A Pound of Flesh, by Sophie Jackson

A Pound of Flesh

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 58%

Catnip: Prisoner (Of Your Love); Ex-Con; Teacher-Student; Tattoos; Motorcycles; He’s Basically A Criminal; FanFic; Forbidden Romance; Red Hot Burning Shame; #FelonCrushFriday

Shame Scale: This would be low to medium shame, as it’s a pretty standard romance with lots of sex but a cover that could pass for nonfiction – except it’s TWILIGHT FANFICTION so I think we can safely go with Red Hot Burning Shame.

Fantasy Cast: Jay Ryan, Bryce Dallas Howard

What do we taste like: There were no words. “Perfection” seemed insanely inadequate

Book Description:

Orange Is the New Black meets Jennifer Probst’s New York Times bestselling Marriage to a Billionaire trilogy, featuring a strong-minded prison tutor who discovers that her sexy bad-boy student is far more than he appears to be.

Haunted by nightmares of her father’s street murder fifteen years ago, Kat Lane decides to face her fears and uphold his legacy of helping others by teaching inmates at a New York prison. There she meets arrogant Wesley Carter, who’s as handsome as he is dangerous, as mysterious as he is quick-witted, and with a reputation that ensures people will keep their distance.

As teacher and student, Kat and Carter are forced to leave their animosities at the door and learn that one should never judge a book by its cover. As Carter’s barriers begin to crumble, Kat realizes there’s much more to her angry student than she thought, leaving them to face a new, perilous obstacle: their undeniable attraction to one another.

When Carter is released and Kat continues to tutor him on the outside, the obstacles mount. Can they fight the odds to make their relationship work? Will Kat’s family and friends ever accept her being with someone of his background? And will Kat’s discovery of Carter’s role on the night her father died force them apart forever…or unite them?

So, I preordered this book on a whim. I had some money on a gift card that wasn’t tied to my regular budget so it basically felt like Monopoly money, and this book said fanfic. Fanfic books are total catnip for me – I read Anna Todd’s entire After series, and was at least 800 pages into it before Cleone informed me that it was motherfucking One Direction fanfiction. (You’re goddamn right I finished the series. It’s my greatest Shame of all.) This book? Is Twilight fan fiction. And that big orange 4.5 Million Online Reads! circle on the cover drew me in like the blue ribbon on a PBR can. Everyone else likes it right??? I am a marketing woman’s dream. Give something an obscure award, I’ll probably trust that I should buy it.

My initial problem with this book was that it’s about Carter, a surly prisoner and Kat, his tutor, and all the descriptions of Carter kept reinforcing my traitor brain’s assertion that Carter is the Hot Convict Jeremy Meeks, of the #FelonCrushFriday fame:

He was fine to look at with his buzz cut; wide, strong shoulders; two days’ worth of stubble; and long legs that stuck out from underneath the desk, but his attitude made him sharp around the edges. There was a dangerous aura around him that screamed No entry. She noted a lick of black ink poking out from the collar of his coveralls, curving up his neck.

His attitude made her want to rip the smug smile off his pretty face. And what a pretty face it was. The lashes that framed his baby blues were sickeningly long, lying on cheekbones that were sharp yet masculine. His mouth was plump in all the right places and puckered when he conjured up his smirk.

In other words, exactly like this:

meeks meme

I don’t know why by brain was so determined to ruin this book for me, but I worked really hard to get past it by looking at lots and lots of pictures of Jay Ryan, because the man can work a good scowl, and looks like he could play a pretty good prisoner.

jay ryan prisoner 2

The book itself is a semi-standard, highly emotional romance. Kat works at a prison teaching English Literature classes to inmates. She’s from a wealthy political family, and took the job as a way to do some good in the world (Her mom is less than trilled with her career choice). Carter is in jail for cocaine possession, and needs to take classes as part of his bid for parole. English Literature is the only class left that he has yet to be kicked out of, but he quickly remedies that on the second day of class by acting like an agro asshole and throwing a desk against the wall. Even though Carter has been nothing but obnoxious and stand-offish to Kat, she still feels that strange electric je ne sais quoi around him, and volunteers to tutor him one on one on her own time (for free, crazy girl), so he will have a shot at his parole.

Carter realizes that he has a traumatic childhood connection to Kat (I’m not going to spoil the secret, you’re going to have to read this one if you want to know, but it’s bananas). As their tutoring sessions progress, Kat finds herself becoming inappropriately attracted to Carter, and Carter is becoming obsessed as well. When he is eventually granted parole, they continue their tutoring sessions unchaperoned, and the romance between them grows even though Kat could lose her job and face legal charges for getting involved with Carter.

The sexual tension between the two is great – the forbidden romance aspect was really working for me. I love a book with an explosive home run, and this book did not disappoint. And Jackson strikes a good balance between plot and sex. There’s plenty of doing it in this one, without neglecting the story.

The story is pretty engaging, there are a lot of outside forces working against the couple – legal ramifications, family pressure, malicious villains, Carter’s old friends who are still involved in criminal activities. Because it was an impulse buy, I honestly thought that this book was going to be the first in a series and not a stand alone. So even up through the epilogue, I was all, “Wait for it, wait for it…” I was convinced that something was going to come back and muck things up for our couple like a horror movie villain who won’t die. So in a way, the ending was a total surprise for me since it was not actually a cliffhanger, and I fucking love it when a romance novel surprises me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, if a tad heavy and overwrought at times. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series, which features Carter’s friend Max.