I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ella is the Ice Queen but when she spots Sean at her friend's work, she feels the beginnings of a thaw. A backroom voyeuristic encounter has her wanting intimacies she's never craved before and learning Sean's second job as a prostitute, does anything but discourage her. For someone who hates to be touched, Ella's about to pay for the pleasure.
I knew all about sexual arousal. It fascinated and repelled me at the same time. I wanted him to touch me. Logically, I knew that. At the same time, the idea terrified me.
The first part of a three part serial, Thirty Nights with a Dirty Boy, introduces us to Ella and Sean. Sean is a bartender with Ella's friend and while we get delightful descriptions of his body, meaningful silences between his words and actions in regards to Ella, and the hint that he has sex with women for money, he remains a bit hidden. With a lack of full backstory and point of view, the reader instead learns and becomes endeared to him with how he treats Ella. This is a Walker book, so our emotional gut punch this time gets delivered through our heroine.
Nora's Door would provide a safe haven for abused kids, abused women, sexual assault victims, runaways---the people society sometimes wanted to forget. It was easier to forget them. Facing them meant facing the ugliness they'd faced. That wasn't something people enjoyed. But those of us who had been forgotten needed those safe havens.
The reader doesn't get to discover why Ella doesn't like to be touched or the reason behind her panic attacks, it's alluded to but that dark tale seems to be saved for the concluding parts. What we do learn here is that Ella is astronomically rich. Rich enough to start a large foundation for the lost and abused named after a woman we are told saved Ella when she was a child, donate large sums to hospitals, and offer to pay Sean $500,000 for thirty nights with him.
He picked up something from the couch, and I watched as he snapped open the sheath of pages he held. The contract. My breath caught. I didn't breathe as he signed it.
With Ella's money and vast resources, she likely would be the one in control but the power here firmly rests with Sean. Every move he makes is obviously carefully thought out, even when he is pushing Ella to fully become herself. There is tension, sexual push pull, and frustration as Ella physically wants Sean but mentally can't control her fear and confusion as to such new feelings while Sean is also hot for Ella but intelligently wary of her space and feelings. There's a hint here of their chemistry but there is also a lot of learning and physical exploration to be discovered. This first part will have your heart preparing to bleed for Ella and the childhood story left to be revealed and your body tingling for all that Sean can do for her in those thirty nights.