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REVIEW: Cherished by Maya Banks,Lauren Dane

Dear Ms. Banks & Ms. Dane,

Both of you are “auto-buy” authors for me, although lately, I’m having much better luck with Ms. Dane than with Ms. Banks. Generally speaking, I avoid novellas of any sort because I find that the build up to “I love you” is not drawn out enough for my tastes. But given that generally I enjoy your writing styles so much, I was happy to give this duology a shot.

Cherished-revised-1
Exiled by Maya Banks

Talia Monteforte is a young woman who worked at the palace in Cristofino, a fictional kingdom. She meets Prince Alexander after she inadvertently knocks some flowers off of a table in front of the king and Xander helps clean it up. The prince takes one look at Talia and is captivated. He is determined to find out more about her. The first thing he finds is that she’s young and has a mother who is very sick. He decides to provide for Talia and her mother with the understanding that at some point, he’ll call Talia to him and she must come without question. That day comes when Talia is 22 years old. She’s brought to an island paradise in the Caribbean where the prince has been in exile during political unrest in his country. Talia isn’t stupid, she’s well aware that she’s being brought to the island to act as mistress to the prince for six months — she read the contract he sent her requiring her to submit to anything he desires of her. In exchange for her submission, she’ll be pampered beyond her wildest dreams. Part of Talia’s submission involves having sex not just with Xander, but with his three closest friends, Nico, Garon and Sebastian any time they wish.

This book struck me as very Harlequin Presents-ish, if HP had a four heroes/one heroine line (“The Prince, His Security Team and the Virgin Florist”?!). Xander is beyond autocratic, and the other three heroes seemed distinguishable to me only by their penis size (he’s Mr. Super Huge, he’s Mr. Super Thick, he’s Mr. Long But Hits Me in All the Right Places). There was no true emotional connection between Talia and any of the heroes. I didn’t really understand why she would have fallen in love with Xander, who behaves as a dictatorial ass most of the time. Just as big an issue for me is that I’m finding more and more that books about one heroine and four heroes just don’t do it for me at all. There is one particular sexual encounter involving oral sex that literally left my stomach upset for the poor heroine. I understand that there are many readers who will find multiple-partner, every orifice love scenes scintillating but any more for me these scenes end up coming off as stomach turning. The lack of enticing sex scenes plus not one, but FOUR autocratic heroes make this novella a miss for me.

Exiled gets a D from me.

Sway by Lauren Dane

My favorite series by Lauren Dane is the Brown Siblings series. The final book in the series introduced a new group of characters, the Delicious dinner club. The first installment in the Delicious series focuses on Daisy, a 24-year old artist who meets Levi, an 40-year old attorney when he comes to take dance lessons at a studio where she is subbing for an absent teacher. Levi doesn’t need lessons, and is resentful that the bride (his future sister-in-law) has forced him to attend. But once he’s holding Daisy in his arms, he’s convinced that the dance lessons were a great idea, need them or not. When Levi sees Daisy again, hanging a fabulous piece of art in an office building he frequents, he decides he really must ask her to dinner. Daisy, feeling the connection too, happily agrees to have dinner with Levi. At dinner, the sparks between them are flying. Soon they are intimate, and both are really happy with their connection. That is, until Levi’s family comes into play. Levi lost his wife years ago, and even though the family’s memory of her is much happier that the reality of her was, he’s hesitant to introduce his 24-year old girlfriend to them. But when Levi’s troll of a sister-in-law has a chance encounter with Daisy at a posh restaurant where she and Levi are eating, Levi realizes that he’s going to have to find a way to smooth things over both with his family and with Daisy.

I’m already in love with the characters for this series. And I really enjoyed the older man, younger woman scenario in this story. My complaint is really a singular one – I wanted more time with the characters. Daisy is such a vital, interesting personality, and I felt like the story would have only been more vibrant with a higher word count to fully flesh out her romance with Levi. I liked Levi a lot and I enjoyed the subtle D/s relationship that you built between them. The sex was spicy and entertaining, and I believed the characters were headed towards a happy ending, despite the fact that I felt that the ending was somewhat rushed. This is a series that I am delighted with and can’t wait to read more of.

Sway gets a B+ from me.

Overall the Cherished duology gets a C+, with one novella working far better for me than the other.

Kindest 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.

7 Comments

  1. Jenny Lyn
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 10:08:29

    Great review, Kati. I wonder, is there a way to get one without the other?

  2. MrsJoseph
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 12:05:37

    @Jenny Lyn:

    Agreed. I’ve been having the same problem with Maya Banks lately…

  3. Nikki
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 13:22:51

    I had the same opinion. I think the Maya Banks book read like an attempt at an erotic version of an HP. I agree abut the oral sex scene. The subsequent group scene was more horrifying for me than anything else. I kept thinking this sounds painful. I had questions like, so she went to university.. for what? The only hint that the Talia might have been a real person was her relationship with her mother which only gets a hint of mention in the book. I think a multi-partner book can be interesting but it depends on how it was written. This book felt more like there was a formula and it involved 4 autocratic males and x number of sex scenes. Perhaps if she had actually written an organized tale and fleshed them out beyond basic caricatures the story might have worked.

    I think that was the entire difference with Sway. It was noticeably the shorter story in this set but it was tighter and better written. The characters had depth and I was interested int heir romance and how it turned out. I also agree that they would have been interesting in a full book. My hope is that as she writes the books for the other friends we can get the relationship continuity.

  4. yota
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 17:30:57

    Is it sad I want to read this just so I can understand what was iffy about the oral scene? Vague mentioning just makes me want to know what all the fuss is about.

  5. Jenny Lyn
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 18:11:52

    @Nikki: It is the beginning of a new series, sort of a spin-off from the Brown books. I went to her website after I read this to check it out.

    @yota: I don’t think you really want to know. If I had to guess, it was being used like a sex doll and body fluids. Nuff said.

  6. Kaetrin
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 23:35:06

    Wish we could get the Dane story separately. $9.99 is too much to pay for 1 novella – I don’t think I’d like the Banks story. (Although, like Yota, I’m curious (kind of horrified but still curious) about the oral scene…)

  7. Anne V
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 09:35:36

    The Banks story is icky – it’s very flat and graphic and just weird. The Dane story is tightly written and charming and an excellent use of the form.

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