Honest Synopsis: Funeral director lady with an overbearing, sexist father, laissez-faire mother, and bitter sister becomes addicted to paying for sex because it keeps her from feeling emotions. Funeral director lady likes to play sexy games. She scheduled a tryst with a man whose name is Sam, a stranger she “picked up” at the local bar. Sam irresistibly smells like beer and soap. After a mesmerizing romp in the sack in a cheap motel room, funeral director lady heads out and checks her voicemail only to hear a message from Jack, the “stranger” she was supposed to meet. Making Sam an actual stranger she picked up in a bar a banged. Funeral director lady gets on with life, still thinking of the stranger Sam, until one day Sam shows up at her funeral home mourning the death of his father and wants to pick up where he left off with funeral director lady. She of course does not want to feel anything so she has regular rendezvous with Jack, the original “stranger”. Jack is a male “escort” who is new to the business of escorting. Meanwhile, funeral director lady is constantly broke and fights with her father over the funeral business she has taken over. He doesn’t think she can do the job because she is woman and he worries she is running his business into the ground. He takes her laptop to check the books. Her laptop contains her personal expenses as well which includes the exorbitant budget for her male “escort” addiction. She also is starting to have more than a pay-for-play relationship with Jack and decides to try and give it whirl with Sam, who also has addictions. Will her dad find out about her pay-for-play lifestyle? Will the business be successful? Will Sam learn he was an accidental “stranger for hire”? Will they end up happy? Probably.
First off, sorry for the delay in getting these posts to you, our loyal readers. It has been a busy summer so far. I was out east in New York and Southeast, in New Orleans at the Essence Music Festival. Sadly, I did not meet Idris Elba or his doppelganger as I predicted in my Sultry Nights post. I did however, meet a hilarious musician whom I thought was an Air Marshal and got to spend quality time with my lovely aunt which I have not done in about 15 years. Not a bad compromise. I also got to rekindle my love affair with my first gay husband, or gusband James. He left me many years ago and came for a visit last week. Again, not Idris or a doppelganger, but not a bad compromise.
Back to the business at hand. It was my turn to pick a book and since we read BDSM last time, I figured we were ready for erotic fiction! In Stranger, by Megan Hart, our heroine Grace Frawley is a small town Pennsylvania mortician/funeral director who took over her family business from her father three years previously. Her father is kind of a sexist. He doesn’t think Grace can run the business as well as he did because she is a woman. He worries about her managing the money among other things, even though she has grown the business consistently each year and works 24/7. He is also pretty nosy and invades her personal space whenever possible. If I were Grace, I would have let his business rot, but she is being a dutiful, good daughter.
Part of her responsibilities as a business owner in the community requires Grace to attend many functions. A widow she’d helped in the past slipped her the card for Mrs. Smith’s Services for Ladies. The card also read “Massage, conversation and other.” Since Grace is single, busy, and doesn’t want to feel emotions, she took to hiring escorts to shuttle her around to events, because why deal with the complications of a relationship? PS. She used the nom de plume, Ms. Underfire for discretion. Which means her name was Grace Underfire. If you think this sounds familiar it is because Grace Under Fire was the name of a 90s sitcom starring comedienne Brett Butler.
Could we not come up with a better pseudonym?! Ms. Anything less ridiculous than Underfire!!! Why not Firecrotche? See, I added the “E” to make it sound French but when you see it on paper; you know its fire crotch. Creativity people, it’s not hard…well it should be if you are paying for “other”.
Speaking of “other”, Grace pays extra for that as well, like super sizing a food order.
Through this endeavor, Grace learned how to feel sexy and confident. She learned she deserved to be treated like a queen and rather than have to worry about someone dying or leaving her, she could pay to be treated like as such with less mess. Maybe we should all give male prossies a try! When people question it, you tell them its female empowerment.
We also learn that Grace likes to role play. On this particular occasion, she paid $300 to have prearranged sex with a stranger. She was to pick him up at a bar in a near-by town (of course she can’t do it in her town cause people would talk) and go back to his motel room and get busy. All of this happened according to plan. She meets “Sam” the stranger and after a drink and some words they go back to his motel room and get it on. She and “Sam” connect. She digs his pheromones. She says, “He smelled a little like beer, a little like soap. A whole lot like yum. I wanted to lick him.” Um…ok. They connected in the sack. Then it was over. Grace had to get back to reality. She left the motel, unwashed (I’ll get to this later). It wasn’t until she checked her voicemail in her car and learned that Jack was the stranger she paid for, not Sam. Egad! She boned a real stranger! Price: $300 for a free roll in the hay.
So at this point, I would be freaking. Getting tested, taking pills, hell, delousing! Even though he used a condom; there are other diseases…trench mouth, chlamydia, mono, and bed bugs to name a few. Grace just goes home…ew.
Mrs. Smith feels awful about the mix up and offers Grace a reschedule with Jack which she accepts since she shelled out $300 for the experience. So Grace meets Jack and he’s young, hot and an escort newbie. Grace was in lust. They don’t do anything on this first meeting, she might have been tired from her Sam time with Sam I Am or out of money to super-size it.
Did I mention Grace liked to role play? So the next time she meets Jack at a “renovated” strip motel, they are playing student and older woman, maybe guidance counselor…I can’t remember. After they get it on and Grace is dressing to leave (yes dressing to leave and not having showered…gross), Grace drops some escort science on the newbie. She tells him to negotiate his price up front because even women can be pricks. So begins the Miseducation of Jack. Price: $300 and a new pupil.
Did I mention Grace is struggling to pay for business and personal needs? She has an intern, Jared who is great but she can’t afford to hire him full time. Her apartment which is above the funeral home is in desperate need of updating. The 70s washing machine which was used to sanitize sheets used to cover the dead breaks and she freaks out because she can’t afford to replace it and pay to repair the damage from the flood. If you are thinking that if she stopped paying for hookers, she might be able to pay for other things, you may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but you may be smarter than Grace Underfire.
This is how I started to figure out Grace was addicted to male prossies. She was willing to forgo essentials to go out, role play and get her rocks off. She may need an intervention.
After her romp with Jack, Grace is at home and hears guitar playing where the dead folks are housed. She goes down to see what’s going on. I would have called Ghostbuster’s or actually left my house, because zombies, but that’s me.
Who does she see playing guitar next to his deceased father? Yup, Sam. The real “stranger” she picked up at the bar and banged. Sam was following Jewish traditions to sit with the body of the deceased. While he is sad about his dad, he is happy to see Grace again and want’s to pick up where they left off. Grace, on the other hand, while secretly happy to see him, is being all professional and aloof. She is the funeral director for his father’s funeral after all, the fact that they had an explosive, pheromone-filled one-night stand weeks ago and she’s thought about him constantly (even while banging Jack) is irrelevant. At the funeral, Grace learns that there is a long-standing beef between Sam and his brother Dan they almost come to blows at the burial. Escandalo!
Speaking of blows…Jack and Grace meet and play pizza delivery man and the same “renovated” strip motel. When Grace can’t “pay” for the pizza, delivery man Jack takes his payment in other ways…wink, wink. He got a little rough which Grace appreciated, and of course, like Stella in Highlander Taken, had a pain/pleasure moment. She said, “Release. It was so good, so strong, so…necessary. So freeing. In that moment I could do nothing but feel. I could think of nothing but pleasure.”
Once again, they finish and Grace immediately puts on her clothes. Jack, however, washes up a bit in the bathroom. It is raining by the time they are done and Grace offers Jack a ride home since he rode a bike to their appointment. They end up stuck behind a truck, unable to go around it for 10 minutes and get frisky once again. Grace straddles him in the passenger seat of her Camaro. She must dig his pizza scented pheromones as well. Price: $300. Bonus free pizza.
She gets back to the funeral home (still unwashed) and Sam is waiting for her. He talks her into ordering Chinese food. Grace then proceeds to bitch about the expense of eating Chinese at least one a week. Really Grace? Um, $300 a pop for male prossies! Sam asks her to think about giving him a shot and she agrees to think about it.
The next day Grace spends time with her family. Her sister Hannah is a mother of three with a douchey husband and is basically a giant bitch because her life sucks. She questions Grace’s sexuality, makes her feel like her life is nothing because she doesn’t have a husband and kids, you know, basically being a supportive sister. Then her dad starts in on her for not having new tires on her car. We all know why she can’t afford them…male prossies. This leads to him question her ability to run the business…again. He tells her he wants to see her accounting books which she ignores.
Grace explains to that she keeps meticulous records of her income and expenses. In fact, the most money she spent on a male prossie was $979.43 (down to the cents) which including dinner, dancing, movies, museums, 4 nights at a hotel. She says, ”I’d seen him once a week, and it cost me less than if I had rent and utilities and a car payment.” First off, where is she living that rent utilities and car payments are so cheap? Secondly, and this is how I know she is an addict. What normal person spends $244.86 (979.43 divided by 4 weeks) a week on dating?! That’s addict logic. She attempts to further justify the costs of her male prossies by comparing it to the money women spend on their hair, nails, clothes, etc. Her addiction at least guarantees her a “happy ending” –the sexy kind, not the awesome TV show. Fine and dandy Grace, I may spent $150 on my hair cut every three months, but you spent almost a grand in one month on a male prossie. How much are you spending the other months? Again, addict logic.
She solidifies her place as an addict when she is looking around her bare apartment, thinking about decorating it. She says, “Framed art and throw pillows didn’t have quite the same appeal as being fucked up against a wall until I screamed.” Then she calls Jack, her male prossie. Addict logic.
So she’s with Jack again, and her beeper goes off signaling a dead person emergency. She puts on her clothes and leaves…AGAIN. This time she is meeting clients…this chick is nasty. Price: $300 and bitch take a shower you are not in that much of a hurry!
At some point in the story Sam took to calling Grace a lot and Grace took to exasperatedly taking the calls. Sam didn’t call in two weeks and naturally Grace was pissed (classic lady behavior). Sam finally calls her to tell her he was in New York settling some affairs. She’s gets pissy about him not calling and Sam says, “Shit fritters” as some odd term of frustration. Then again, Grace says “pissflaps” when she is , well, pissed I guess. Maybe shit fritters and pissflaps (um…just read the definition of this in the Urban Dictionary…gross) are in Pennsylvania what bollocks is to the English. She hangs up on Sam.
Speaking of hang ups…Grace and Jack are back in the “renovated” strip motel. This time it was a more relaxed occasion Grace didn’t have to rush. She remarks, “I could take a shower before I left, so I wouldn’t have to ride home smelling like sex.” Well hooray for an extra five damn minutes!!! She learns how Jack got his start in the male prossie game. This time they were a bit more intimate than in previous meetings; which of course our friend, Grace who doesn’t want to feel, chooses to ignore. Price: $300 and maybe a boyfriend?
In between male prossies, one-night stands wanting to date her, and her annoying family, Grace manages to run her business successfully. She even has existential conversations about death with Jared, her funeral intern.
After her washing machine blows up and causes a flood, Grace meets Jack at the “renovated” strip motel for a “ruthless” screw. She is starting to get confused as to who’s pleasing whom which happens when you start having a regular sexual relationship with your male prossie. After a two-orgasm session, Grace goes to splash water on her face (yes, just her face cause she clearly doesn’t think any other part of her needs cleaning after being ruthlessly pounded) and gets dressed. She tells Jack his is pretty, a compliment he has never heard before, perhaps because he is a dude. He tells her she is pretty too. Price $300 and being called pretty by your male prossie whom you basically pay to make you feel pretty.
Sam’s back. He’s calling again. He tells Grace he and his brother Dan had a fight and he got his butt kicked. They chat and Grace agrees to go on a real date with Sam. Do I hear wedding bells? I think I may have mild tinnitus.
After the washing machine incident Grace’s dad is hell bent on seeing her financials. Unfortunately Grace’s computer dies. She tells her dad he can stop by the home in the afternoon and if the computer is working, he can snoop away. Her dad stopped over while she was out working and took her personal laptop where she kept her personal expenses (the detailed accounting of her prossies). She has nothing to worry about because I am pretty sure her laptop is password protected. Why would she give her dad her personal password? Seems like that is what she did because she knew for sure he would be calling her to ask WTF?! So let me ask this? If your dad came and took your personal laptop without your knowledge and you had information about your secret life that you don’t want anyone to see, wouldn’t you go to his home and pick it up immediately? Pretty sure you are nodding. I would as well. Grace I guess couldn’t be bothered. She goes out with Sam instead. Turns out they have the same exact car!!! It’s kismet!
After their date Sam went MIA for three days and resurfaced with a music teaching job and a gig at the local bar. He invites Grace to his first performance.
Meanwhile, Grace tries to reach her dad and get her laptop back, but he’s gone fishing. Pretty sure he’s contemplating sleeping with the fishes after learning his baby girl is getting banged out by hookers. I guess the bright side is that she is NOT a hooker?
Then Grace’s funeral home van got into an accident and Grace again freaks out about money. You know what I have to say about that. We also know what Grace’s next move will be. If you guessed, call Jack, you are a winner!
She calls Jack to go see Sam perform cause that is not weird at all. She certainly knows how to let a guy know she’s into him. If you too are thinking, which guy? We are on the same page. This is like the Playgirl version of The Bachelorette. Jack cancelled his other appointments to go out with Grace, so that kind of gives some insights to his feelings for Grace—although she probably pays better than the lady Johns. As Grace so eloquently puts it, “It’s a compliment when your hired fuck tells you he’d rather be with you than another client, but it’s also rather disconcerting if the reason you hire men for sex is because you’re trying to avoid relationships.”
Did I mention Grace has hardly any money? Jack asks if she wants to have dinner and she tells him she’s on a tight budget. He tells her he could have taken care of dinner and implies he’s not out with her for work per se. Jack also tells her that business has been going so well that he is going to school full-time in the fall to study Graphic Arts. Thanks to Grace’s money and tutelage.
They meet Sam. See Sam perform. Grace sees there is some chick there that is into Sam and she leaves before she could hear the song he wrote for her. Jack wants to “finish” his date with Grace, he invites Grace to his place for a shag. This means having sex for free…gulp. She’s got Sam on the brain, and to erase it, even if temporarily, she needs Jack to provide a sexual lobotomy. This is when an addict must decide as you hit bottom, to cut losses and quit or to sink down deeper. Grace. Goes. Deeper.
After they have sex, she and Jack get into an argument about Sam, some girl that Jack likes, named Sarah, but basically they argue about their relationship. They are both conflicted. No-frills sex became complicated because everyone developed feelings. Grace finally admits that she doesn’t want to get involved because it will only end. Like all things, everything dies. They break-up. It’s sad because they really did like each other, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. They helped each other get great for their next great relationships. Man, I am so philosophical. Price: $300. Bonus: free sexy time. Minus: Breaking up with the male prossie you had feelings for 😦
After an especially grueling day where Grace had to work with a family who lost their four-year old son, she had her break-through or breakdown and called Sam. They spend the night together, Sam consoled Grace. Nothing physical happens that night and Grace, used to getting it when she wanted because she was paying, found herself questioning Sam’s interest. Turns out, he’s teasing her. Men! He wants her to want him to want her to want him or something confusing and ridiculous.
They go to dinner at Sam’s brother Dan and his wife’s house. Grace learns that Sam hasn’t dealt with the grief of his father passing and he may have a bit of a drinking problem. That can be future Grace’s problem. Present Grace wants to bang her no longer stranger. Of course there is a post-coital “where is this going?” moment. Sam and Grace have no clue what they want. Grace is too freaked out to have emotions or let anyone in. They want to keep “hanging out and banging” which is dating I guess or like taking the long road in the Lord of the Rings, fraught with complications. Although Sam does say, “I don’t want to be just some guy you sleep with. I don’t want to be some boy toy.” I laughed out loud. If only Sam knew the truth.
They start dating. Sam tells Grace he loves her, she of course says nothing. Sam begins to grieve for his dad and starts drinking more. At one of Sam’s shows, Grace runs into Jack and his girlfriend Sarah. Sarah is cool and thanks Grace for teaching Jack manners and the ways of the woman. Sam was drunk and still drinking at the bar after his performance. He can Grace get into a fight about him driving. Well he drove drunk anyway and Grace makes him sleep on the couch. This was when I realized Grace has emotions. She started freaking out about the things that could happen to Sam. “What if he got cancer? Pneumonia? Tuberculosis? The flu? Leprosy? The plague? Oh God, what if Sam, my Sam died and left me? What if I had to be one of those women who had to choose what casket he should be put into the ground in, the suit he’d wear, what to say on his memorial card?” Yup, she’s alive and she’s got it bad. This can only end badly.
Sam finally gets to meet Grace’s family. He must have sobered up enough for the occasion. Oh yeah, did I mention Grace had money now? She was able to make Jared a partner in the business and build up her savings. Could it be that not having to pay for prossies enabled her to do all of the things she had been putting off? Amazing. Bonus, she got back her laptop.
Sam charms Grace’s family. As they are leaving, her dad stops her and gives her an envelope full of money to help with her “personal expenses”. He thinks Sam is a hired gun. Apparently he checked her personal expenses and read through her emails and got the low down on her down low life.
This infuriates Grace who should have been infuriated when he took her laptop months ago!!! She rips him new one and calls him out on his BS…finally.
In the car with Sam she tells him about the fight and spills the beans on the fact that she used to hire prossies and her dad thought he was one. Of course Sam figures out that the night they had sex the first time was a case of mistaken identity. So they fight more about it and Sam storms off and gets a DUI. Grace has to pick his drunken ass up. He confesses he lost his apartment in New York and regrets not taking his father’s offer of help before he died. He also throws a dig at her saying he called her instead of his brother to bail him out of jail because he knew he could pay off the debt with sex. Kind of a dick move. They of course break up.
Bright side, Grace and her father made up. He now respects her decisions and doesn’t think his way is the right way. Sam went back to New York and worked on a CD. He called Grace once. Now that Grace was no longer needed male prossies. She started reading romance novels (hahahahahahahah…just like we are here at Trashy Book Nook). Grace saw Sam at a Chuck E. Cheese place in town. He was with a woman and pretended not to notice her at first. Then as she was coming from the bathroom they spoke briefly.
Later Sam called Grace like a stalker while standing at her front door. Of course she lets him in and they have sex and just like that, they were together again. No questions asked.
- Total price for let’s say 6 months of empowering, sexy, fun times with male prossies: $2779.43
- Total number of times no shower happened after sex: Countless
- Landing the stranger you didn’t have to pay for and learning to feel (well, there were some costs associated since Grace had to bail Sam out of jail, but you get it): Priceless
Even though there are some questionable moments in the story line, Stranger was a pretty good book. It is the realest romance novel we have read thus far. The characters are flawed, just like in real life. There wasn’t a fairytale ending, because that doesn’t really happen in real life. It shows that love is tough but worth it.
Rating based on my Kindle cover: 4.5 out 5 Trash Roses