*Helping Hand is the first in the series. This story is a spin-off and both books can be read as standalones.
Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debt. Focused on his goals, he pays his way by working as an escort. He enjoys the no-strings sex because he doesn’t have time for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.
When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should’ve known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him he has an inheritance to fund his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT support wouldn’t cover the cost.
With each encounter the lines get blurred, creating something that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction. But they come from different worlds, and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.
“I like your lip ring,” Rupert said. His gaze dropped lower to Josh’s collarbones. “What are your tattoos of?”
“Swallows.” Rupert would just be able to see the wing tips that showed in this low-necked T-shirt. “Two of them.”
“Have you got any other tattoos?”
Josh gave a slow, teasing smile. “Maybe. Do you want me to show you?”
Rupert met his eyes again. There was a flicker of uncertainty before he answered. “Yes. I’d like that.”
Josh turned over the possibilities in his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had sex for anything other than for money. He usually saw clients at least three nights a week. They scratched the itch for him, and he didn’t have the time or inclination to hook up with other guys. He hadn’t dated since he’d started working as an escort. Josh didn’t like lying about his job, but most guys didn’t want to date escorts.
It would be easy to pick Rupert up tonight, though, and have no-strings sex with him for fun rather than cash. But Josh’s rent was due.
“Me too. But it’ll cost you,” he finally said.
Rupert frowned, obvious confusion crossing his features as he tried to make sense of Josh’s words. “What? I don’t—”
“You’re hot, and I wish I could do this without asking you for money. But a client let me down this evening. I have a hotel room booked and paid for next door, and I need someone to cover the cost for me.” The lie came smoothly. “I can’t afford to have sex for free tonight.”
Rupert’s mouth dropped open. Shock was evident on his face, but there was something else that was harder to read. His cheeks flooded pink again and his eyes went dark. “You’re….” His voice came out husky, and he cleared his throat. “You’re a….”
“A sex worker. An escort, to be precise. Hooker, rent boy, you get the gist. I’m an expensive one too. But my clients think I’m worth the money.” Josh waited, tension making a muscle tick in his jaw as he forced himself to stay still and hold Rupert’s gaze. On the occasions he’d tried picking up clients face-to-face, their reactions had varied. Interest, anger, excitement, disgust… he’d seen them all. He steeled himself, ready for rejection.
Rupert licked his lips. “How much?” he finally asked.
In Helping Hands we met Josh as the roommate of Jez and Mac. He’s known in the house as a “player”, but in reality, he’s a rent boy. So each night out he works hard for the money in order to go to university. His parents are out of the picture and he doesn’t want student loans.
Rupert is a shy IT guy who normally has a hard time meeting people. When he’s stood up at the same bar as Josh one night, the two strike up a conversation. When Josh makes it clear that he’d love to spend more time with Rupert, but it’ll cost him, something takes over Rupert and he finds some new-born confidence.
The sex is phenomenal and both parties are left a bit shaken. They quickly make plans to be together again, and again, and again. Though there is always an exchange of money, it begins to feel wrong as their emotions get involved.
Finally, on a long “working” weekend where Josh poses as Rupert’s boyfriend, the lines get so blurry as to be non-existent between “client” and “lover”.
This book was another wonderful example of Jay Northcote’s ability to give us a very sweet romance, no matter the circumstances. Yes, there were times when I wished she’d delved a bit deeper into the emotional impact Josh’s job had on both parties, but I appreciated that from early on Josh admitted to fantasizing about Rupert while with his other “clients”.
I think that – if you can believe it- there was more sex in this story than needed to be. I wanted to have more of an emotional connection between these guys than I saw on page. Yes, they did do some other, non-sex related things with each other, but I didn’t get to see enough of it to really buy into their HEA.
Rupert is a super sweet MC and though Josh isn’t a bad guy, I didn’t ever see him as being quite “worth” of Rupert… he just needed to spend more time with the guy as himself, not as his escort.
That being said… I enjoyed reading this and the writing was excellent – as always – and I will certainly look forward to any more books in this series.
3.5 of 5 stars
(Copy provided by author for review)
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.