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.
Sue Pitkin reads as if she has a mouthful of spit she can't swallow. I imagine the microphone she's reading into has . . . well, you get the idea. I don't know if this is a good book or not. I've tried to listen to it three times, and have given up every time.
I will not buy anything read by Sue Pitkin again, but plan on trying to read this book on my Kindle.
This is a popular series on Amazon, with many, many books already available, which is very exciting provided Audible records them all!
This first book was an intriguing mixed bag for me because I both hated and loved the h, Cyn or Cynthia. Mostly because her dangerous and pig headed actions made me nervous. I shouldn't have worried. She's every bit the bad ass she thinks she is, so I look forward to reading more about her and her relationship with Raphael.
Traci Odem's performance of Cyn's voice, while good, bordered on strident at times. I found myself turning down my ipod because of the sharp pitch of her voice. This may have impacted my overall opinion of the character, at least until the end.
The main criticism I have is that although we've all been trained to accept that the vampire love interest is A. gorgeous, and B. powerful, aside from a few cliched descriptions, I really wanted to SEE Raphael in my mind, and I didn't feel that D. B. Reynolds did justice to her character in this book. It was a bit disappointing to realize at the end that he was never fully fleshed out. That being said, I'm hoping that this is remedied by the many, many books to come.
It also bugged me that if Cyn had only told Raphael one name, so much of the situation would have been solved. It felt a little silly that she wouldn't have told him, but then, that's the nature of these kinds of books, so whatever.
I am excited that the action scenes, in particular, are well done. Spare and easy to envision, there is nothing cliched about them! The villains are interesting and scary, and the resolution was nicely executed. The world is interesting and big enough to make a series worth my time.
The sex scenes were what you'd expect -- hopefully, they'll get a bit hotter.
Sigh. I was looking for a fantasy, and since James Marsters read it, I thought why not? Unfortunately, it suffers from bizarre world building. At times creepy, it kind of devolves into a depressing mix of genres, doing none of them justice.
I'm giving up so I can reread something better.
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.
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