The Harlot, by Saskia Walker, is probably best classified as a Historical erotic romance, woven around a loose theme of mystery and revenge. The story takes place in 18th century Scotland, when the Witchcraft Act was in force, and females, accused of practising witchcraft, were being burnt at the stake. This book is the first in the Taskill Witches series by Saskia Walker.
Blurb from The Harlot:
Forced to watch her mother burn at the stake as a witch, Jessie Taskill was separated from her siblings in the aftermath. Jessie is similarly gifted, ripe with a powerful magic that must stay hidden. When she's accused by a rival of witchcraft, Jessie finds herself behind prison walls, awaiting certain death with a roguish priest unlike any man of the cloth she has known.
In reality, Gregor Ramsay is as far from holy as the devil himself, but his promise of freedom in return for her services may be her salvation. Locked into a dubious agreement, Jessie resents his plan to have her seduce and ruin his lifelong enemy. Especially when Gregor's lust for her is so compelling. She may agree to be his pawn even as she plots to use him just as he is using her.
This blurb is what I read when I applied for this book giveaway on goodreads.com. I figured it was going to be along the lines of the movie Pretty Woman, except with more mystery and adventure than just the simple 'love-hate-love' relationship. It was only after I received my very own author-signed copy of the book, that I read the author profile and realized that Saskia Walker is an established author in the genre of erotica.
We're not talking about Mills-n-Boons kind of amateurish sex scenes here, but the real stuff... adult stuff. So, while I was expecting a gripping suspense thriller, with a bit of sexually explicit content thrown in at a few places (considering the book is titled "The Harlot"), the book is, in fact, just the opposite! In simple words, it contains more of sex than of mystery!
I've been sitting on this book for over a month now, and managed to read just about 20% of it so far! (Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of this genre!) Nevertheless, from whatever little bit I have read so far, the plot seems engrossing, the writing seems unpretentious, and the two lead characters look quite convincing in their respective roles -- Jessie, undeniably 'the Harlot of Dundee', and Gregor, the wealthy man who's 'been there, done that'. I found some of the verbiage, used to describe certain body parts, a bit weird, but that might have been deliberate to represent the period and locale the story was set in.
I'm quite keen to find out what happens next in the plot and what role would Jessie's witchcraft play in it, but I'm really not game for all the "erotica" at the moment. And I realize that I wouldn't be able to give a fair review for a book in the erotica genre, if I skip all the erotica! Moreover, I feel that someone who is married/in a relationship (read: "adequately experienced"!) would be better able to assess this genre of writing... I'm finding it a bit difficult to relate to some of the scenes.
So, to make a long story short, I asked Shilpa if she'd be interested in reading and reviewing The Harlot in my place. It isn't compulsory for goodreads giveaway winners to review the books they win, but this book was shipped to me all the way from UK, and it made no sense to waste all that postage! Luckily for me, Shilpa agreed! Saskia Walker also gave her consent for this alternate arrangement. So I'm passing this book on to Shilpa now. I will update this post with a link to her review once she posts it on her blog.
[UPDATE: Here's Shilpa's review.]
My rating: ----- (Not giving any stars as I didn't complete the book.) The Harlot, by Saskia Walker, has received mixed ratings by readers. Even though I didn't finish the book, I have a feeling that readers, who have a stomach for such textual pornography, will love it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would also enjoy reading it someday.
Buy more books by Saskia Walker from: Flipkart | Amazon.in | Amazon.com
Disclaimer: This review is a part of the firstreads program at goodreads.com. I received a free copy of this book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.
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