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Burn by Maya Banks

Burn (Breathless, #3)


ORDER A COPY: Burn (The Breathless Trilogy)

Publisher: Berkley
Publishing Date: August 6, 2013
Paperback: 353 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Ash, Jace, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Ash, it’s the woman who changes everything he’s ever known about dominance and desire…

When it comes to sex, Ash McIntyre has always explored his wilder side—extreme and uncompromising. He demands control. And he prefers women who want it like that. Even the women he’s shared with his best friend, Jace.

But Jace is involved with a woman he has no intention of sharing. And now even Gabe has settled into a relationship with a woman who gives him everything he needs, leaving Ash feeling restless and unfulfilled.

Then Ash meets Josie, who seems immune to his charms and his wealth. Intrigued, he begins a relentless pursuit, determined she won’t be the one who got away. He never imagined the one woman to tell him no would be the only woman who’d ever drive him to the edge of desire.


Ash McIntyre is a man who is used to getting what he wants, especially with women, but lately he doesn’t know exactly what it is that he wants. For the last several years, Ash and his friend Jace have shared their women. Ash became used to choosing woman with Jace for their short term relationships. Now Jace is happily engaged to a woman he has no intention of sharing leaving Ash trying to figure out what he wants to do next.

Ash is crossing through the park when he sees the woman who will turn his world upside down. He sees her sketching people in the park. More surprising, it seems that she is as aware of Ash as he is of her since she is sketching Ash. As he gets closer to her, he also notices that she is wearing the collar of a submissive. Now Ash is intrigued and determined to find out everything about the pretty little artist in the park.

By the time Ash is finally able to track down the gallery where Josie Carlysle displays her art, he is determined that Josie will be his, especially after he sees her latest painting; an erotic self-portrait, or at least he hopes it is a self-portrait because Ash wants to trace his fingers and his lips down that tattoo winding down her side.

When Josie finds out that all of her art at the gallery has been sold to a private collector, Josie finally has the confidence to accept Ash’s offer to become his submissive. Yet Ash realizes that if Josie ever finds out that he was the one to purchase her art, she might not see it as a compliment to her talent, but as Ash’s total manipulation to simply get her in his bed.

THOUGHTS:
This was definitely my favorite story of the series. During this trilogy, Ash came off as the more laid back partner, but there was a charm and a manipulation that made sure that Ash always got what he wanted. Since we had a taste of Ash’s sexcapades in Jace’s story, we also learned that there was a darker desire to Ash and definitely a manipulative side. He got Bethany to have a threesome with Jace and Ash and he pretty much orchestrated what was happening between the three of them.

So when I started this book, I thought this would be the more adventurous of the books. I believed that the majority of Ash’s story would involve sex and bondage, etc., etc. But in fact, I felt that there was much more storyline in Ash’s novel than in the previous two.

I also felt less awkward with the story itself and the connection between Ash and Josie. Although Ash had more money than Josie, she is an independent woman even if she was a starving artist. Josie also had a previous dominant/submission relationship which was less balanced than the one with Ash. So Josie blossomed with Ash and learned the true nature of the D/S relationship.

With Book #1 and Book #2, when you looked passed the superficial stimulation of the erotica, Book #1 involved an older man who becomes involved with his best friend’s sister who he watched grow up from a child and who he has had an interest in long before it was appropriate. He also to some degree punishes her and humiliates her for his strong attraction and feelings for her, i.e. stripping her and tying her naked to a table and then inviting business associates to touch her.

In Book #2, I was a little wary of the storyline of Bethany being homeless. Although Jace wants to take care of her and gives her a place to live, she doesn’t have the independence that Josie has to fall back on and her choice becomes more put up with Jace and his jealousy and his mood swings or live on the streets. I was disappointed in Bethany that she didn’t take the opportunity to find a job while she was living with Jace so that she could save her own money and be able to afford an apartment and get off the streets if things with Jace ended. She was content to stay home and be his plaything.

Maya Banks always writes such passionate characters, but this was the only book of the trilogy where I felt that the players were on a more equal footing going into the relationship and although Ash was dominant, he was not as hard core as I believed he would be from the previous stories.

I thought this was the best of the three.

Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

“Now it’s my turn to ask you twenty questions.”

“Hey, I didn’t ask you twenty.”

“Close enough,” he muttered.

She sighed. “Okay, okay. Ask away.”

His gaze immediately went to her neck. To that pale ring where the collar had rested. It had been the first thing he’d noticed when she’d walked out of the pawnshop, and he hadn’t dared to get his hopes up. But the fact that she’d accepted his dinner invitation, even if he’d blackmailed her, and that she didn’t wear the collar tonight as a barrier between them, told him that she was at least intrigued by this thing between them. Whatever the hell it was.

“Why aren’t you wearing the collar?” he asked softly.

Her free hand went immediately to her neck, and consternation shone brightly in her eyes. But she remained quiet, lips firmly pressed together.

“Josie? Why aren’t you wearing the collar?”

She sighed. “I’m not seeing him anymore.”

He had to work hard not to react to that piece of news. He’d suspected as much,but he hadn’t wanted to jump to any conclusions.

“What happened?”

She pulled her hand away from his, dropping it into her lap. She looked down, refusing to meet his gaze. He waited, not letting her off the hook. This was too important. He wanted to know every thing.

“Did you break it off or did he?” he finally asked.

“I did.”

“Want to tell me why? What happened, Josie?”

Her head popped up, her eyes flashing. “You’re what happened, Ash. You.

There was no faking Ash’s surprise. She’d definitely caught him off guard with her outburst. His eyes narrowed and he leaned farther over the table. He was still holding one hand, and he covered her free one, his palm sliding over the tops of her knuckles.

The man was lethal. With every touch, he seduced her, and she doubted he even knew it. Or maybe he did. Maybe knew exactly what he was doing.

“I didn’t happen,” he said in a low voice. “Because if I did, you’d be in my bed right now.”

His voice was a husky growl, sliding over her skin until the hairs at her nape stood on end.

She tried to pull her hands away, but he held firm, not allowing her to escape.

“You happened,” she refuted. “That day in the park. You made me question everything. And I didn’t like what I discovered as a result.”

“And that being?”

She shifted, uncomfortable with his close scrutiny. She didn’t want to be having this conversation. It was too intimate It was too…revealing. Ash was a man that if you gave him an inch, he’d take a mile.

“What did I make you question, Josie?”

It was equally clear that he wasn’t going to back down. “What that collar signified,” she said, finally relenting.

“What do you mean by that?” he prompted gently.

She blew out a deep breath. “The things you said, what the collar meant to you and what it should mean to me. I realized that. After. I thought about it a lot. And when I went to see Michael to find out what that collar meant to him, he didn’t even notice I wasn’t wearing it. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I’d think a man wouldn’t like the fact that a woman took the collar off. I mean if it’s supposed to mean everything you implied.”

“You’re not wrong,” Ash said.

“It’s a game for him. Maybe it was for me too,” she whispered. “He told me I was taking things too seriously. That the collar was fun, but meaningless. It’s like he was role-playing and none of it was real. And when I realized that, I also recognized that I didn’t want a game. But at the same time, I don’t know if I want it to be real. I think…with you…that it would be very different. With a man like you, I mean.”

“It’s not meaningless,” Ash growled, his face drawn into a scowl. “And hell yes it would be different with me. But you know what? It would be real. And it would mean something.”

“What would it mean?” she asked, her lips trembling as she stared back at the intensity of his eyes.

“It would mean you belong to me. Only to me. That you would submit to me. That I’d take care of you, provide for you, make love to you.”

He could have no idea the effect his words had. That they reached deep inside her and called to a part of her she hadn’t known existed. With Michael, it had been a game. She could see that now. Two people playacting. Going through the motions for a thrill. There was nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what she wanted.

But the thought of Ash, of belonging to him in the sense he was talking about, scared her. He was overwhelming in every sense of the word.

Fever by Maya Banks

Fever (Breathless, #2)


ORDER A COPY: Fever (THE BREATHLESS TRILOGY)

Publisher: Berkley
Publishing Date: April 2, 2013
Paperback: 416 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Jace, Ash, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Jace, it’s a woman whose allure takes him completely by surprise…

Jace Crestwell, Ash McIntyre, and Gabe Hamilton have been best friends and successful business partners for years. They’re powerful, they’re imposing, they’re irresistibly sexy, and Jace and Ash share everything—including their women.

When they meet Bethany, Jace begins to feel things he’s never experienced before: jealousy, and a powerful obsession that threatens him, overwhelms him—and excites him beyond control.

Jace isn’t sharing Bethany—with anyone. He’s determined to be the only man in her life, and it’s jeopardizing a lifelong friendship with Ash. Bethany will be his and his alone. Even if it means turning his back on his best friend.


Jace Crestwell is still trying to get used to his baby sister, Mia, being engaged to one of his best friends and partner, Gabe Hamilton. At their engagement party, he can’t keep his eyes off of the intriguing woman working for the caterer. When Ash, sees the woman who Jace can’t keep his eyes off of, he steps in to see if she would be interested in sharing a bed with Jace and Ash tonight. Jace and Ash have been sharing women for several years now.

Bethany is as intrigued by Jace as he is with her, and if she has to sleep with both men to spend the night with him, so be it. It wouldn’t be a first for her. But the whole thing feels off to Jace from the beginning. He doesn’t like that his friend Ash is touching her. He wants Bethany all to himself.

When she disappears the next day, Jace is frantic to find her again. He doesn’t understand the driving need to find her, but he won’t stop until he does. Yet he has a greater shock when he tracks her down to women’s shelter near Hell’s Kitchen and finds out that Bethany doesn’t volunteer there, Bethany is homeless. He’s horrified when he realizes that anything could happen to her while she was unprotected and living on the street.

When he finally finds Bethany, there is no way he will let her get away from him, but he fears that if she can’t accept Jace’s controlling nature, she will disappear back onto the streets of New York, and he’ll never find her again. Worse is knowing that his friend has touched the one woman who has Jace in a possessive frenzy and it is putting a strain on their decades long friendship.

THOUGHTS:

I like the way Maya Banks writes her characters. They are very passionate and well developed. Although I generally liked the story and it was a quick read, I was uncomfortable with the opening scene with Jace, Ash and Bethany because Jace was so uncomfortable with what was happening.

In this story, Jace has some great moments but just as many when he was an ass. Every time he was in a bad mood, he jumped all over her for something or other and then spends a good deal of time terrified she will leave and then trying to console her for treating her badly.

I understood that Bethany was relieved after all her life being ignored or abused and fighting to survive, that she would enjoy having someone like Jace taking care of her and making decision for her. I could also understand Bethany’s hesitation to believe that her good fortune in meeting a man like Jace who would take care of her would last and her self-consciousness that she wasn’t good enough for a man of Jace’s wealth and education. What I couldn’t understand is that for someone who has been taking care of herself for most of her life, she didn’t try to get a job once Jace set her up in an apartment. She kept saying it wouldn’t last and he will get bored with her very soon, but she didn’t try to get herself a decent job so that when he asked her to leave, she would have some money to get her own apartment. Instead of hanging around all day waiting for Jace to come home and jump her, it would have helped her self-esteem and her fear that she would be tossed back onto the street, if she had a job and earned her own money, or maybe was taking classes so she wouldn’t feel so inferior to Jace. She had what she believed was temporary good luck, but she didn’t do anything to improve her own situation so she wouldn’t end up right back on the street if he got bored with her. That annoyed me and if I thought too much about it, it left me feeling like Jace was just taking advantage of a homeless woman with no where else to go.

With the exception of my personal annoyance at Bethany, it was a good story and I am looking forward to see what Maya has planned for Ash.

Received an ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

Kate said Bethany was injured and his mind was filled with images, none that were good. They hadn’t gotten into specifics. Jace had been too impatient to get to her. How the hell had she gotten hurt?

A woman alone on the streets…There were 1,001 ways for her to get hurt and every one of them made Jace’s gut clench.

When his car pulled up in front of the shelter, he directed his driver to wait. Hopefully he wouldn’t be long, but he was prepared for anything.

He strode toward the entrance, the wind biting through his coat. When he opened the door, his gaze immediately swept the room, searching out Bethany. Then, finally, he saw her. In the back. Off to one side. Away from the others. She was sitting in a chair, pale and looking lost. Still, he drank in the sight of her, relieved beyond words that she was here. He could see that her pants were torn at the knees and on one side. He could also see the bloodstains on her clothing and the raw scrapes on her elbows. What the ever-loving hell? Before he could start over, Kate stepped in front of him, her face creased with worry.

“Will you be taking her with you, Mr. Crestwell?”

“Oh yes,” he said quietly. “She’s coming with me. I’ll take care of her, I promise.”

Kate’s expression eased. “Good. I worry about her. About all of them.”

He started to step forward, eager to get to her and to see how badly she was hurt, but Kate stopped him once more.

“I want to thank you,” she said in a soft voice. “For everything. The heat. The food. The generous donation. Look around you, Mr. Crestwell. All these woman have a warm place to sleep and food to eat because of you.”

Jace grimaced, uncomfortable with her gratitude. He nodded briefly and then headed for Bethany. Her eyes were closed. She looked asleep sitting up. He took the opportunity to study her more closely and he swore at what he saw.

She looked even thinner if possible. There were shadows under the eyes. She was pale.

And she was hurting.

He knelt quietly in front of her. As soon as she sensed his presence, her eyes flew open and she flinched away, panic firing in her eyes.

“It’s all right, Bethany,” he murmured.

Her eyes widened and he was gratified to see that her fear disappeared, but it was quickly replaced by confusion.

“Jace?”

His name came out a cautious whisper, almost as if she didn’t belief it was him kneeling in front of her. Then she straightened and she turned her hands inward, hiding the scrapes and the blood.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in a trembling voice.

His expression hardened and he stood. Her gaze followed him up and without saying anything, he simply reached down and plucked her slight weight from the chair. She landed softly against his chest and he cradled her possessively, determined that nothing else would hurt her. Then she stiffened and her mouth fell open with a gasp.

“What are you doing?” she hissed.

He strode toward the door, he grip tightening when she began to struggle.

“Taking you away from here,” he bit out.

She began to protest in earnest and Jace caught Kate’s worried stare. He nodded to reassure the older woman and then he tightened his hold on her further.

“Enough,” he ground out. “Don’t fight me. You’re worrying Kate. I’m not going to hurt you. I promised her I’d take care of you. Don’t make a scene. Do you want to frighten all the women?”

She bit her lip and went limp. Slowly she shook her head. “No,” she whispered. “But you can’t just carry me out of here, Jace.”

“Watch me.”

Rush by Maya Banks

Rush (Breathless, #1)


ORDER A COPY: Rush (THE BREATHLESS TRILOGY)

Publisher: Berkley Sensations
Publishing Date: February 5, 2013
Paperback: 416 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.


Gabe Hamilton, Jace Crestwell and Ash McIntyre have been friends forever and have built their corporate empire together. They have supported each other through Ash’s horrible family life, the death of Jace’s parents, and Gabe’s very scandalous and very public divorce. But Gabe is about to make a choice which could destroy the foundation of that friendship.

Gabe has lusted after Jace’s little sister for years now, but he was always quite aware of the age difference between them. Now Mia is 24 and quite the grown woman, and Gabe is willing to risk his friendship with Jace to finally have her in his bed.

Gabe is very demanding in his desires in the bedroom. After Gabe’s wife publically announced Gabe’s dominance and control over her to the world, Gabe now requires his lovers to sign an agreement. When they walk into his bedroom, they do it with eyes wide open and a very thorough understanding that they will be turning over control to Gabe completely.

When Gabe approaches Mia, his offer is two-fold, she will come to the office and become his assistant, giving her a chance to use her degree, but she must also agree to sign his contract and become his sexual partner. She must agree to be at his beck and call and do whatever he instructs and be open to try all his sexual preferences.

Gabe has not been the only one lusting after this affair. Mia has had her own sexual fantasies starring Gabe for years now. Can she agree to all Gabe’s terms in order to have a chance to see if the man lives up to the fantasy? Can she risk the relationship between her brother and Gabe if Jace ever found out about them?

THOUGHTS:

I usually don’t grab books out of the erotica section unless they have a very interest storyline. I have been avoiding the bondage type stories which are all the rage. Sweetheart, shifters don’t need to tie you up. If they say stay, you stay. ;)

I love Maya Bank’s KGI series and she writes very passionate characters so I thought if I was going to try this type of book, she was definitely the author I would go with. When I am reviewing a book I try not to read other reviews since I want to give my own impartial thoughts about the story, but considering my wariness about the subject, I did peek at a few reviews.

The one complaint I noted was the lack of “romance” and true connection between the characters. Keep in mind if you are looking for a sweet romance, there are hundreds of books out there under the genre of romance. This is found under erotica. The storyline is going to be a more sexual story so you need to keep that in mind. There is a real emotional detachment in Gabe. It is all about his fantasies and desires and using the women who sign his contract to fulfill his lust.

Regardless of the sexual situations, some of which I was a little put off by—I’m not much for the tying up or the hitting/spanking and Gabe was pretty rough with Mia in that “I am so worked up over you” way—I finished the story because I was interested in seeing how it all worked out with Jace finding out, because you knew he would, and Gabe does eventually come to have real feelings for Mia and that does come through.

I have a copy of Book #2, Fever, which is Jace’s story and I look forward to learning more about Jace and his issues (it appears his likes to share his women with Ash).

As I expected from Maya Banks, there is definitely more to the storyline than just bondage and spankings but keep in mind if you are looking for romance that is just hearts and flowers, this is probably not for you.

I will still be very selective with my erotica selections, but Maya Banks does know how to write her characters with a lot of depth.

Received ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

Gabe watched as Mia’s gaze swept the room, her brow furrowed in concentration as if she searched for someone. A server stopped and offered her wine, and she took one of the elegant, long-stemmed glasses but she didn’t put it to her mouth.

She was outfitted in a killer dress that hugged her in all the right places complete with fuck-me shoes and an upswept hairstyle that practically pleaded for a man’s hand to tug it down. Dark tendrils floated softly down her neck, drawing attention to the slender column that begged a man’s lips. He was damn tempted to stride across the room and wrap his coat around her so that no one else would see what he considered his. Jesus, and if that didn’t make this even more insane. She wasn’t his anything. But that too was going to change.

The off-the-shoulder cocktail dress drew attention to her breasts, and he damn sure didn’t want anyone else looking. And men were looking. Already she’d drawn the attention of others. They stared—like he did—their gazes predatory.

She wore a delicate chain with a diamond solitaire around her neck, and diamond studs adorned both ears. Both had been a gift from him a year earlier. For Christmas. It gave him satisfaction to see her wearing the things he’d bought for her tonight. For him, it was one more step in the inevitable direction of her being his.

She didn’t know it yet, but he’d waited long enough. He’d endured enough time of feeling like the worst sort of criminal for lusting after his best friend’s baby sister. When she’d turned twenty, it had marked a huge difference in the way he viewed her, but he’d been thirty-four and he knew she was still far too young for what he expected from her. And so he’d waited.

She was an obsession, and it made him uncomfortable to admit, but she was drug in his veins he had no desire to cure himself of. Now that she was twenty-four, the age difference didn’t seem so insurmountable. Or so he told himself. Jace would still go ballistic—after all, Mia would always be his baby sister—but Gabe was willing to take the risk to finally taste forbidden fruit.

Oh yes, he had plans for Mia. He had but to put them into action.

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