This book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at SeductiveMusings.blogspot.com.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Giving It Up (The Lost Girls #1). You could possibly read Selling Out as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Shelly is the “hooker with a heart of gold” we first met in Giving It Up when she was the one remaining friend helping keep Allie and her young daughter Bailey from living on the street. Now that Allie and Bailey have Colin in their lives, Shelly has only herself to look after, but even that seems to be a task she can’t get quite right. Her stint as a police informant for Detective Luke Cameron nearly got her killed once before. Now that she’s taken on responsibility for a young girl caught up in an underworld hit and framed for murder, Shelly’s secret hope for a better life with Luke seems like a crazy dream destined to be just as impossible as all the other dreams she’s ever had. But by the end of Selling Out, we see that what ties Shelly and Luke together forever is more than just physical and that they have more in common than they could possibly imagine.
Normally I tend to shy away from romantic suspense stories, as my enjoyment of the romance so often ends up being affected by the immediacy and drama of the suspense, especially if the suspense takes over the plot completely. Keeping that delicate balance between danger and love is one that few authors do well, in my opinion, but Amber Lin is already one of the best. When I read Giving It Up, her first book in The Lost Girls series, I couldn’t believe how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Allie and Colin being in danger as much as their tender romance. So when I found out there was a sequel featuring Allie’s friend Shelly, I knew I was in for another wild roller-coaster ride before getting to what I wished and hoped would be Shelly and Luke’s happy ending.
In Selling Out, we see much more of the ugliness and depravity of the Chicago underworld than in the previous book. Shelly’s connections to this world run wide and deep, deeper than she realizes until it’s nearly too late. She tries to save other girls from the life whenever she can, but it’s the last girl she tries to save who may end up taking them all down with her. We revisit Shelly’s relationship with Colin’s brother Philip, and meet the other key players in the sad sordid life that Shelly keeps trying to leave behind, apparently to no avail. While Shelly’s motivations seem obvious, Luke’s become murkier as more of his past is revealed. By the time we reach the book’s moment of reckoning, it’s not clear if either Shelly or Luke can survive what has already happened and what will happen after all the secrets are revealed.
I loved Selling Out so very much, not only because of how wonderfully Amber Lin develops each of her characters, but also the intense level of emotion each of her characters brings out as they attempt to survive in a world where all the odds are set against them from the start. Neither Shelly’s redemption nor Luke’s love are guaranteed, but the path to both is a satisfying action-packed thrill ride you won’t regret.
Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level: 5 (several acts of sexually related violence, references to rape and incest)