Wednesday, April 26, 2017

[Review]: "By the Hour"

romance novel covers, contemporary romance, contemporary erotica, Royal Pick, By the Hour by Roni Loren
By the Hour by Roni Loren
Publisher: Roni Loren (April 25th, 2017)
Series: Pleasure Principle, 2
Genre: Contemporary Erotica

From the New York Times bestselling author of Off the Clock comes a story of love, hate, and the fire that ignites when the two collide... 

Dr. Elle McCray has a plan. Work hard. Be the best. And do it alone. After her ex-husband’s betrayal, she’s learned being feared is a hell of a lot easier than being humiliated. So when trouble personified, Lane Cannon, dares to flirt with her, she shuts him down cold. Too gorgeous. Too cocky. And his job as The Grove’s sexual surrogate is to sleep with patients. No, thank you.

Former escort Lane Cannon has spent enough years with people looking down on him. Stupid. Trailer trash. Rent boy. He’s heard it all. He’s worked too hard to shed his past to let some haughty doctor cut him down. But something about Elle’s ice queen act has his dominant instincts perking up and his body taking notice. He can’t walk away.

After an evening of verbal sparring turns into a night of steamy hate sex, Lane’s ready for round two. But Elle proposes a business deal. How better to keep things strictly physical than to pay him for his services? 

Lane wants her, not her money. But he’ll play along in exchange for one thing—all the control. It’s only supposed to be a dirty little fling between colleagues, but these two are about to learn a lesson in love…by the hour. 

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Reviews of Loren's Previous Novels:

Yours All Along (#7.5)
Loving You Easy (#9)


My Review:

She was so used to people deferring to her, being exceedingly polite, being professional because she was a doctor, because she was a boss, because she was in charge. Because she could be a scary bitch and didn’t apologize for it. But with that one look, Lane had thrown down the challenge. You don’t intimidate me, doctor. You don’t impress me. Just try and play those games and see what happens.

It had been further proof that her wires were tangled now when it came to sex and men. Other women wanted romance, sweetness, love. She’d been that way once upon a time. Her ex-husband had promptly burned that fantasy to the ground, exposing it for the sham it was. Window dressing on lies. Now, she got turned on by the thought of a good hate fuck. Those were honest. Those were real. Pure physical release. And everything in that look that day had said that Lane was more than capable of hating her right into a screaming, begging-for-more orgasm. 


By the Hour is another “this is kind of different and it may not work for you” reads. I loved it, but I know that some may not be comfortable with the hero’s profession (both in the past and current). Note: there’s nothing WRONG with sex work, and the stigma society has on it is BS, but I digress.

Elle and Lane both work at the same elite mental health facility (think one that caters to stars and the very rich). Elle is a doctor, and the main boss over her wing of the facility (rehab), while Lane works in the X-Wing and is a sex surrogate.

Now, I’m not really familiar with what a sex surrogate is, which is the case with many readers, I’m sure, and it’s not really talked about in depth during the book as to what all he does for his patients, just alluded to. He’s constantly reminding people that he can’t speak about his patients or what he does for them, so the reader is left with the vague understanding of what he does, but no real details. Which is probably for the best anyway. In short, he works with women who have problems sexually (orgasming, confidence/body imagine, and so on). He makes it clear, multiple times, that what he does is purely professional.

You might be asking how he found such a job, which is where his past profession comes into play: Lane was an escort for years. Kicked out of his house at 16, he took to the streets – literally – before slowly finding his way into an escort agency that allowed him to work with the wealthy women. He’s not ashamed of what he did, or of what he’s currently doing as a sex surrogate (note: only his main boss, and Elle, know about his past, though yes, some have made snide gossip that he must have been a hooker before this job). Besides working at the facility, he’s also in school to become an actual counselor; he enjoys what he does, but it’s not his end game, and he’d like to be able to offer his patients more. Lane always had difficult in school, and that difficulty has not gone away, making his journey to get his degree slow, with the threat of failing out of the program constant. His difficulty is addressed later in the book, so I won’t ruin it all here in my review.

"You don’t even like me.” 

“No. I don’t.” She closed her eyes for a second, trying to regain her breath, and whispered. “That’s the best part.” 

The confession slipped out and he tipped his head as if he were processing her words, assessing her. But then his thumb pressed against her spine. “I promise you. That definitely won’t be the best part.” 

Her neck felt hot, the air in the room thick. “No?”

He bent close to her ear, his scent drifting over her. “No. The best part will be when I’m deep inside you and you’re riding your edge, begging for this guy you hate to give you exactly what you need, to drive you so out of your mind that you have no choice but to forget everything except the way I’m fucking you and how good it feels and how much you want it."

Their story starts with a one-night stand that was inevitable – the two throw sparks whenever they’re in the same room, but they also throw jabs. It’s quite literally a hate-fuck dynamic at first, though it’s 100% consensual, I assure you. They can’t stand one another, but in this one area, in the privacy of a bedroom, they can’t fight that attraction. Even so, it’s not like they’re suddenly cuddly and sweet when alone. Oh, hell no. They may not be able to turn away from the sexual pull, but they don’t back down, either, still sparring and clashing all the way to the post-orgasm glow.

I loved their dynamic, their banter and chemistry and delicious friction. Lane is a dominant, but Elle is no submissive. However, when they’re together, she somewhat submits to him, while still maintaining her own strength and dominance, too. Needless to say, it causes a ton of heat. I mean, A FUCKING TON. And because it’s Roni Loren, you bet your ass it’s A++ dirty-smutty-goodness going on here.

Seriously, 90% of the quotes I shared are from sex scenes. I REGRET NOTHING.

Stop me before I start sharing all the dirty quotes, otherwise we'll be here all day.

Let's move on to the disgusting ex instead.

“What the hell did you get them?” She adjusted her seatbelt and smoothed her expression. “A nutcracker.” 

Lane’s eyes lit with amusement. “Nice. A metaphor to your ex?” 

She smirked his way. “No, I’m not that subtle. It’s a straightforward fuck you. Henry’s allergic to nuts.”

Part of why they clash comes back to Elle, and the troubles she has with trust and opening up, thanks to her Uber Dickhead of an ex-husband. While they were married, he cheated on her, which is bad enough. But hold on, it gets even better. He had unprotected sex the whole time he was cheating – and then literally went from the other woman’s bed back to Elle’s. Without even showering. The sick fuck then got off on having her suck him off. Yes, that’s right, suck the dick that just came out of another woman’s vagina. Elle, of course, didn’t know this at the time, but put the pieces together later, and (I think) had it confirmed by said Dickhead ex. But wait, I’m not done! The other woman he cheated with? Elle’s little sister. And after the divorce went through, the ex and the sister got engaged.

So. Yeah, Elle has some understandable baggage from all that. The fact that Lane is working as a sex surrogate causes problems when they do try to have a relationship later in the book, because even though she knows that what he does is a professional therapy approach, a part of her still sees it as another form of being cheated on, of not being enough for the man that’s supposed to care for her. I won’t ruin how this is fixed, but in the end, it is, it just takes a bit of angst and fighting to get to their HEA, and I thought Loren handled it all well.

“She begs,” he said softly. 

For once that didn’t trigger her defiant genes. It no longer felt like losing a game. She could ask for what she needed from Lane without consequences. They were in this together. Both enjoying themselves. No shame. No apologies for what felt good to them. They could have their combative sex. They could play roles. But sometimes, she could just give in and let go. She was free.

These two must constantly work through their shit, both as individuals and as a (potential) couple. It’s definitely erotica not because of the heat level – which I already said is off the charts – but because their story and character development is as much due to the plot as the sex. Which is another thing that Loren does very, very well. Here she gives us two people who are not shy in their sexuality but must still learn how to balance sex, intimacy, trust, and friendship as they do this not-really-together-but-not-strangers-who-hate-each-other-anymore-either dance. And it’s so, so good. And sexy. And satisfying.

“Doc, you realize that I never wanted you different, right? Who you are was always what drew me back to you. I like how determined and tough you are. I like that you don’t take any bullshit and push back. I like that your kink is my kink. I like you because you’re different.”

Loren once again gives the reader a complex and unique romance that scorches with its intensity and teases with its tension. Take an older heroine who’s trying to recover from being betrayed by an ex (and her family) and a slightly younger hero whose life has been all about sex but who wants to reach for something more, throw in banter and hate-fucking that slowly turns into their own mutual kink, add in a brief period of fake-relationship, as well as some realistic conflict on the road to a HEA between two people who refuse to back down, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfectly dirty, perfectly satisfying read. 

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the author, via the blog tour company.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Roni Loren; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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There's a giveaway for this tour -- win a $25 AMZ GC!

If you want to read more of the quotes I highlighted, check out my Twitter! There are a TON.

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on April 27th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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