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REVIEW: Rush (The Breathless Trilogy) by Maya Banks

Dear Ms. Banks:

When I heard you were publishing a “50-esque” trilogy, I knew immediately that it would be on my reading list. Although I have hit-or-miss luck with some of your books, you write dandy alpha males, and I love nothing better than your dominant males, so I was optimistic about this reading experience for me. On top of this, the book features one of my all time favorite tropes: I’m in love with my best friend’s little sister. Turns out, I was right, Rush worked for me on almost every level and I’m even more excited for Fever, the next in the trilogy.

Rush (The Breathless Trilogy) by Maya BanksGabe Hamilton has been attracted to Mia Crestwell for a while now. But he’s known her since she was young, and she’s the apple of her incredibly over protective brother, Jace’s eye. Jace is Gabe’s best friend and is a business partner (along with Ash – book 3 of the Breathless trilogy), so he’s steered clear. But upon seeing the now 24-year old Mia enter the ballroom of a hotel for one of his company’s hotel openings, he decides it’s time to act on his attraction. Mia has been in love with Gabe since she was 16, but has always known that he was way out of her league. He’s known as quite the ladies man, and she knows that his divorce crushed any ability to love that he might have had. But she can’t help being attracted to his dominating spirit and his incredible good looks. So when Gabe asks her to dance, and then hustles her out to the balcony and lays an earth shattering kiss on her, she’s floored. She’s even more shocked when he tells her to be at his office at 10 a.m. sharp the next day. What the heck just happened??

Mia arrives at Gabe’s office the next day determined to figure out what he was thinking and get any unresolved issues out of the way. She spends a lot of time with her older brother and his business partners and she can’t have whatever that was making the situation uncomfortable. When Gabe tells her that he’d like to hire her as his personal assistant, she’s surprised. Jace had been allowing her to work at a bakery while she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She’s not really considered working in an office, and certainly doesn’t want to deal with nepotism accusations. On top of that, Gabe presents Mia with a contract. The contract is an agreement that she will cede her body to him, agreeing to allow him to have sex with her, dominate her, use pain play, or anything else he deems appropriate. She’s shocked. She’s no virgin, but had never considered some of the details outlined in the contract. She knows she wants Gabe, and was moderately aware that Gabe had some particular proclivities, but she had no idea what his relationships involved. He gives her the weekend to consider both offers, and after reading and re-reading the contract, she agrees.

From the start, Gabe warns Mia not to fall in love with him. He’s very clear that this will be a private arrangement between them. Mia realizes her first day on the job that while Gabe thinks they’re being circumspect, his staff is more aware than he thinks of the way he conducts his relationships and the talk immediately fires up about the two of them. Gabe involves Mia in almost all aspects of his business. But while he’s busy wheeling and dealing, he’s also busy stealing naked moments in his office, or any other location he feels like it with Mia. And she loves every moment of it. Gabe pushes her boundaries, makes her want more, and is challenging her routinely to use her brains to become an integral part of  his business. It’s a heady mix. But Gabe does not want Jace to know of his and Mia’s relationship, knowing full well that Jace will absolutely lose his mind when he finds out, and that it could damage their incredibly close friendship. Yet, the more time he spends with Mia, the more drawn to her he is. Will he allow himself to finally fall in love again and risk everything he’s spent a lifetime building?

I really enjoyed every moment of this book. Gabe is domineering and dominant, but also a caregiver. It’s obvious from the beginning that he cherishes Mia, and is falling in love with her, even as he denies his feelings. If I had any complaints, it’s that he is a bit obsessive, which can be off putting, and he does make a giant jerk move toward the end of the book. But he knows he’s screwed up and gives some most excellent romance novel hero grovel, which I loved. As for Mia, she’s smart and instantly relatable, and she calls Gabe on his bullshit, which I loved. This is a couple whose love story I engaged in fully, and relished seeing them get their happy ending.  As soon as I finished the book I wanted more, which is always a really positive sign. I give Rush a B+, particularly for those who enjoy a strong, alpha hero.

Kind regards,

Kati

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Kati Brown

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.

34 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:06:33

    Sold! I had actually preordered this and I’m so glad I did because like you, I love pretty much all the tropes Banks was writing about in this book. I’m glad to hear it wasn’t just a 50 shades knock-off though. Sounds like Banks does a better job of it all in all. Great review!

  2. Kate Hewitt
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:12:52

    Unfortunately it’s $13 for an ebook! That seems like a very steep price to me,

  3. Kati
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:38:50

    @Kate Hewitt: I have a vague recollection that she mentioned that they were discounting the eBook for a brief period. Let me look around and I’ll see if I can post the details. I think the discount is to $7.99, so it’s not a deep one, but a little less painful than $13.99.

  4. Kati
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:40:24

    Yup, found it. This is from her Facebook page:

    Hey gang, release day for RUSH is almost here! eek!! Just two more days :)) I wanted to mention, as I’m sure many of you have seen, the price for the ebook has been discounted to 7.99. Trade books are typically 9.99 (sometimes more) Yeah, I know it sucks! BUT my publisher has discounted RUSH (yay!) BUT and this is what I want to make you aware of. The discounted price isn’t permanent, at least from what I’ve been told, so if you have plans to buy the digital book from Amazon, BN, Kobo etc make sure you get it while the price is still 7.99

    I have not been made aware of how long they plan to keep the discounted promotional price, but if I’m told a specific date that the price will go up, I’ll be certain to give you as much of a heads up as I can so you can purchase it cheaper.

    I’m really hoping the promotional pricing is a huge success so that it will pave the way for cheaper ebook pricing all around. Wouldn’t that be awesome??

    I’ll be posting more links and news as I get them, both here and on my website. Can’t wait for Tuesday and I hope y’all will enjoy the start of the Breathless Trilogy :) xoxo ♥ ♥ ♥

    It’s definitely discounted at Amazon and B&N. I don’t see it on Kobo, or ARE

  5. Mandi
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:43:57

    I’m going to have to go in the opposite direction here and say how much this one did not work for me. I found it so cold and so unromantic. Some of the things Gabe has the heroine perform….gave me the bad shivers. I was really turned off. Maybe I’m just not a super dominant hero girl.

  6. mari
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:48:11

    If I didn’t know anything at all about employment l
    aw , I’d go for this one…..all I can think of while reading this review is how much in damages she’s going to be entitled to, if the relationship sours,and the fact its actually in the form of a physical contract….Good gravy, did HR approve this thing???

    I know, I know we are in romance fantasy land here,but somethings are just too much for me , thanks for the review, but think I ‘ll pass on this one!

  7. Kati
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 12:54:34

    @Mandi: Mandi – We chatted a little bit about this on Twitter, so I’m unsurprised by the fact that you didn’t like it. For me, yes, he was UBER dominant. And sometimes in a really negative way. But when he pulls his big jerk move, and experiences the fall out from that, his grovel, which was superb, IMHO, was enough for me to forgive him and believe that he’d learned the error of his ways.

    But what he did was distasteful. And I completely understand readers who felt like the heroine was debased or treated in a way that was offputting. For me, the entirety of his apology and my belief that he understood what he’d done was enough to redeem him in my eyes.

  8. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 13:47:59

    How did the heroine feel about his debasing actions/mistreatment? Was she enjoying it or not enjoying it? Just wondering.

  9. Kati
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 13:58:17

    @Jill Sorenson: She was not happy, but submitted, and once it goes wrong, he stops them. I don’t want to spoil it, but he misreads the situation and takes corrective action as soon as he understands what’s going on.

  10. Mandi
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 13:58:51

    @Kati:

    I also should note I didn’t finish the book, so I didn’t get to see him try to redeem himself. SO – maybe I would have come around more.

  11. Mikaela
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 14:00:16

    I like Maya Banks, but I did have problems with Sweet Persuasion, so I think I’ll wait for a better price ( I live in Sweden, so it isn’t available at 7.99. Unfortunately.)

  12. Kate Hewitt
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 14:11:17

    Thanks for letting me know about the discounted price. I live in England, so I can’t get it, and the ebook is still £8 (which is about $13). But I’ll keep my eye out to see if they offer a discount over here :)

  13. Lia
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 14:17:32

    In the Netherlands Kobo sells it for 10,39. Bit steep for an e-book, I’ll probably wait for the price to come down. Tons of books still waiting on my e-reader :-)

  14. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 14:38:31

    @Kati: Okay, thanks. Now I’m wondering what would have happened if she’d enjoyed it. No epiphany or grovel? Hmm. I’ve enjoyed some of Banks’ edgier works (Sweet Persuasion and Fourplay) so I might try this.

  15. Kati
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 14:41:25

    @Jill Sorenson: I hope you’ll let me know what you think if you decide to try it, Jill.

  16. cbackson
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 16:04:38

    I don’t know what it is, but a lot of Banks’ books give me the shivers, and not in a good way. I think it’s Sweet Persuasion where the heroine is always barefoot, right? I found that entirely relationship to be sort of unsettlingly infantilizing. In fact, I think that most of her books with super-dominant heroes read that way to me.

  17. Ducky
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 20:10:09

    There is something about the way Banks writes sex that gives me the creeps.
    And I like Kristen Ashley books so I am not opposed to alpha males on principle.

    And $13 for an e-book – boggles.

  18. lawless
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 22:27:38

    I’m with Mari — my mind boggles at the idea of him offering her a job at the same time as he hands her a written BDSM contract. Forget about the consequences of a breakup; that reads to me like quid pro quo sexual harassment from the getgo: agree to be my sex slave, and I’ll employ you. Even if he says that one isn’t contingent on the other, the timing sure makes it look that way. Not only is that a great basis for a sexual harassment lawsuit, it’s a form of coercion.

  19. Kaetrin
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 22:33:19

    I’m about to review this one on audio. I’m not sure how my ears will cope with the explicit sex but we shall see. I also don’t know anything about the narrator, Adam Paul.
    What I can say is that it is available at Audible for $9.79 or 1 credit and I’m in Australia so I think that there’s few (if any) geo restrictions on it. If you’re an Audible member and like the sample narration, then maybe this pricepoint will be better for some readers/listeners.

  20. Prachi
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 05:41:19

    @Kati: I normally do like a possessive alpha hero, but this just didn’t work for me. I had no trouble believing Gabe’s lust and even love for her – but I don’t think his feelings justify his actions. What really pissed me off was that he calls himself on his bullshit yet does nothing towards it, he just accepts that yes he’s an asshole and is going to behave like one. This book had a lot of internal monologuing , for me, and not enough action. Even Mia – she recognized she’s being used, that her job is fluff- but she sucks it up. Because she’s always liked him, because she signed a contract (Okay!who does this? Where does this happen?) She only demands to be treated right at the last straw- why? Why wait before a person treats you badly 546 times?
    I normally do really like Maya Banks – but this one just didn’t work for me.

  21. Jane
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 07:30:54

    The scene in the middle of the book involving three other business associates really ruined the book for me. I could not come back from that. I understand that it was a dark moment and pivotal in the relationship but it came off as abusive of the heroine. Her consent wasn’t clearly given and the hero didn’t do enough to protect her in the situation, becoming complicit in her harm. So it wasn’t just a giant jerk move for me. I had a hard time understanding how the heroine could trust him after that.

    While I love the idea of the “in love with my brother’s best friend”, Gabe came off cold and heartless and Mia deserved a lot better for herself. Had her brother known how Gabe was treating her, I don’t think he would have been so sanguine about their coupling.

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  23. Kati
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 08:09:56

    @Jane: I think more than a few readers are going to have the same reaction, Jane. For whatever reason, Gabe’s apology after the Paris incident and her acceptance of it made it OK for me. I’ve read several of Banks’ books where what I perceived as debasement was NOT OK with me. But I think because by the time the scene occurred in Rush, I was fully invested in the characters’ relationship, I gave him a pass.

    I would have had a harder time with Gabe’s treatment of Mia had I not really believed that he was in love with her from the beginning and that all of his talk about “don’t fall in love with me” was directed more at himself than her.

  24. Jane
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 09:41:45

    @Kati: But to me that was just another sign of his selfishness. It was all about him, all the time, and the Paris scene was the ultimate act of selfishness. “I’m going to debase her so I can show myself (and her) how detached I am.”

  25. Ridley
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 16:00:48

    The half-dozen Banks books I’ve read left me with the impression of a vanilla woman writing “kink” for vanilla readers. It’s never resembled any ethical kink I’m familiar with and unethical kink is just abuse with more syllables.

    Her heroes also see the heroines as a treasured object rather than an equal partner. They never seem sorry for hurting the heroine so much as sorry that they might have lost the opportunity to keep the heroine.

    I haven’t read this one, and I won’t, but the criticisms many of you have for this one sync up with my impression of her other books.

  26. Kate L
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 19:42:33

    @Ridley wrote: Her heroes also see the heroines as a treasured object rather than an equal partner. They never seem sorry for hurting the heroine so much as sorry that they might have lost the opportunity to keep the heroine.

    And there it is! Thank you Ridley for putting into words what has put me off in the 2 Banks books I’ve read (or attempted to read…trouble finishing them).

  27. eggs
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 19:43:48

    Maya Banks is VERY hit or miss with me. I either love them or can’t get more than a few chapters in and then give up. I think some of it is to do with the fact that her heros often balance on the knife edge of acceptably dominant/total asshole. I’m not sure exactly what tips them one way or the other for me, but tip it does. From the comments here, I suspect this one might tip to the asshole side for me. That being said, Ms Banks has made this one available for Aussies to buy at the 7.99 price which is ridiculously cheap for us, so I bought it anyway!

  28. Kaetrin
    Feb 07, 2013 @ 00:30:40

    I wonder if this book will work better for me because there is grovel. In the last 2 “Sweet” books, I was bothered by scenes where the heroine was “given” to strangers – it was all consensual and the heroine enjoyed it but for me, it strayed too far from romance for my enjoyment. I don’t mind reading about threesomes etc but the ones which work for me tend to be where all parties know each other and have some level of care for each other (eg, Grey, Faith and Micah in the first Sweet book), with rare exceptions. In Rush, I gather that there is something in the same vein but it is not to the heroine’s liking – as this share’s my own view, I might actually like it better because the hero will have to grovel to her (and vicariously, to me), something I missed in previous books.

    Also, can I just say that the “contract” is ridiculous. I can buy it for the sake of the story, but when I studied basic business law for a paralegal course some years ago, they talked about vague and unspecific clauses being void and unenforceable. The contract doesn’t specify anything really – it just kind of says “I, Gabe, can do anything I like.” Talk about vague and unspecific! And, like others have mentioned above, my inner HR professional is putting her fingers in her ears and screeching LA LA LA.

  29. Kati
    Feb 07, 2013 @ 07:01:21

    @eggs: You’ve actually put your finger on how I feel about a lot of Maya Banks’ work too. As my reviews here at DA bear out, I either really enjoy her stuff or strongly dislike it. There doesn’t seem to be any in between for me. I was actually surprised that I enjoyed this one, although I will say that I’m not surprised that a lot of readers had a negative reaction to it.

    @Kaetrin: To be clear, Gabe’s grovel is NOT about the giving of Mia to others. He pulls her from that situation after it goes badly and comforts her and does apologize, but his grovel is for a later transgression. She forgives him for the Paris thing almost at once. I just don’t want there to be a false expectation…

    @Ridley: I think, Ridley, that you have put your finger on why Banks doesn’t work for a lot of readers. The whole “treasured object” comment accurately portrays why some of her books don’t work for me. I think this one did because I knew they had a history, and I felt we were treated to enough of Gabe’s inner monologue that I *knew* he was in love with her, even as he denied it. But I totally understand what you’re saying.

  30. Kaetrin
    Feb 07, 2013 @ 20:18:35

    @Kati: Two grovels/apologies in one book?! I’m shocked!! LOL.

    I’m even more curious as to what this “Paris” thing is all about now.

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  32. Nicole
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 14:00:11

    Ridley, you’ve nailed it for me. I haven’t decided whether I’ll buy this book (although definitely not at the current price!), but I just finished rereading Colters’ Woman, and that book squicked me out much more this time than when I first read it. The imbalance of power is just staggering. While the brothers in the book profess to love the heroine, she felt to me like a woman in a bad situation who looked for any port in a storm. They treated her like a possession to be protected, but did not in any meaningful way treat her like a partner. The fact that she was favorably contrasted with a woman who was a law enforcement officer feels more telling and important to me this time around than it did the first time I read the book.
    I think I may prefer the premise of Rush, where at least the imbalance is spelled out in the terms of their agreement.

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  34. Parker
    Aug 24, 2013 @ 01:49:58

    I just finished “Rush.” On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the best) I have to give this book…3 stars. (If I happened to be in a more critical mood I”d probably give this book 2 stars, but I’ll be nice for this one.) First of all, what I do like about the book is Mia’s character. She has no problem standing up for herself, but when it came to Gabe’s contract she just let him take total control of her life. (I didn’t like that) To me, that seemed to be a contradiction to her character. As for Gabe…he might as well be Christian Gray’s son. (too bad Gabe’s name didn’t happen to be, “Ted”) I don’t know what it is with the male leads in these romance stories, but they’re ALL THE SAME! From Christian to Gabriel to Simon, and to Bennett and Max. They are all just…so incredibly stupid when it comes to the women they love! It’s frustrating! But, I guess if they weren’t so stupid, we wouldn’t have all these romance books. I swear, if the men in this world are as incredibly stupid as the men in these romance books, I might keel over. One thing I’ve learned from this book as well as other romance novels I’ve read is that love makes you stupid. Literally. If anything it lowers your IQ. One more thing I forgot to add about this book is that there is too much sex. Throughout the entire book, I felt like I was reading a smaller or baby version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I will give credit to the author; she is a good writer, I’ll give her that, but, this book wasn’t entirely original in my opinion.

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