his word is always the last spoken and his wishes the first ones to be fulfilled. He doesn’t ask, he demands. He doesn’t hope, he expects.
He’s quiet for a moment; his uncanny eyes hold me captive as though they are baring my soul to him and I hate it. I tighten my hold on the crystal flute. I want to look away, but I can’t. The way he’s staring at me makes me want to squirm.
“I wonder … do you have one?” he asks softly before turning to examine the piece of jewelry once more.
“A what?” I ask, momentarily stunned.
He smiles. “A price.”
“For the right amount … I just might,” I say quietly, my heart beating so fast it feels as though it wants out of my chest. As soon as the words leave my mouth, there’s no shock coursing down my body, no rolling waves of shame pulling me down for having said that to a complete stranger—nothing.
And why should there be? I am who I am.
I’m staring at his profile, waiting for him to acknowledge my answer, when a breeze of cool air floats past us, making me shiver. About to chase the goose bumps on my arm with my hand, I watch as he slowly turns to look at me, catching me staring at him. Time stands still as I watch him raise his large tanned hand and touch my bare shoulder, his fingertips lightly grazing the temporary small bumps covering it. Then he smiles as if he knows that my skin is tingling from his scalding touch, and looks away.
“I thought so.”
We remain standing next to each other for another minute or so, the distance between us almost nonexistent. It would be so easy to reach out and hold his hand. The sound of an incoming call breaks the silence, bringing us back to reality.
He takes his cell phone out of the inner pocket of his tuxedo jacket and ignores the call after noting the name of the caller. He lifts his gaze to meet my own.
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay. I should go … I’m here with someone,” I reply, not really wanting to leave him just yet.
“Yes, that’s probably a good idea.”
I frown. He didn’t have to be quite so blunt. The stranger extends a hand toward me, holding something in his fingers.
“Here … ”
I open my hand as I feel the edges of what I assume is his business card poke the skin of my palm. “What’s this?” I ask stupidly.
“My business card, of course.”
“Obviously … but why?”
He smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “Let’s just say that I’m an interested buyer.”
And then he’s gone.
He turns and walks away from me, disappearing into a sea of colorful gowns and black suits. As the sounds of the party infiltrate my ears once more, I lower my gaze to stare at the simple cream-colored card in my hand. Its simplistic and elegant design draws attention to the name printed in bold black letters on the paper.
I smile and let my fingertips trail his name. It depends on what you’re willing to pay, Mr. Rothschild.
I think it’s a true testament to this author’s writing when her stories feature highly unlikeable characters and boundary-pushing plotlines, yet I still crave more of her words and dive right in to her books. Either that or I’m a masochist. Probably both LOL! Anyways, after almost having a heart attack from reading the angsty Arsen, I was both nervous and excited to start this one as I knew Mia would bring her A-game. And boy, did she ever! Her books are not stories you just read. Nope. Doesn’t matter if you’re hating or loving the book, you feel, you experience, you rage or cry, and that my friends is not something any author can do. So in terms of engaging her readers, I say Mia Asher is an expert in this field. And while reading this particular book made me fall in love with her writing all over again, I still did have a couple of issues with the story that hindered me from completely loving it.
All her life, Blaire White has lacked for nothing except love. Her parents are distant and only care about their individual problems and with Blaire being chubby at a young age and bullied by others, having a beautiful, flawless body and savoring the attention that comes with it become her number one priority. As such, she locks away her emotions, hardens her heart, and in just a few years time lives a grand lifestyle while being a gold-digging bimbo catering to wealthy men’s sexual needs. But when she meets the kindhearted photographer Ronan she’s smitten and he with her, and for the first time in her life, Blaire feels loved and treasured, desired for her, not just for her body.
But at the same time, she can’t let go of her old routine that makes her feel secure and so she struggles between her feelings for Ronan and returning to her gold-digging ways.
I have to say that Blaire is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. Kudos to the author for tackling a story that centers around her but part of the reason why I can’t give this book a higher rating is because there’s a huge disconnect between me as the reader and her character. I honestly didn’t care what happened to her because she made several bad choices – fully knowing that the end result would be destructive – plus her character was inconsistent throughout the story. I was led to believe that this is a girl who’s the bitch (which she is by the way), the one no one roots for but enjoying every moment of it. However, that’s not really the case. She secretly desires to be loved and treasured not just for her looks but for her true self and when that does happens, she runs away from the guy. But then when she’s with a guy who just wants her for sex, these are her thoughts:
“They all want me; my body, my face, my mouth, but none of them want me.
“But what about love? … Don’t you want my love too?”
Get yourself together woman. But do you see? This kind of inconsistency scattered throughout the book really gave me whiplash. I did, however, love Ronan’s character and he definitely had a positive impact in Blaire’s life.
The overall story was compelling though, and the book itself is a fast-paced, quick read that’s a guaranteed page turner. I was a bit disappointed with the short book length so I wasn’t too surprised that the story ended on a cliffhanger. Just another reason why I couldn’t give a higher rating because I truly felt like this book wasn’t a complete story. With some books I can tell that a cliffhanger/abrupt ending is necessary as it’s part of the natural book flow but sadly in this story, it felt more like it was strategically inserted.
Easy Virtue is the first book in a 2-book series and isn’t a standalone. The story will be continued and concluded in the second book. Compared to Arsen the angst level is much lower but the steam level much higher and while there is no love triangle for most of the story, there is a hint at a possible one towards the end and perhaps in the second book.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.