Title: A Model Escort
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
House Line: Dreamspin Desires
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Designer: Paul Richmond
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Reviewed by Sammy
What’s the value of love?
Shy data scientist Owen Quinn is brilliant at predictive models but clueless at romance. Fortunately, a new career allows him to start over hundreds of miles from the ex he would rather forget. But the opportunity might go to waste since this isn’t the kind of problem he knows how to solve. The truth is, he’s terrible at making the first move and wishes a connection didn’t have to revolve around sex.
Cal Mercer works for the Nick of Time Escort Service. He’s picky about his clients and has never accepted a regular who is looking for companionship over sex—but can the right client change his mind? And can real feelings develop while money is changing hands? Owen and Cal might get to the root of their true feelings... if their pasts don’t interfere.
Owen Quinn doubts many thing except the scientific data he builds his career and reputation around. He doesn’t think his nerdy looks are particularly appealing and he certainly knows that given his past experience with love he’s not ready to embark down that path any time soon, if ever. Owen was used and hurt by the man he had given his heart to and who also took ownership of Owen’s brilliant ideas to further his own career. All that made Owen reluctant to trust any man ever again. Now in a new town and in a job that potentially could make him very wealthy, Owen needs a plus one for social events he must attend and is never comfortable in. When his sister slips a card to an escort agency in among the furniture catalogs she sent with him, he reluctantly orders up a man to help him navigate the awkward social events he must attend.
Cal Mercer has always been comfortable with the fact that he is a man for hire—and then some. He has a set of exclusive clientele who he services and he gets paid well to do so. When he gets a request from a new guy, he is surprised that their evening ends with simple cuddling and turns emotional for his client. There is something about “Scarlet”, as Cal has dubbed Owen, that forces Cal to reevaluate both the future of his current occupation. But can a relationship that began with paid comfort really communicate itself into a genuine friendship or even something more?
Author Amanda Meuwissen is new to me but I can tell you that I will most certainly be checking out her other novels soon. A Model Escort is a really lovely novel featuring an age gap romance with a sweet hurt/comfort trope thrown in for good measure. There is a very real connection that happens between Owen and Cal and a change in both their personalities that finds one stronger and the other doubting himself for the first time ever. To watch Owen regain his courage and discover his self-worth was really wonderful to see unfold but it was the dismantling of Cal’s iron fisted control on his emotions that really gave this novel an edge. I loved that the author chose to make both her characters undergo a metamorphosis, if you will, that made them truly become the beautiful couple they were in the end.
For some I can imagine this story could turn out to be a bit too much especially since Owen felt far younger than his twenty some years at the beginning of the novel. However, I defy anyone not to feel their heart strings properly tugged when Owen asks that Cal just hold him—nothing else and then falls apart at the gentle way in which Cal responds. That scene was truly beautiful to read. As the novel progressed I felt their age gap was really appropriate and played out well—especially since the author deliberately wrote in a team of friends and family who kept in constant contact with Owen to make sure he was doing okay and not caving into the loneliness he felt since leaving his bastard of an ex. Plus a more worldly or older character might never have had the poor self-esteem issues or self-doubts Owen had so again I felt the author created a character that was realistic and immensely likeable. Cal was a bit harder for me to key into but, that notwithstanding, he, too, had a depth that evolved throughout the story and made him more interesting as time went on.
I think the only thing I really struggled with was the idyllic nature of the town and it’s power players from the mayor on down. They were incredibly nice—a bit too nice, I think, making them the only implausible detail in the story. Had Owen had to work to earn their favor just a bit I think they may have come across as a little more real and that would have made the story more effective overall. Instead they almost bent over backwards to accommodate Owen and, despite that being understandable given his expertise, there was still the idea that other think tanks out there might have been able to do the same job as Owen was doing for them. However, for me, the romance aspect swept that aside pretty quickly and made it a negligible plot concern in the end.
A Model Escort was just the perfect age gap romance one could want if you enjoy the trope. I never felt that age was the stumbling block for the MC’s but rather their own insecurities and past experiences were the things that kept them from easily embracing the idea of falling in love. I’m glad to say that despite their misgivings the author gave them a lovely happy ever after in the end.
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