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Billionaire Hero

REVIEW:  Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks

REVIEW: Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks

Dear Ms. Banks:

Those who read Dear Author regularly know that I have been on a billionaire kick for quite some time. A while ago, I read and recommended Rush, the first in your Breathless trilogy. I’m pleased to say that book three in the trilogy, Burn, worked just as well for me.

Burn: The Breathless Trilogy by Maya BanksAsh McIntyre is widely considered to be one of the wealthiest men on the planet. Along with his two best friends, Gabe and Jace, they own a hotel conglomerate that employs thousands and makes them millions. Up until now, Ash and Jace have always shared women, seducing them together, sleeping with them together, and leaving them together. But in the second book in the trilogy, Fever, Jace met the love of his life, Bethany, and is now officially off the market. With Gabe in the midst of planning his wedding, and Jace head over heels in love, Ash is at loose ends. He’s always been a free agent, never committing to one woman, but he’s now odd man out from his friends and their women. Ash is also estranged from his family, who are clinging social climbers who expect his total obedience to their wishes. Ash sees them infrequently, but they always manage to get under his skin. Generally, he avoids them and relies on his best friends for support and thinks of them as his family.

One day, while in the park, Ash sees a beautiful woman sketching on a notepad. He sees that she’s wearing a necklace that is far too expensive for the other clothes she has on, and immediately surmises that she’s wearing a collar, but not one that is all that suited to her personality. The woman is Josie, a local artist. Ash’s attraction is immediate, and he’s even more intrigued when he finds that she was sketching him. But no amount of charm will entice Josie to even have a cup of coffee with him. Ash realizes he is going to have to do some quick scrambling to find out more about Josie, who shuts him down completely. He discovers that she is a struggling artist. He knows she’s struggling because he has his man buy some jewelry she’s pawned. Then he discovers that her work is shown at a local gallery and decides to buy all of it. When Josie returns to the pawn shop to buy back her jewelry, she’s heartbroken to know it’s gone. It was all she had left of her mother and grandmother. But when she finds out that Ash has bought it, and he’s willing to return it to her, if she’ll only have dinner with him, she reluctantly agrees. When he sees that Josie is no longer wearing a collar, and discovers that it’s because she realized that the collar didn’t mean the same thing to her and her Dom, he immediately proposes that she become his submissive. He lays out for her exactly what it will entail, and she says she’ll need to think about it, and get back to him.

A week later, Josie still hasn’t gotten back to Ash and he’s going a bit out of his mind. When he discovers that Josie’s former Dom has beaten her for ending their relationship, his protective instincts go into overdrive.  He moves Josie into his home and takes care of her as she heals from the beating. Once she’s recovered, they begin a sexual relationship that involves some light D/s behaviors. And when Ash collars her, Josie is delighted. She has everything that she wants. But then she discovers that Ash has been keeping secrets from her, it makes her question his motive for everything. Will Ash be honest with Josie? And how can she ever forgive him for betraying her trust?

Now look, I know that this book requires a very specific suspension of disbelief, AND it requires the reader to forgive some relatively stalkerish behavior by the hero. And I also get that it’s not going to work for everyone. But man, I’m such a sucker for a hero who is solely focused on taking care of the heroine. I love the Caregiving Alpha trope more than any other. And Ash? Total caregiver. He can also be bossy, dominant and overbearing, which clearly will not work for some readers. But for me, his intent was so clear from the start, and I completely bought his love for Josie, and more, I bought their visceral connection to each other.

I’ve also always admired that your heroines always have girlfriends. In this case, the women who are with his best friends and their friends. There is an extended girls night out that I got a kick out of reading, but more, I liked that the women really supported each other in their own relationships and in the ones that they have with the men.

The story itself is tightly written and features some extremely tender sex scenes that I really enjoyed. While this book is not going to be for everyone, I truly enjoyed every moment and am happy to recommend it to reader who enjoy a dominant yet caregiving alpha hero. Final grade: B+

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Benson) by Lisa Renee Jones

REVIEW: Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Benson) by...

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Dear Ms. Jones:

I’ve never read one of your books before, but the fact that you have a reclusive billionaire as your hero was enough to sell me giving your book a try. Amy is at a work function in New York when she receives word from a man she knows only as her “handler” that she must leave New York immediately. She’s to go to the airport, find locker 111, retrieve that package of materials, which has new identification for her, and learn her new biography. She’s moving on from her life in New York and must do it post haste.

When she arrives at the airport, she finds that there is no record of her name on the flight manifest due to some sort of mistake by the airline. Fortuitously she is upgraded to first class and finds herself sitting next to a remarkably handsome man. He is Liam Stone, child prodigy architect and reclusive billionaire. They strike up a stilted conversation (Amy trusts no one at all) and Amy soon falls asleep. When she wakes up screaming, Liam soothes her. He discovers that Amy regularly suffers from nightmares and that she won’t talk about why. He immediately understands that she is fleeing something or someone, which in turn, brings out his protective instincts. When they disembark from the plane, Liam offers Amy a ride to her new apartment. Amy is deeply reluctant to accept help from anyone, but particularly Liam, who for reasons she doesn’t trust, makes her feel safe and cared for, emotions that have never gotten her anything but heartache in the past. Nevertheless, she allows Liam to take her to her new apartment, while she feeds him her story that she’s come to work on short term assignment for a real estate company. But when Liam walks into her sparsely decorated apartment, his protective instincts fire, despite Amy’s protests that her belongings will arrive in the morning (which is, of course, a lie). For reasons that surpass her understanding, Amy is inclined to trust Liam. He wants to possess and protect her, and for some reason, she keeps letting him. She doesn’t want his money, has no interest in the material goods he can give her, but she’s desperate for the safety she feels she has when she’s around him. Liam wants to build a future with Amy, so he works slowly on building her trust. Offering her glimpses into his past, and waiting for her to be able to offer him some inkling of what she’s running from.

Yeah, I know how Liam feels. I read the entire book and STILL have no idea what Amy is running from. While I thought that the writing was strong, and I liked the connection between the characters, I’m mystified as to what happened in her past to put her on the run, who her secret benefactor is, or what happened to her family. It’s a strangely written book, with Amy being a very unreliable narrator because the reader knows as little about her as Liam does. And the reader never learns more. There are little drips and drabs of her history, mostly told through flashbacks and panic attacks, all of which seemed unreliable to me, given her completely traumatized state throughout the book. On top of that, she’s wildly moody, as I suppose one would be when one is constantly on the run and so distrustful of anyone. But it made it very difficult for me to connect with her point of view, given that I didn’t believe most of what she saw or heard. I believed her reactions, but felt like they were coming from such a place of trauma, it was very difficult to have any faith in the way the story was unfolding before her.

That being said, I think that there are strong bones there. The writing is extremely solid. The sex is plentiful and hot. And Liam, despite being damaged himself is a really charming hero. He’s taciturn and difficult and moody himself, and deeply possessive of Amy. But it’s clear from the start that he’s interested, and then entranced by her and his emotions are very real for her. It made me like him a great deal. On top of that, the book ends in a cliff hanger. A BIG one, so I’m not sure it’s going to be for all readers. As for myself, despite myriad misgivings, I’ve got to see what happens next. I just hope that you provide a fulfilling and understandable backstory for Amy, because right now, I have a hard time believing her view point at all. Final grade: C+

Kind regards,
Kati

 

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