I am going to admit that I seriously considered putting this book down after reading the first encounter between Jackson and Sage. It was rough and unpleasant to say the least. However, I am very glad that I didn't give into my initial knee jerk reaction and walk away from the story. Jackson could really run for the title of King of All Jerks and give almost anyone a run for their money. Cold, indifferent, and completely self centered are all fair assessments of the initial Jackson that we meet. There's a very small sliver of decency shown after his initial encounter with Sage, but it is so small that it couldn't possibly make up for his behavior.
Both Jackson and Sage come from difficult families, have issues with trust, and neither are looking for a happily ever after when they come together. What they have in the beginning is purely a business arrangement, and one that Sage feels that she has not choice but to make. I enjoyed how realistic Tribue made Sage and Jackson. Both are flawed and willing to sweep things under the carpet at any opportunity. Neither wants to acknowledge what is possibly developing between them, but for different reasons. Sage doesn't want to be the naive fool who thinks that Jackson could ever be more to her than a client. While Jackson doesn't want to believe that he has the need for more than what he has contracted Sage for.
CONTRACTUAL is a hold on to your feminist sensibilities read. Jackson is no one's knight in shining armor or even a bad ass with a heart of gold. No, Jackson is Jackson and he gives it to you the way he wants you to have it. I will definitely be checking out other work by Alice Tribue. After all, any writer who can swing a character like Jackson back around for me deserves some big applause!
They told me I’d be an escort; they made it sound so easy.
Really I’m just a high priced call girl.
Desperation brought me to this and it led me to him, my one and only client.
Hating him is easy, he reminds me of my shame.
Wanting him is wrong it fills me with guilt.
Loving him is a losing battle yet it’s become everything.
A gift and a curse, he consumes my every thought and I’d rather play my part in his bed than to spend one day without him.