The Companion Contract
I occasionally need a break from standard romance fare. I love small town romances and romantic suspense with cops chasing baddies. I love wagering dukes and possessive wolf shifters. But conventional romance hasn’t been doing it for me lately. So I picked up a book about a porn star who signs a contract to serve as companion to a rock star attempting to recover from addiction.
When Amy Mendoza is summoned to a party to retrieve a friend who has overdosed, she encounters Emanuel de la Isla, the bassist for rock group Avert and a beautiful albino Afro-Colombian. As Amy attempts to remove her friend from the party, Emanuel steps in when partygoers fling insults and snap pictures of the pretty Filipina film star. Amy can’t forget his beauty and intensity, so when he contacts her with a business proposition, she is intrigued.
Emanuel’s band is getting back together for a new album and reunion tour, however lead singer Miles Morrison has battled severe addiction and is only tentatively sober currently. If Amy will serve as his sober companion, she’ll be compensated monetarily, have a place to stay for the summer, and get to go on tour with her favorite band. Amy agrees. Though she’s attracted to Miles, Emanuel is the guy she really wants.
What begins as a business arrangement for all parties develops into more as their lives become enmeshed. Amy is attracted to Emanuel and has loved the band’s music for years so initially it could be chalked up to physical attraction and hero worship. But over time as she sees the way Emanuel cares for his bandmates and family, her feelings evolve into something much deeper.
Clearly, this book is edgy. In a genre populated with virgin heroines, it’s a rare treat to find one who relishes sex and is unapologetic for it. Amy is one of my favorite heroines, ever. She’s tough. She has agency and isn’t afraid to use it. She knows who she is and makes no apologies for that. Amy is confident in and out of the bedroom. She’s a businesswoman who makes careful decisions about her career. There are aspects she doesn’t love, but she is unashamed of her accomplishments. She is simultaneously sympathetic and admirable. I loved her.
The entire cast of characters is well done. From messed-up Miles to his Xiomora, his transgender love interest, to Gabriel the ocelot and everyone else. There are no character stereotypes here. Instead, the author offers nuanced portrayals of individuals. After the last page, I instantly missed hanging out with them all.
The premise is a bit shaky in that Avert was apparently an underground type of band in the 90s, yet believe they can launch a comeback tour of the world. A tour of the magnitude they plan would be costly to stage and the story makes it clear that most of the band is not wealthy. Emanuel has built his own fortune as a music producer, but the seaside mansion they’re staying in is that of a friend and only a temporary arrangement. It would be difficult enough for even a largely successful rock band from the 90s to launch a comeback now. Hence, I had a bit of trouble buying into the setup.
Also, and this is very much personal preference for me, I did not find the sex scenes to be particularly erotic. I would have like to have seen a more sensual, less mechanical, approach. This may be due to the fact that Amy’s profession is in the sex industry, though the context makes it clear that what she does with Miles and Emanuel is more than just a regular day at the office, so to speak. Regardless, there is plenty here to steam up the screen of your ereader.
Minor quibbles aside, there is so much here to enjoy. I was sad to reach the end of the book, but I’m looking forward to future books in the LA Doms series.