I have tried to read one or two books by Maya Banks and have always walked away scratching my head over the high ratings. I bought this one on sale, again because of the ratings, but I don't get it. This woman cannot write her way out of a paper bag.
In this instance, the plot was constructed from a flimsy framework of abusive sexual slavery. There was never a instant when I thought, yes, that makes sense -- I can see a real person doing that. There was nothing sensual about it. It was sick sexual domination that we're supposed to accept as sexy because it was the woman's idea. The final insult is that the author tries to make us believe all of the abuse is acceptable because it is ultimately motivated by love. Perhaps if this is your first erotica novel, you might not know the difference. Perhaps that explains some of the ratings.
The H wants to live his life with a sexual slave, and he makes no apology about it. He hasn't been able to find a woman willing to live it 24/7 with him and has about given up when he meets a woman with a fantasy of being a sexual slave. There is a contract, but no discussion of cost. Ever. Are fantasy's like this free?
It's a hard knock life for a sexual slave, and after the initial excitement, the woman, Serena, decides that it's a little too hard core for her. But the guy is so persuasive that he continuously manipulates and breaks down her personality for his own gratification so that she doesn't know where fantasy leaves off and reality takes over. She's frightened and confused. When she acts on those feelings, she is stripped, beaten and forced to give oral sex to her "owner" in front of a dinner party so that he can exert his dominance and teach her a lesson and not be embarrassed in front of his friends..
But what made it worse was the ending.
Serena has a major meltdown, but instead of attributing it to the sexual abuse she is suffering, the author does to us what the abuser did to her, she twists the logic. Serena's business is about fulfilling fantasies. At the request of the parents of a terminally ill child, she creates a cruise ship fantasy (why a cruise ship for a child?) where the child is crowned princess complete with coronation -- (like a child would understand or care about a coronation.). When the child dies, which was the motivation of the fantasy after all, Serena has a breakdown because "all fantasy's are lies" and she couldn't give the child "the one thing she deserved, a long and happy life." She runs from her owner/lover, starves herself, decides to sell her business, and generally goes around the bend -- because, we are expected to believe -- a a child who is terminally ill, dies. And, this continues to be a major melodramatic plot point even after the parents of the child thank her repeatedly for making the last days of their child such joyful ones, in a scene at the grave site. But does Serena finally see the reality of the situation? No. She stubbornly clings to her certainty that she failed this child, and now her life has no meaning.
This is the first time I've read a story where the author is in denial about her own character. What makes more sense? Serena is an unstable narcissist with a God complex who thinks she should have power over life an death as part of a realistic business plan? Or are we witnessing the emotional degradation of a woman so severely abused that a her personality disintegrates, and she accepts sexual slavery? Serena says over and over again that she's lost herself. She's right, but apparently the author didn't have the guts to write this story the way it should have been written.
Instead, this is a sexy erotic novel, so of course she's not sexually abused, right?
If the motivations attributed to Serena were the norm, the Make a Wish Foundation would be out of business.
IMHO, this one was pure crap.
Also, Caroline Wintour is not a favorite.
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It's written in first person in alternating chapters from the perspective of the main two characters. The heroine is a young woman who seems to have plenty of time on her hands, though she's an up and coming photographer. She lives in an apartment next door to her best friend from college, and the two go out to clubs together. It's at a club late one night that she literally runs into a guy that she's strangely attracted to, but the attraction is unsettling. It's a big mystery who the guy is, and then there's another mysterious guy. Bad stuff happens. People close to her die. She's told she has a destiny that she denies, of course, while running around putting herself in danger.
It's pretty tame and somewhat predictable stuff. Kind of soporific, actually, though it weaves a spell. I listened right to the end to find out what was going on. Not sure I'd continue this one, probably not. Maybe if it's cheap I'll buy the next one on Audible for when I can't sleep.
Renee Raudman really munched the scenery in this one, totally destroying the pacing and any sense of excitement or drama.
Glad I have it on Kindle. I might get around to reading it someday.
I never buy short books -- I like big books and I cannot lie.
But when I saw Tristan Hunt was the narrator, I couldn't stop myself. So glad I didn't! Hot buttered rum poured into my ears!
Emphasis on Hot!
Ok, this story isn't my typical read because I haven't had much luck with Highlander tales since Outlander, (I guess because I tend to compare every Highland book with that one).
I'm not really sure why I stuck with this book. The voice Braden Wright does for the h is so awful it comes across as camp. It really is the worst.
Then I got to the part where the guys were singing to the little boy around the campfire and nearly lost it. That scene is so gorgeous it took my breath away.
So even though he lost points for her voice, he got them all back when he sang.
I really got swept away in this one.
Too many of the HRs I've read lately have been too predictable. This one has an actual story to it with great characters and a plot that actually goes somewhere.
Looking forward to the next two books about the other sisters.
I had a hard time sticking with this one and didn't finish it. Too much of the plot was unbelievable, and the h, Sophia, came across as a bit of a cypher. Her motivations were odd and the whole thing dragged on for too long without making any sense.
I also didn't care for the narrator's choice of a voice for the h. It's some kind of weird accent, but it's never really explained what it is. Her voice for the rest of the characters were fine.
I couldn't relate to, or care about, any of the characters. It was a very bad melodrama without the drama.
Three penniless sisters who have survived the terrors in France, grow up and learn the family business of being modistes for the wealthy ladies of the ton. Sophie is the 2nd sister, and she's got all the determination and skills of manipulation that her older sister possessed. To save her business, she sets out the save the reputation of an important customer, and along the way, she falls in love.
I really like the first book in this series, and the 2nd is just as good.
Emma is a yuppie princess who loves to tell us all about her kakis and button downs, her too large and trash filled shoulder bag, her awful boss at work, how she only wears basic makeup like mascara and lip gloss, and the fact that she likes her coffee a certain way -- ad nauseum. She is so self involved that there isn't a detail of her life that she leaves out of her story. And despite the fact that she isn't at all concerned with pausing the action for inane digressions that made me yell at the wall during the very few actions scenes, or the fact that she was constantly in a childish temper -- despite all of that -- I had to finish this stupid book!
One day while making her daily coffee run for a pick me up, Emma meets a 1/4 vampire, 3/4 human guy, and they fall for each other. Thing is, he's got very little time left before he meets true death, so he wants to make a baby with her ASAP. What's a girl to do? He is the love of her life (after only knowing him a couple of months), so they get busy right a way.
Teren is every bit the yuppie that Emma is. He's stubborn and willful and determined to live what's left of his human life where and how he wants, even if that means putting Emma and any other human in danger of death when the change comes upon him. Their both immature a$$holes, and I wanted to knock their heads together.
Without the vampire element, this book would have been the literary equivalent of watching paint dry.
Their families are pretty dull also, even though his are various degrees of vampire, and her's includes a sister whose been horribly scarred by surviving a fire at a young age. The whole thing reads like a pretty dull YA love story, even though it's advertised as being for adults. Any sex that happens gets short shrift in Emma's narrative and happens "off camera."
So why did I read it?
And why did I buy book two?
Ok, so even though I found Emma to be beyond annoying, (and the 1st person structure didn't help), nor did the spot on narration of Piper Goodeve, this stupid book held my interest til the end.
I know, I don't get it either.
Lily's had a tough childhood. With a mom who wasn't really much of a mother, and a father she's never known, growing up in a trailer park could have been hell. Fortunately, her best friend, Tara, and Tara's grandmother, are her true family. Without them, she doesn't know what she would have done. The dialogue between these lovely characters is snappy and loving, and I completely enjoyed their world.
One of Lily's best friends growing up is Will, a gorgeous guy that she fell in love with. But when she tried to declare her love, Will dumped her hard and disappeared from her life. Hurt but determined to get on with her life, Lily starts college with Tara, only to discover that Will goes to the same school. Ouch!
Then a new gorgeous guy comes into Lily's life, and he is everything she could ever want in a soul mate, but is he too good to be true? In fact, he isn't what he seems to be, at all.
Angels, good and bad, populate this inventive paranormal, and the writing is top-notch.
Still, I think the best part of this book may be the narration. Christa Lewis kept me listening past the beginning when the h read like a bit of a goodie two shoes, which I typically find dull. Happily, the story picked up, and the pacing was very good, giving a sense of something not quite right without going overboard. When the badness comes along, you've already sensed it, even though you don't know what to expect.
Having read book one, I can't wait to pick up book two.
Monroe Stonecrow is the alpha, and he has a vision for his species' survival that revolves around their procreation. He will do anything to save them, and this often includes manipulation. He's very single minded, and believes the ends justify the means. There is a strong motivation to his plan: his people are being hunted and killed by a secret organization, and he wants to save them before it's too late. Therefore, he lacks sensitivity and subtlety, and most of all, patience. This is crucial to understanding the series, because if you don't get that, you won't get the whole point of it.
I'm not a big fan of shifter books (with a few exceptions: Patricia Briggs comes to mind) because their usually pretty formulaic with alpha males that are often just bullies. Why authors don't recognize that this is not a sexy characteristic says more about them than anything else. A really strong, smart man doesn't need to bully anyone. Ever. And they are the sexiest men in the world. There are so few authors who know how to write men like this, unfortunately for us women. Sigh.
I started this series on kindle over the weekend, and I enjoyed it without being aggravated, which is saying something for me. Most of the male characters are not this bad, but some are (Gauge). Monroe is the worst offender of the bunch though when it comes to being a bully. Ultimately, he has a soft side for Eden, but he continues to push buttons on everyone else throughout the series -- which, if nothing else, makes him and the author who wrote him, consistent, which I do appreciate.
Other than the standard formula, it is an entertaining series, and the set ups that bring the H and h together are original and interesting. I've spent a lot more money and time on a lot less entertaining storylines, so I'd say give it a try.
I agree with those who don't like the reader. She grew on me, or rather, I was able to ignore her after a while. I would say give it a read on your Kindle instead though. I'm not sure I'd buy another audio version because of her breathy, breathless style of reading.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.