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Book Review: Escapade, by Dolce

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Twenty-nine-year-old Lucas Thompson is at the top of the corporate ladder. But when his lifelong friend and ex-boyfriend invites him to his last-minute destination wedding in the Bahamas, Lucas realizes his corporate success can’t hide his private loneliness. Nor will he be able to escape seeing his family at the wedding—and having to explain, yet again, why he’s rich, handsome… and still single.

Fate and a taxi ride change everything when Lucas meets the charismatic and clever Jack McQueen, who just so happens to be a male escort. Jack’s presence on Lucas’s arm at the wedding keeps questions at bay, but their pretend relationship turns into something more after ten days of sun, sand, and sex. And before the trip is up, both men will discover that what started as a simple escapade in paradise might just lead to their very own happily ever after.

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Book – Escapade

Author – Dolce

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 380

Cover – Pretty, if vague

POV – 3rd person, alternating

Would I read it again – Yes

Genre – LGBT, Romance, Escort

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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Escapade is a riot of fun, laughter and some serious sizzle.

From the minute I started reading to the minute the story ended, I don’t think I stopped smiling or laughing out loud. Whether the funny parts are just utterly hilarious or not, the jokes were right up my alley, the humour was on point and perfectly tallied with my own. And, finally!, a British cast. I so miss the Brits, especially when everything finally makes sense (football being football, maths having an s on the end). Thank you for that alone.

When it comes to the characters, I have to admit that I fell for Lucas right away. That fishing story in the boardroom let me know that he was a shark, with a great sense of humour and was really great at his job. Then, later, after a few encounters with Jack, it was so refreshing to discover that he’d also this sad little puppy. He’s been kicked a few times, but he’s got all this love bottled up, ready to share with the right person, under the right circumstances. So he’s hardened himself against everything else in life, other than his pug George, until that happens.

As for Jack, I absolutely got the impress (before it was mentioned) that he was a total mix of Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks. Then, when that comparison was made, I was vindicated. That’s who he is and that was how he came across. Then, later, when we find out more about who he really is, I loved that his entire personality changed. Just like Lucas, he was hiding the true part of himself, not for someone special in particular, but simply to protect himself.

If you think I’m gushing, you’re probably right. This book is a big length. At over 300 pages, it’s not a one-sitting read, but I devoured it in one day, reading as and when I could slip in a few pages. It was that addictive.

So, you might have read the blurb and thought “Escort? That means a Pretty Women remake.” right? Well, on most other books of this genre that I’ve read, you’d be right. Not on this one. There isn’t one instance that happened in Pretty Women that is regurgitated here. Not. One. In fact, the two are so polar opposite that I did a little Hallelujah at the 20% mark, when it became clear that they were going to have nothing to do with each other. This story is just THAT original.

Underneath the giggles, the quirky characters and the impressive one liners is a serious undertone about self belief and reliance. There’s an impression of both MC’s having been hurt in the past and trying desperately to keep a brave face, so that no one knows. So, although I laughed out loud a lot, I was also near to tears a lot. Because, let me tell you – the feels! The feels this book has are just incomprehensible.

I love the way that Dolce sympathetically tackled the rent boy/high class escort aspect. Jack is a professional, with clients of all tastes, and the story tackles Lucas’ misconceptions about the profession nicely. I thought Jack’s set up – background checks, NDA’s, security band, phone calls, referrals and such – was all very realistic, logical and plausible in this day and age. Nothing about what he did seemed invasive or ridiculous. All of it was done to protect himself and his clients, not only from themselves but from each other.

When it comes to the relationship aspect, between Jack and Lucas, I absolutely loved that we had 80% of a story. A REAL story, that brought two complete strangers to an HEA, without being forced, impossible or ridiculous. The progression of their acquaintance to curiosity, to trust to friendship, and right through to attraction and love, was so perfectly balanced, even though the actual events only took place over a five day period. There was no insta-love here, just an instant attraction that was allowed to grow into more.

There was flirting, intimacy and a whole lot of friendship blooming, all throughout the story. With awkward moments (of the naked-in-school nightmare kind) and the purely torturous moments of an embarrassing family meeting someone new, there was nothing light and fluffy about this. Things went wrong. Lucas and Jack saw each other at their worst. Lucas never treated Jack like a hooker or someone being ‘bought’ for his company and Jack never treated Lucas like a meal ticket or tried to take advantage. As two businessmen, they came into this agreement like sharp nosed lawyers, making a binding contract with one another. Nothing more, nothing less. There was respect and a very healthy dose of secret attraction, but for a long time it was all business, as it should be for them both.

There were some really awesome conversations, that had me in stitched – like discussing their fake relationship details, Lucas’s mother!, the bedtime story. They all hit me in different ways. Lucas’s mother was, however, the most frustrating character, because she kept getting in the way and stopping me from finding out things for a while. She was also a little crazy and unhinged, like a lot of the Thompson family. Saying that, Zamir and Cillian are pretty nuts, too.

The banter is so much fun, the slow sizzle of chemistry constantly had me on my toes as to when things were going to happen and it was just so nice that these two strangers could come together and feel comfortable enough to be themselves. There were no expectations, right from the start, and that allowed these two guys to learn a little something about themselves and about each other. They see each other at their worst and it doesn’t matter, because they’re in this together.

Albert! Oh, gosh. I loved Albert. If he wasn’t straight and taken, I would have loved for him to get with Lucas. They worked so well together and he was adorable! I did love how he was woven into the advancement of the plot, as well, because it made perfect sense! And it took me by surprise, which isn’t easy to do.

The Zill-ympics. What can I say? They were hilarious, kind of gross and really fun to read. The whole thing might have seemed like a great bout of laughter for the story, but it showed me a lot about the characters and what Dolce was trying to achieve with the story. Similarly, the bedtime story and the asthma party, were just as illuminating, if much more powerful scenes.

Now, for the part that some people will grip over – the sex. It’s a slow burner. A really slow burner. The first bout of MC sex enters in at 80%, though there’s some fooling around before that and plenty of chemistry to make that fact obsolete. It was right for these characters and I’m not going to say any more about it.

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Overall, the entire plot and charactersation was well though out, planned ahead and set up in great detail. There were no plot holes and, despite some grammar/spelling errors, the story was perfect. I learned everything I wanted to know and got to enjoy some really classic – but realistic – romantic moments in the process.

That epilogue! It was perfect. And the soundtrack? Thank you! I love soundtracks.

This isn’t your traditional romance. But it’s probably the most real one you can pick up to read on your Kindle. There’s weird, awkward moments, secret feelings, damaged pasts and kooky characters. But there’s also tenderness, moments of truth, realisation and so much more.

Pick it up. I promise you won’t be disappointed. This is a slow burn romance that keeps sizzling right until the end. So, if you want to find out whether Jack and Lucas got together, you’ll have to get your own copy and read it. Because I’m not telling.

Most importantly, this is the most bang up, incredible wedding event in the universe and I was so thrilled to be there and be included in it. Now, I wish I could go to one exactly like this, for real. Oh, and can I have another one please? Another book with Lucas and Jack? Pretty please?

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Favourite Quote

Now, fair warning. […] < this means that I’ve left a line out of the quote. This is for very important reasons, namely being that it will ruin everything, if you intend to read the book. Which you should. So, to make sure you do, I’m leaving you with a half finished quote. Enjoy.

““I hate karaoke.”

“Then why did you do it?” […]

“Because I love you. And sometimes the scary stuff turns out to be the best.”

“Like naked cliff jumping?”

“Like falling in love.””

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