Contractual by Alice Tribue

This is not a storyline that you will be unfamiliar with, but that is not detrimental to the book or the characters in any way because it was a good story, well told.

The fairytale feel of the book was played out well, with characters that were easy to like in some cases straight of the bat and others that set your teeth on edge initially but through much coaxing and persuasion find their way to fulfil everything you hope and wish from them.

Life has treated Sage to a sea of misery that is just about ready to engulf her, moving from a family that could barely be described as normal, she moved in with her sorry excuse of a boyfriend until  she caught him in the act with the next door neighbour. Misery loves company so they say, well they were best friends in Sage’s life because she had little to be cheerful about – no home, no money and to complete the trilogy, she loses her job. So all alone with nothing and no-one to her name, she has little left to hold on to.

Needs must, and with no options open to her, she applies for a new job, not one that she really wants to do because it she has no desire to sell herself to pay her way in the world but with limited choices she takes the role. The only saving grace was the fact that she would be allocated her own client – one and only one that she can walk away from if she wants.

So who does she get, well let’s just say that he wouldn’t win any popularity contests. Jackson Stone may have millions in the bank but that is all that matters to him, relationships are a no go area – he will put no effort into something that only matters to those who look from the outside in – he is expected to take a partner to events etc., so Jackson pays to have a woman at his beck and call for not just the social niceties but to service his physical needs. Unfortunately that woman is Sage.

But can this woman show him that there is more to life than what he has? Can she show him that what he has is empty because he has no-one too share it with. Jackson has his eyes opened by this beautiful woman, her beauty shining from the inside out.

I liked Sage, she deserved my sympathy but her character never expected it. She fought hard to make it through each day. She had a lot of hard times that she refused to let define her. Her naivety in some situations was funny and endearing in equal measure. When the penny dropped at her interview, I couldn’t help but smile.

Initially Jackson was a grade one ass to her and for that I took an instant disliking to him, she was struggling to deal with the enormity of their first meeting and the expectations of what was to happen and all he could do was to be completely dismissive and horrible to her. But I had a tiny little niggle that he was hiding something, I mean no-one could be that much of a prick through nothing other than choice, there had to be catalyst.

What I discovered as I read on was almost a touching as Sage’s story. Jackson was a product of a dysfunctional family- parents who had never shown what it was like to love someone – his mother moved on from him and his dad to a man with money and means and left his father bitter, refusing to show any affection to women. Jackson never knew what was expected of him, it was monkey see, monkey do – and once that became apparent, my heart went out to him. It didn’t excuse his behaviour but it explained it.

He took his own sweet time when it came to accepting how he felt about Sage and but his hostility and downright narkiness was a defence mechanism and in many ways, Sage had the patience of a saint to continue to put up with him, after all she could have called and end to their arrangement.

Overall the story was confidently written, it travelled well through the tribulations that they both had not only previously but together. The sex was aptly included and served its purpose perfectly.

The relationship between them was one sided initially but it was fascinating to watch the dynamic shift and their relationship evolve.

A good story, travelling a well-worn path but with credit and determination to stand tall from the others that had gone before it

Give Jackson a go – he is worth the effort.