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PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: “With or Without Him” by Barbara Elsborg


“The most dangerous refuge could be his lover’s arms. ”

Everyone has at least one deep-seated fear. For Tyler, it’s being in debt. He’s so desperate to get out and stay out of it, he’ll do almost anything-including selling his body at Saturday night sex parties.

But he refuses to open his mind to anyone, especially the men paying to use him however they want. The only time he’s truly happy is during the week at college, when he can escape into his music.

The moment Haris sees Tyler playing piano at a concert, he falls hard, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the guy his. Even if it means-for the first time in his life-opening his wallet as wide and desperate as his heart.

20,000 to live with a good-looking guy for four months? How can Tyler resist the chance to ditch the sex party scene for good? But neither man realizes how much they’re risking. And when outside forces close in, ready to destroy them, the trickiest part about the next four months could be just surviving.


Ooh it’s like the M/M version of Pretty Woman… kind of.  Barbara Elsborg lifts the rating to XXX and explores the dark drama of high class prostitution in London whilst gingerly flirting with the edges of BDSM and dub-con.  The styling of this (much darker) pretty woman trope was really cool, I liked it.

Tyler (who sells himself on a Saturday night to escape debt) made me laugh and made me ache for him. He is so damn beautiful (like a vampire) and vulnerable. The poor guy wars with his morals, his reason, his shame and his wild libido when donning the wings of an angel and crawls on his knees for cash. God!  I could kill for him! I was instantly possessive and defensive of Trey so seeing him at his lowest, being handled by cruel greedy hands was not easy, I could have cried …

But he has hope – a hero! A white knight that charges in to the rescue! YAY!  I LOVED this part so much I almost started clapping. Haris is beautifully exotic, damaged, and very wealthy and he wants Tyler …badly. Enough to make him an offer he can’t refuse.  It’s totally a Pretty Woman moment and I was grinning like … Julia Roberts!

One of the best things about Haris is that he has Wilson – the BEST man servant in the history of man-servant people. The old guy is just hilarious, bemoaning the state of his arthritic body while fancying himself a secret weapon in a Bond movie.  He is just pure class.

“I was looking forward to demonstrating my considerable prowess with the fire extinguisher I keep in the glove box should my arthritic knees impair my jujitsu skills.”

Ha! I loved him.  He was the perfect tool to lighten the tension.

I thought Tyler’s insight into high class prostitution and the unscrupulous people who run it was chilling and probably spot on. Haris is of Middle Eastern origin and his past exposes the barbaric attitude of his culture toward homosexuals. I know about this but … yeah, it’s pretty damn appalling what’s happening over there. But that’s a bitter discussion for another day. Let’s move on shall we …

This story reads like a movie; fast paced, incorporating multiple sub plots which you could label Suspense /Thriller, Rom-Com (depending on your PC level) or (and I blame Haris) a Drama but the main subject (for me) is the Romance …with XXX rating :)

This relationship is the kind where the chemistry dominates and the confessions of love are hard won. The MC’s suffer the consequences of mis: miscommunication, mistakes, misjudgements, and mistrust (I blame Haris) and communicate through sex – lots of it, probably too much, and if I’m being really honest …I’ll say there was WAY too much sex. These guys are insatiable and Elsborg writes really great erotica – like REALLY great – but eventually these guys just wore me out!

Excessive sex is one of my criticisms. Haris’ petulant temper tantrums are another, a couple of inconsistencies chafed and one or two doubtful (wtf?) scenarios lessens the rating. But Tyler alone has the power to make me look past it. I REALLY love Tyler! I’ve claimed him for my harem :) of book boyfriends.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and once you get past the darker stuff it gets fun – in a Hollywood action rom-com way. I read it way into the night and was excited when I got to pick it up again. It’s a real hold-on-tight book, a loooong book, a sigh-worthy book, a laugh-out-loud book, an eeeek-OMG-I can’t-look book and most positively an EROTIC book.

I’m absolutely recommending it.

So have fun, it’s a great ride :)

Oh, and one last thing: the blurb is misleading in that neither MC has a penchant for BDSM, well …not anymore. This is NOT a BDSM book.



18293477Title:  With or Without Him
Author:  Barbara Elsborg
Publisher:  Samhain 
Pages:  427
Release Date:  November 9, 2013
Purchase Links:  Samhain

11 comments on “PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: “With or Without Him” by Barbara Elsborg

  1. Sheri
    October 28, 2013

    m/m take on Pretty woman?
    *whipsernet pre-order click*
    Well, that was an easy sell ;)
    and holy hotness, LOVE the cover…
    Fab review my dear


    • shelley
      October 28, 2013

      A XXX version Sheri! So buy a copy for friends too ;)


  2. syleegurl
    October 28, 2013

    Yeah…done and done. But, I do know what you mean when a book has TOO much sex. Seriously…it gets annoying after awhile. :)


    • shelley
      October 28, 2013

      I can’t believe I’m saying this but at least 3 of those scenes would have benefitted from fade to black. I didn’t skim them or anything but when he felt the press of Haris erection against his stomach and his own dick was swelling once again …I would just huff and think: What? Again? Geeeez …guys, you’re hot together but COME ON! Enough already!! :)


  3. Barb
    October 28, 2013

    for me this book was just one misunderstanding too much..


    • shelley
      October 29, 2013

      Yeah…that too. I totally blame Haris!


  4. shelley
    October 29, 2013

    Hmm yes me too! But I had to keep reminding myself of his trust issues and where they stemmed from. The last time really did feel like one time too many (you are so right) and Tyler was a saint through it all. I just loved that man so much. If it wasn’t for Tyler I would have rated this book less.


    • shelley
      November 19, 2013

      ..maybe, only just a teeny bit and then rounded up – lol.


  5. Otila
    October 30, 2013

    Great review. This is definitely going on my tbr list.


    • shelley
      October 31, 2013

      Thanks Otila! I hope you enjoy it.


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This entry was posted on October 28, 2013 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Shelley and tagged , , .

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