Feb 13, 2014

A Semblance of Innocence by Caye Collen *Review*

Elise Shumperk is a promising senior at Georgetown University, even if she's also lonely and unable to connect with people. Then, as she begins her final semester, a set of events lead her to become incapable of paying for school, or for anything else. Desperate, she reluctantly sells herself. Though not to just anyone, but to the most beautiful man she's ever seen—a man who just might become the next president of the United States. And their relationship quickly develops from simple heart-stopping sex to something approaching love.

Which is when her real problems begin.

I received a copy of this story for an honest review.

Elise Shumperk has a bright future ahead of her. A senior at the top of her class at Georgetown, Elise knows she’s got a great shot securing a coveted internship for Senator Mitch Roethe, a position that will lay the groundwork for a career in politics. What she didn’t count on was her father stealing millions of dollars and the FBI freezing all of her assets. Faced with getting kicked out of Georgetown for lack of tuition and losing her internship, Elise turns to The Girls Next Door, an elite agency that provides full perks physical companionship to some of Washington D.C.’s most powerful men.

Senator Mitch Roethe has a wealthy wife, beautiful children and is in line for the presidency. The only problem is that he feels absolutely nothing. In desperation he turns to The Girls Next Door hoping one of their special ladies will ignite something in him. What he didn’t count on is the consuming lust he begins to feel for his assigned girl. He brushes off the feeling that he’s seen her before and focuses on getting as much play time with her as possible. 

What worked – Author Caye Collen sets a great scene. I could see Elise and Mitch maneuvering around Washington D.C. with its various power players. Also the assignments where Elise and Mitch meet up to play are well written and convey a dark desperation in each of the leads.

What didn’t work – A Semblance of Innocence disturbed me and left me feeling slightly unpleasant after I finished the story. The decisions and actions of the characters were so confusing and inconsistent that I couldn’t form an emotional connection to any of them. At times the plot would veer in a direction that contradicted a scene that just happened. I struggled to make the story work for me and in the end I found I couldn’t.

The idea that a brilliant young woman at one of the most prestigious Universities in the country can only save herself from a financial crisis by selling her body – I was willing to go with it for the sake of story. That the john she gets chosen for would be America’s sweetheart Senator who the heroine happens to have an internship lined up with – still following but starting to stretch. Instantaneous love/obsession followed by the blatant sabotaging of said heroine’s education and future that she was willing to sell herself for – nope, you’re losing me. Multiple hot encounters but the second the possibility of being together for real happens both immediately lose attraction and they can’t make it work physically – I’m done. 

Elise and Mitch are so devoid of feeling and hot and cold in their physicality, as the story progressed I found I didn’t care if the wound up together or not. This turned out to be good in the third act when a new love interest, Ian, is introduced. The introduction of the love triangle (or actually love pentagon since the Senator is married with kids and his assistant is also in love with him) seemed sudden and out of place with the majority of the story. 

One other small problem I had is that the story is told in multiple POV’s – Elise, Mitch, Ian, and Mitch’s right-hand woman Deborah. At times I found the transition jarring and I’m not sure that everyone needed a say in telling the story. There is a plot thread about Deborah’s obsession with Mitch and her rage at his relationship with Elise that I felt detracted from the overall story.

Author Caye Collen paints vary vivid pictures and somewhere there is someone that A Semblance of Innocence may speak to. That said I personally did not enjoy it and I cannot recommend it.

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