Beautiful Entourage by E.L. Todd

Why would a successful, beautiful woman feel the need to employ a male escort? This contemporary romance explores the reasons.

What’s it About? 

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Being a professional escort comes with its vices. To keep women from getting too clingy, stop them from dropping their panties, and silence them before they can blurt the L word, Rhett has made certain rules. He never breaks them. Ever.

1. No Kissing.
2. No Feelings.
3. And definitely, absolutely, no sex.

But when Aspen, a beautiful brunette, hires him to help repair her image to her family, things get complicated. Rhett’s never had a problem separating work from pleasure. But now work and pleasure seem to be one and the same.

First Impressions

This book has everything I could possibly want when it comes to having a male escort as one of the lead characters. How did he ever make his way into such a career, and how is the exchange of funds managed to reduce the awkwardness? In this little diddy we get the full back story on how Rhett started his own escort service, as well as the typical day-to-day operations involved. In addition, throughout his dates with various women, and even a few men, I felt we could identify two primary reasons why someone who could obviously find a date on their own would go to such lengths as to hire a male escort. Sure, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but the vast majority seemed to fall within one of two categories.

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First and foremost, a woman is trying to get her family off her back for being single. My goodness can I sympathize with this. Maybe I should look into hiring an escort for my next trip home. I know it can be hard for some people to understand, but not everyone feels an immediate or intense need for companionship. It doesn’t make us bizarre weirdos, it just means we’re comfortable enough with ourselves to be alone with ourselves in our free time. The second apparent reason for the success of the male escort business is more about jealousy, specifically in order to make an ex jealous after a break up. As for our female lead in this book? She falls into the more popular first category: family pressure. Her father gives her an ultimatum. Either she finds a suitable man to appear with her at corporate functions, or she forfeits the possibility of ever being made head of the company she and her father work for. In a word, her dad is quite the ass.

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The Supportive Escort

You’d kind of expect that the mere fact Rhett is an escort would bring a kind of undeniable sensuality to their relationship. Something that pleasantly surprised me with this read was that while Rhett and Aspen are certainly drawn together, they succeed in building the foundations of a friendship first. They’re able to laugh and play with each other, whether it’s over a bowl of ice cream, or while engaged in a competitive game of Battleship. If anything, his job as an escort prevented things from moving too fast between them, or having their relationship be built solely around sex. Through the contract Rhett has devised for all of his employees, escorts are limited in their physical interaction with their clients, and can only go so far as holding hands, light caresses, and perhaps a kiss on the cheek. If they take their physical contact to the next level, or if either voices their true feelings for each other, their contract is immediately void.

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Rhett is determined to help Aspen succeed in obtaining her father’s business. Nothing like having a male escort as your primary cheerleader in life. In addition to his desire to see Aspen succeed, both Aspen and Rhett have come to appreciate the emotional connection they’ve developed through their friendship, and neither wants to lose the presence of the other in their life. Therefore, in order to ensure there is no breach of contract, they both keep quiet over the fact that they’re starting to feel something more. Considering there’s basically a “no sex” addendum to their budding relationship, I wondered if this simmering lust they couldn’t act upon would feel like the only reason they were inclined to pursue an actual relationship with each other. Thankfully, that was never the case here. Aspen wasn’t a conquest to be won. She started off the same as any other client, one Rhett couldn’t become romantically involved with. Only by spending more time together, having fun together do they establish a solid friendship which eventually ignites into a romance. It was truly a beautiful development.

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The Family From Hell

The main impetus behind Aspen’s father giving her this dating ultimatum was over the fact that her ex fiancé recently broke up with her in order to have sex, and eventually become engaged to, her cousin. When we look at the response of Aspen’s family and social circle of acquaintances to her break up, I must say it crossed the line into downright unbelievable. Now, I can kind of understand her dad’s initial response, even though it’s completely unforgivable and signifies an unloving father. He essentially sees her inability to keep a man, and the subsequent gossip surrounding the break up, as a stain on his own character. Losing face and what not. Again, not saying it’s justified, but I can kind of get why he’s upset his daughter, and therefore his family, are the talk of the town.

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The rest of the family though? Cheese and monkeys were they over the top. They seem to revile Aspen’s very existence, even though she was the one who was cheated on. Her cousin, Isabella, constantly mocks her, bragging about how she stole away her fiancé, and unlike Aspen she can keep him sexually satisfied. It’d be one thing if Isabella talked about how they couldn’t keep their feelings of love a secret any longer, or that they were destined to be together. But for her to brag over the fact that she was the one he chose to cheat with? Yeah, that’s the grounds for a really successful relationship (cue eye roll). She also goes out of her way to torment Aspen, which I guess can be a realistic situation, but for the rest of Aspen’s family to treat her as though she were trash? It just seemed like an entirely baseless kind of resentment. At one point Isabella practically forms a high school clique to make fun of Aspen, and in one scene declared “let’s go get her” before going out of their way to find and ridicule Aspen at a party. Her villainy was so cartoonish that we can practically picture her with devil horns and a tail. Again, a bit too over-the-top in my opinion.

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Series: Beautiful Entourage, book 1. I’ll be continuing with the series to hopefully enjoy the romances of Rhett’s other escort buddies.

Final Impressions: Overall I really enjoyed this one. It was entertaining, and I appreciated the development of Rhett and Aspen’s relationship from one that was kind of professional, to one of friendship, and eventually love. The only negative thing to point out in terms of the plot was that many of the dramatic elements were resolved almost too easily at the end. At one point I even remember thinking, “mkay are we gonna find out at the very last moment that this last chapter has all been a dream?” It was almost too perfect of a conclusion. That being said, this is still a fun read. Rhett and Aspen are an adorable couple, they both support each other wholeheartedly, and they’re close friends above all else.

Smut Level: I must say I was kind of disappointed we weren’t treated to a round of strip Battleship considering how often these two played it. Due to their professional contract, it does take a while for them to fall into bed together, but once they do it’s full of steamy passion.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Fallen Publishing. 313 Pages.

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