Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this – one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.
When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.
Follow Elizabeth – code-named Scarlett – to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.
*I received an eARC via NetGalley from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
First and foremost I want to say that this was a difficult book for me to review. I was really hoooked by the blurb of Selling Scarlett, the story seemed intriguing and mysterious. I wanted to love this book, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t hate it but it definitely didn’t wow me. I had a few major issues with it that seemed to take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.
I thought the overall mystery aspect of the story was well done and was probably what kept me the most interested. There was corruption, blackmail, attempted murder, murder, sex-trafficking, and prostitution rings. It was basically a season of Law and Order all wrapped up into one book. I think the need to know what was going on with Cross’s accident and the pseudo-relationship between Priscilla Heat and Hunter was what really drove me to finish the book.
I was disappointed in this book because it could have been so many things. It really could have functioned as a mystery/thriller on its own but the romance aspect actually took away from the plot for me. I never felt a connection beyond the physical between Scarlett/Libby/Elizabeth and Hunter. I thought they were a bit grating, to be honest. I think if the romance had been handled better and didn’t feel randomly thrown in there I would have enjoyed it more. I find that generally humor is used to the lighten the darker parts of mysteries, but in Selling Scarlett, there was little humor and it seemed that sex scenes were used in place of humor to break up the tension.
Another issues I had was Elizabeth’s seemingly rash decision to sell her virginity. Need money fast? I’m going to sell my virginity to the highest bidder. I really didn’t care that she was selling of her virginity, it’s her virginity and her sexuality so all the more power for her to do what she wishes with it. I just thought the whole plan wasn’t really thought out very well. Seeing as she’s SURROUNDED by people with money, including her best friend Suri, wouldn’t it be more plausible to ask them for a loan or some financial assistance? I know there were reasons given for why she couldn’t or wouldn’t ask these people but they were weak at best.
The overall writing wasn’t too bad. I actually thought James did a really good job in that respect. I will say that the beginning was kind of a sprint with a lot of things going on, and I was immensely confused by parts of it, but about 1/4 of the way through things seemed to take on a nice pace.
I am a big lover of characters in books, so generally the characters will make or break the story for me. Honestly, there are a lot of characters in this book. I think there may have been a few too many for my tastes but I think that the main players were adequately developed. Elizabeth’s internal dialogue was a bit over the top at times but I didn’t think she was a bad character. I thought Hunter was interesting, I didn’t find myself swooning after him but I did feel empathy towards him and his situation. Honestly, my favorite characters were probably Suri and Marchant. I don’t know why but I thought they seemed like really loyal people and I was interested in reading more about them. I didn’t mind Cross, either. He seemed like a pretty decent guy and loyal friend.
Overall, I didn’t love Selling Scarlett, I think the first half was too rushed and affected my overall enjoyment of the story. The second half was a lot better and I’m glad I stuck it out but I wasn’t overly wowed by any parts. Some of the dialogue was a little ridiculous for my tastes but I powered through it. I did, however, enjoy the air of mystery around the plot; I just wish I had enjoyed the romance aspects a little more. Would I recommend this book? I do think that there are people out there that would enjoy this story more than I did. Will I read the next two books? I’m not rushing out to get them but I did notice that the next two books are Cross and Marchant’s stories which intrigues me.