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REVIEW: Blush by Lauren Jameson

Dear Ms. Jameson:

Lately I’ve been reading a ton of billionaire heroes and their submissive heroines. I don’t apologize for it. For some reason, the trope is really working for me. So, when I read the blurb for your book, Blush, I immediately reached out to Jane to request it. What I found was a tale with a ton of missed potential, but an authorial voice that I enjoyed.

BlushMadeline Stone is fleeing from her previous life. A life in which a car accident where Maddy was driving killed her sister, Erin, and Maddy walked away with a few scars. She’s compensated for the disarray in her life by shutting down. She risks very little. She has a routine and she sticks to it. She sees a therapist to help her work through her issues. She’s quit her job as an Optician to become a waitress at a diner. Her routine is such that any deviation can bring on a panic attack. So Maddy never deviates. But her therapist has encouraged her to make a list of things she’d like to try. And then try just one each week. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something to break her out of her routine, to help her move beyond the grief.

This is how Maddy finds herself sucking down a soda at the El Diablo casino. And this is how Alex Fraser, the owner of the casino sets eyes on her. He realizes she’s a terrified little rabbit, but she’s gorgeous, and once he engages her in conversation, he’s charmed. He encourages her to go play a game of blackjack, and Maddy wins quite a bit of money. She’s sure Alex arranged it that way, and is irritated that he’s put a blemish on her one act of daring. She leaves the casino irritated, but unable to stop thinking about the enigmatic man she’s just met.

Alex can’t stop thinking about Maddy either. He’s almost positive she’s a submissive, and he desperately wants her for his own. But he’s also quite sure that Maddy has never considered the lifestyle before, and he knows that rushing her in any way will just make her bolt. He begins a slow courtship of Maddy, hoping to build a trust bond between them. He knows Maddy wears a locket, but she won’t talk about her past at all, and Alex is sure that her past is why he can’t finalize their trust, and why she won’t give herself over to him completely. He uses D/s play to attempt to build that trust. While she’ll trust him in the bedroom, she refuses to share her past with him. Will Alex ever be able to convince Maddy to trust him? Will he ever trust her with his secrets?

This book had a ton of potential for me. I enjoy D/s books. I love an arrogant billionaire Dom, and I like stories where one character is being introduced to D/s. But there were so, so many things that I felt were brushed upon, but never delved into. For example, Maddy is fleeing her life. She uncomfortable talking to her almost brother-in-law, Nate, who is surviving her sister’s loss as well. Was it happy relationship prior to her sister’s death? Or unhappy? I gather she and her sister were close, but you never build the importance of that relationship into the book. So I’m assuming that, rather than knowing it from the text.

Alex makes it clear that he disapproves of therapy/therapists (which aggravates me to no end) due to his past. His ex is a therapist, and apparently her getting with him, then intentionally getting knocked up has made him hate ALL therapists and therapy, which immediately makes me think he’s kind of a moron. Anyway, Alex has a child. We know this because once Maddy saw an orange ball under his bed. We never actually see the child, who you would think would inform his character in some way.

Also, Maddy was once an Optician (which is a cool, unusual career for a romance novel heroine). But she gave up the job to become a waitress. Because of the grief…or something. Each of these things was brushed upon, but never explored, making this book feel very surface-level to me. There was no emotional exploration, thus I never truly believed the characters’ connection. The epilogue features Maddy, wearing an engagement ring, meeting Alex’s daughter for the first time. So, she’s made the lifelong commitment to marry him, and is actively planning a wedding and has never met his daughter? Really? That doesn’t seem healthy. Also, I’m also for the redemptive power of love, but Maddy’s relationship with her therapist, one of the only plot points that you delved into even a little bit, has apparently fallen by the wayside. I would have thought that Alex’s acceptance of her therapy, and heck, maybe even meeting with the therapist might be in order. She still sees the therapist, but it’s clear in the epilogue that she credits Alex with her recovery.

I do think that you have an interesting authorial voice, but for me, this book felt unfinished and light in the plot and character development area. I thought the sex scenes were interesting, and well choreographed, but really didn’t do much to build the relationship between hero and heroine. Overall, I thought the book had an interesting premise, and interesting plot points, none of which was actually developed. Therefore, I’m unable to give Blush a recommendation. Final grade: D

Kind regards,

Kati

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Kati

I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.

14 Comments

  1. DB Cooper
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 09:06:31

    How timely, with our other discussions going about mental health, etc. Hah. :)

    Can I ask, what’s the D/s content like (if that isn’t giving away too many spoilers)? Is it the sort of thing we’ve seen where dominant simply means “I like to be bossy in the bedroom” + spankings? Is there more involved, like toys? Leather? Punishment? Fetish play?

    My mind can come up with some interesting things a casino owner might like. (Honestly, as a bit of a detour, I really think voyeurism — or its opposite, a sort of exhibition/voyeurism aversion– would be really prime stuff for the owner of a building with a million cameras in it).

    Of course, there’s something about the setup that feels a little “far fetched” to me. I kind of like the first part, about the accident and the resultant change…but by the time we get to casino owner, my thoughts take a hard left it seems. Of course, I haven’t read it, but I’m thinking he spies a girl like this and if his instincts say anything it should be “Night of fun” not “She’s the one…and I’ll be a gentleman this time!”

    Also, I know D/s is a broad, broad term, but I’ve found it amusingly ironic that a woman with a rigid routine can be cured by …. a relationships approach at times involve either a) learning by routine or b) the deliberate wrecking of routine in order to promote anxiety and uncertainty in the submissive.

  2. DB Cooper
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 09:25:04

    Haha. I think I’ve been caught by the spam filter again?

  3. Kati
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 09:34:45

    @DB Cooper: Sorry about that! I freed your comment. :)

    The D/s is very mild. More like sex with a bit of bossiness. Definitely not what I would qualify as D/s. But the book blurb reads like it’s D/s.

  4. DB Cooper
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 09:49:43

    @Kati:

    Thanks on both counts!

  5. Meg
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 10:07:08

    Kati, would you be willing to share some of the titles of the other books with this trope that you’ve really enjoyed? I couldn’t finish Fifty Shades of Grey when I started it last year because I was so frustrated by the heroine, but I liked the premise a lot. Any recs would be welcome! :)

  6. Kati
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 10:25:41

    @Meg: Meg – I’m a big fan of Maya Banks’ most recent series: Rush, Fever, and in August, Burn. Not everyone liked Rush (I reviewed it here at Dear Author), but for me it was a very solid read. So, I’d definitely recommend that. All three books feature millionaire, dominant heroes.

    Another series that I’ve just this week discovered that I’m quite enjoying is Roni Loren’s “Loving on the Edge” series. Not all of the heroes are millionaires, but the D/s is very well done, and on the lighter side.

    If you’re looking for a more vivid depiction of D/s, I recommend the Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill. I really like that series as well. Branded Sanctuary is my favorite of those, perhaps because I read it first.

    I also really liked Lauren Dane’s novella Sway in the duology Cherished, which she co-wrote with Maya Banks. (Also reviewed here at DA). I didn’t like the Banks novella much, but really enjoyed Sway.

    If I think of more, I’ll post, but those are some of the ones I really liked.

  7. Isobel Carr
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 11:44:36

    He’s almost positive she’s a submissive

    This whole trope of the man just *knowing* the woman’s sexual turn on by looking at her drives me INSANE!!! And in this case, it sounds like he’s basically preying on a wounded creature and finding her wound attractive and worthy of exploitation. No. Just a BIG resounding NO!

  8. Meg
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 11:51:34

    @Kati: Thanks so much, Kati! I’ll be downloading a ton of sample chapters soon! I love a good glom. :)

    I really enjoyed Lauren Dane’s “Cherished,” as well. I actually just re-read it a couple of weeks ago and, after doing so, I ended up on her website. As luck would have it, she’s releasing a novel that features Jonah from “Cherished” as the hero. I really liked his character in the novella, so I’m hoping his book will just as good.

  9. CK
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 12:46:24

    @Isobel Carr: Thank you!!! THIS x infinity (and beyond ;) I thought it was just me.

  10. cead
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 16:38:51

    @CK: No, absolutely not just you! I won’t start any book that clearly indicates it’s going to use that trope or finish one I’ve already started if it rears its head. Occasionally I have a very mild version of this happen to me in real life, which is fairly annoying.

  11. Kaetrin
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 05:14:10

    How disappointing. The premise was so promising (excuse the alliteration),,

  12. Jane Lovering
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 08:33:49

    @cead:
    Not the ‘just let me do it to you, you’ll love it once I get started’? Any man who tries that one on me takes his testicles home in a handy carry-bag I keep by the bed.

  13. Dani_O
    Jun 27, 2013 @ 11:29:06

    I actually really enjoyed Blush, and found the writing similar to Roni Loren’s series. I thought the author did a good job portraying how the relationship might play out, D/s wise, IF a billionaire found a regular woman in a bar. I see the point about skimming over the plot points, but my impression as I was reading was that that was just the author’s voice, her way of telling the story. All in all, I actually liked this book that Maya Banks’ new trilogy. Just IMHO.

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