The Lottery

The Lottery - Alexandra O'Hurley The year is 2106 and Ms. O'Hurley wastes no time in plunging readers into Ethan’s world. A world where men are considered for the most part to be chattel. They are bought and sold on a contract basis by rich women who can afford their company. Ethan has been ‘in service’ since he was a teenager. It’s evident he is an embittered soul who has had to endure a life of sexual slavery to survive. His most recent two year contract with Ophelia (a cruel narcissistic woman) has ended. Ethan hates Ophelia and he plans to move on to his next mistress. Ophelia has purchased another ‘boy toy’ and when she makes demands of Ethan that he finds abhorrent he walks out. Ophelia then sees to it that Ethan is ostracized by the wealthy, and he is unable to procure another contract.

Fast forward 4 years and readers meet gifted artist, Karlyn who is struggling for recognition of her paintings and to make ends meet. Karlyn is a sweet, insecure woman who has been ostracized by her family because of her choice of pursuing her art over a more lucrative career. It is her birthday and Karlyn’s successful, wealthy best friend Sam comes to take her out to dinner to celebrate. Sam recognizes her friend's talent and has been Karlyn’s number one cheerleader with respect to her artistic endeavors. Sam has even purchased some of Karlyn's paintings. As a birthday present Sam gifts Karlyn with a silver Federated Lottery ticket giving her the chance to win the company of a man for a year. At first Karlyn declines Sam’s extraordinarily expensive gift but after some convincing Karlyn accepts. After all there's a chance in a million she will win right?

When a knock comes to the door of Karlyn’s loft and the most gorgeous man she has ever seen in her life, along with reporters and vid crew are standing there, she is beyond surprised. Shocked and scared to the point of being paralyzed is more like it. The fact is, Karlyn has no idea what to do with a man because she has never been in a relationship before. Ethan doesn’t know what to make of his new mistress, she is dressed in overalls covered in paint splotches and doesn’t seem to want him there. At first, Ethan and Karlyn’s relationship is quite adversarial in nature, but sexual tension and attraction increases to the boiling point and, gradually, feelings develop. Karlyn is unlike any woman Ethan has every known and that is saying a lot because he has ‘serviced’ many women.

Ms. O’Hurley has crafted a multlayered sensuous and emotional story in The Lottery. I have to say, I was surprised at the depth of emotion it provoked. Ethan is a man who I felt was a suppressed alpha male in many ways. He has been forced into a subservient sexual role which has lead to horrific unhappiness. To watch him gradually learn to trust Karlyn and grow to love her is sweet and special. Karlyn, as mentioned above is extremely insecure concerning her appearance and ability to succeed regarding her art for a variety of reasons. She is inexperienced sexually because she has by choice and circumstance never had a relationship with a man. With Ethan’s attention and nurturing, she slowly overcomes her insecurities and gains confidence. In this setting her muse flourishes and her art comes to the attention of some wealthy, prominent patrons. Karlyn's work is in demand.

Ms. O’Hurley pens a couple of surprising plot twists into the The Lottery and she also develops strong secondary characters, in Karlyn’s friend Sam, Ethan’s sister Bailey and his grandmother Evangeline. When Ethan suffers an unbearable loss the tenuous trust and love he built with Karlyn is lost. The question is can they get past his anger and volatile rejection of her, and be reunited?

I had a couple of small niggles with this read, one is there is no indication as to why there are so few men in the population. There is a mention of pre-war clothing so I’m assuming there was a conflict of some description but maybe I missed something? lol Also, there were some grammatical and language issues that I felt should have been addressed in the editing process but this is no fault of the author.

Overall, I enjoyed The Lottery very much. I found it to be a multilayered story, set in a world with a reversal of the male/female role in many respects coupled with an established class system where wealthy women sat on the top rung of the ladder. I really liked Ethan and Karlyn, I felt for them and wanted to learn how their story would end. I will look forward to reading more of Ms. O'Hurley’s work.

The Lottery is a sexually explicit erotic romance that does have a scene with an orgy, light bondage, submission, and anal sex, so be forewarned if this genre isn’t your cuppa. ;)