Life As I Know It:
Such was my life in fabulous Las Vegas. But what do you expect when you’re the daughter of a prostitute. This is not the life I want for myself, and I have a plan.
Life As I Want It:
Go to college.
Get my degree.
Get as far from Vegas as possible.
But life has other plans. Plans that include him. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses and even the best laid plans change.
This is my story. The story of a girl who thought she had it all figured out until life threw her a curve ball. My name is Presley and I refuse to be just another Working Girl.
Warning: If you read the synopsis, then you have an idea of the world this book explores. It is dirty and sad, at times. There is one scene involving her Mom that was very upsetting for me, but likely a common part of that world. This book does not gloss over the harsh realities of prostitution.
Now, that I have that out of the way, on to the review . . .
This story begins with a common theme, the poor virgin and rich manwhore, but then it takes it to the extreme. Presley, named after her Mom’s love of Elvis, was basically born and raised in a brothel. Despite being raised to follow in her Mom’s footsteps, she fights it tooth and nail. And fights to get out of that seedy world.
She survives day to day, taking classes at a local college. On just another one of her bad days, she meets Emerson, named after the poet, of course.
Although Presley fights Emerson’s advances, he is one persistent man. He shows her there is a better world out there and like Chrissy, her BFF, he convinces her that she deserves that world.
Emerson is a guy you want to add to your BBF list. While his attraction to Presley is obvious, he doesn’t push her physically and provides her with support on the darkest of days.
“. . . but maybe – just maybe – I actually see something in you. Something that makes me want to know you. Something that makes me think we can be better, together.”
“You don’t have to let your past define you, Presley. From the second I saw you, I knew you need my help. And call me a sucker, or an arrogant son of a bitch, but I can help you if you’ll let me.”
Although Presley has the comforts of school and a chance at love, how to escape the seedy world isn’t clear. She has the safety of her Mom and Chrissy to consider, along with no skills and income base to support a life on her own.
Her nights are dark, enduring the sounds and activities that occur at the brothel. Working as the “office manager”, she relies on Chrissy to make it thru each night.
Chrissy is the ultimate best friend. She uses her own body to protect Presley, while being a supporter for her to have a better life.
“You’ve got a lot going for you right now and you need to seize the opportunity. Be irresponsible. Be twenty-one, for God’s sake. Make mistakes. Take risks. Do something. Because watching you let it all pass you by is seriously pissing me off.”
Chrissy’s personality was intriguing to me. Although prostitution is a dirty thing, she generally seems to love sex and had an upbeat attitude, all things considered. I would have loved to get her POV to see if her positive spin was all just an act in order to keep Presley from becoming more depressed. But we are left in the dark on that.
The majority of this book was a 5 star read for me. However, my rating changed after the twist. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the twist, so crazy! I was eager to see how it would all play out. Unfortunately, the drama of the twist was resolved too quickly, in my opinion. It was almost as if the author was rushing to finish the book.
I was also surprised that the author made no mention of Emerson’s friends and how they reacted to Presley. I would have expected some drama as her secrets are revealed, but there wasn’t any. Maybe at that point, the author wanted to cut her heroine some slack. ???
“You haven’t broken me at all. You’ve put me back together.”
Overall, while there were some parts of this book that were hard to read, as thankfully I’ve never had direct exposure to that dark world, the author did a great job of bringing you into that world. And you are drawn thru the story, hoping Presley finally escapes to get her HEA. Which she does. It isn’t an easy or pretty escape, but there is hope for her in the end.
“Life is meant to be scary, Presley. But you’ve gotta take the chance every now and then. Lie down and accept its splendor.”
*An ARC was received for an honest review.
“Chrissy!” I whine.
She laughs and lies down next to me. “Stop thinking, Pres. Live. Let him in. You deserve to have someone else on the inside. You have way too much beauty locked up in there to not share it. Whether or not you want to believe this, you have so much to offer someone if you would just take the chance and let someone else in. Trust me, I know what is behind those carefully constructed walls, and it’s amazing.”
If it were possible to look more like a goldfish I’d be stunned. Living this life has made Chrissy hard-faced, and although she is forever telling me she loves me, and that I’m worth more than I believed, I’ve never heard her speak with such conviction before. The problem with keeping yourself locked up tight and spending most of your time alone is that the thoughts and opinions you have about yourself fester. They fester and grow and seep into every aspect of your
being, until one day, you wonder how it is that you even managed to get one true friend. Even then, I managed to convince myself that had we not been born into the same life, that there’s no way Chrissy would have wasted her time on me.
She thinks so, but up until now I haven’t been so sure. We’re just so different.
She exudes confidence, whereas I shy away from life. She walks into a room and commands attention; I am more than happy to sneak in via the fire exit, just to make sure no eyes are on me.
Chrissy’s eyes shimmer with tears and I know that she not only means what she is saying, but that it means something to her that I believe her. This beautiful broken soul has believed in me for so long that I owe it to her, and to myself, to allow her words to take hold of me. I reach for her hand, unable to form words eloquent enough to tell her how much she has done for me, how much she has given me. I look into her eyes and I try, with everything I am, to convey what I
feel burning in my chest. I am enough.
A moment passes between us; a moment too special to mar with anything but silence. When Chrissy sniffs and shifts in her seat, I know she’s ready to move on. And I know just how.
“He’s asked me out for coffee tomorrow,” I say quietly. “What should I do?”
“Meet him. Meet him tomorrow, and every day after that.”
“But . . .” I start to argue. Getting involved with Emerson is dangerous for both of us. Someone is bound to get hurt.
Chrissy reaches out and softly places her hand over my mouth preventing me from talking anymore. With her free hand she snakes underneath my pillow and grabs my cell phone before handing it over to me. “Stop thinking, and just say yes.”
About A. E. Woodward
A.E. lives in Vacationland with her husband and two children. Between her real job and writing she finds little time to enjoy life’s finer things. However in the free time she does manage to steal, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, and reading. A.E. is the author of Kismet and A Series of Imperfections: Imperfectly Perfect, Imperfectly Real, and Imperfectly Bad. Working Girl is her fifth book.