Review: Taking it All (Surrender Trilogy #3) by Maya Banks

No-Brainer

Title: Taking it All
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Group 8/5/14
Length:   320 Pages
Series:  Surrender Trilogy #3

Overview

In her sensational Breathless Trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks tested the boundaries of desire. In her new trilogy, there’s only one thing left to do: cross them. And for a married couple taking steps to renew their marriage, the consequences of one single moment of inattention may come at a price the husband never expects…

Chessy and Tate have been married for several years. In the beginning, their relationship was everything she wanted. Passionate. All-consuming. She offered her submission freely and Tate cherished her gift with a tenderness that made her feel safe. Content. Wanted. Loved beyond all measure. But as the years have gone by, Tate has become more immersed in making his business a success, and Chessy has taken a back seat to his business obligations. Growing unhappy with the status of their once blissful marriage, Chessy knows that something has to give, or they stand to lose it all.

Tate loves his wife. Has always loved her. Providing for her has always been his number-one priority. But lately she’s seemed unhappy, and he’s worried. Worried enough that he arranges for a night together that he hopes will reignite the fire that once burned like an inferno between them.

But a business call at the wrong time threatens everything. Chessy’s safety, his concentration, his wife’s faith in him as her husband—a man sworn to love and protect her above all else. Gutted with the realization that he’s going to lose her—has already lost her—he readies for the fight of his life. Whatever it takes, he’ll get her back, show her that nothing is more important than her love. And that if she’ll allow him to prove himself one more time, he’ll take it all. Everything. But he’ll give back far more: Himself. His undying love.

My Thoughts

We know the stories of Joss and Kylie and we know that Chessy’s marriage was picture perfect for a while but less so in recent years, It’s about time to understand what’s going on and then see if we can figure out what’s going to happen next.  It’s a roller coaster and at what point something that seemed way too easy to happen turns ugly.

Chessy, the woman who’s set herself up in the role to play the perfect wife,the perfect hostess and the perfect submissive finds herself in a situation where her husband of 5 years spends more time dealing with work and keeping his business running and successful than paying any mind to what makes Chessy happy.  Because of this, we see it all come crashing down, on the worst night possible – their anniversary.

On a night that’s supposed to be theirs and theirs alone, Tate does the unthinkable and puts work first, leading Chessy to explode and want out.  She’s finally forced to confront him, and surprisingly it’s almost like Tate didn’t even realize how bad it was.

This is where i felt like things changed way too quickly and easily and i should have given Maya Banks more credit.  See, all it took was some begging and pleading and promises that things will change, added on top a night of intense passion and heat, and they were back on track.  realistic right?  nope.

We spend some time lulled into a sense of security, allowing us to pick back up on some of the continued story lines of the other 2 couples, where we find that Joss is pregnant, and Kylie is beyond happy with Jensen, that it’s inevitable that the other shoe will drop.

on a night at The House – a private BDSM club, we see that Chessy is willing and excited to participate in a special scene arranged by her husband.  It’s then that things go awry that a final wedge is put between the couple and things are changed for good it seems.

The rest of this story takes us on a journey of a woman who’s forced to stand on her own, and be strong since she’s put up with so much, but has to remain stoic not to fall back into what was great in the past.  We know that Tate’s apologetic, but that’s not enough.  In this story – we see that Love isn’t always enough, and that’s a twist that i think that Ms Banks does well and was necessary to mix things up a bit here.

The ending of this story is one that i kind of expected, but added a nice dimension to things.  Not only do we get to see how Chessy continues her life and what the means for Tate, but we see an epilogue for Joss and Kylie as well – in a nice way to tie up their stories too, and give us closure on it all.

I’m really pleased with the dynamics in this series – i feel like each character was created with a specific role in mind, and while the ladies are quite similar as are the men, there are nuances that make each of them very unique so that you’re really interested and intrigued to what their story will mold into and what that will bring to the dynamic of the overall group.

On that note – have a great Monday all.

Review: Giving In (The Surrender Trilogy #2) by Maya Banks

No-Brainer

Title: Giving In
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Group 5/6/14
Length:   225 Pages
Series:  The Surrender Trilogy #2

Overview

In her sensational Breathless Trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks tested the boundaries of desire. In her new trilogy, there’s only one thing left to do: cross them. Now, the story continues as one woman, haunted by the shadows of the past, explores the possibilities of a new beginning in ways she never could have imagined…

Kylie sees the way Jensen looks at her. The dark promise in his eyes. That rough edge of dominance she knows he possesses. But dominance is the one thing that frightens her above all else. She and her brother barely survived a childhood steeped in violence and abuse. She could never give up total control and submit to a man. Especially a man like Jensen. Could she?

Jensen sees the shadows in Kylie’s eyes. Knows he has to tread very carefully or risk losing any chance he has with her. All he wants is the opportunity to show her that dominance doesn’t equal pain, bondage or discipline. That emotional surrender is the most powerful of all, and that to submit fully to him will fulfill the aching void in her heart in a way nothing else ever will.

My Thoughts

We return to the world that we met Dash and Joss in, to explore and dive deeper into what makes Kylie tick.  As you’ll remember, in book 1, Joss was getting over the death of her husband, that same man who is Kylie’s brother.  So we see that along with the death of her brother, the only person that she felt protected her from anything and loved her, she’s also trying to figure out how to live with all that she went through in abuse from her father when she was a child.  Of course, that means that she’s got an aversion to men, dominant men, so when Jensen Tucker comes in and takes on the role of Partner in their business, things go from ‘eh’ to downright uncomfortable.

Jensen quickly realizes that he doesn’t need to have his fully dominant persona be in play at all moments because he realizes that Kylie is what he wants and she’s terrified of all that.  In the same moment, Kylie realizes that while she’s got this disdain and hate for him, there’s also something else there.

Where we go in this 2nd installment of the series, is that we get to see Kylie being forced to come to terms with the confident and strong person that she is, along with finding herself to be able to be ‘happy’ and come alive at the hands of a man.

It’s a sweet story – one that we see time and time again though – both main characters have dark dark backgrounds that will of course pull them apart.  When they open themselves up to one another, we see that it does more harm than good – and Kylie ends up getting hurt and Jensen does what he thinks is best, which means breaking up with her and going their separate ways.  It’s only through girl squad power that Kylie is able to deal with things, and we see what that means for the remainder of the story.

One thing to note with this book – what we usually get from Ms Banks in the forms of a really hot and steamy, naughty book – all those elements are there, but i feel like something was missing.  it wasn’t as hard hitting as we usually get but i don’t know if it’s me. There are steamy bedroom scenes for sure – which are always core to what we get with Ms Banks, but i feel like the rest of the story was just a bit ‘less deep’ than we usually get.

In any event, i can’t wait to see what happens in book 3 with Chessy and Tate since we all know that something is brewing there.

Review: Letting Go (The Surrender Trilogy #1) by Maya Banks

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Title: Letting Go
Author:  Maya Banks
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Group USA  2/4/14
Length:  352 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #1

Overview

THE FIRST BOOK OF THE SURRENDER TRILOGY

In her sensational Breathless Trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks tested the boundaries of desire. In her new trilogy, there’s only one thing left to do: cross them. And never have the consequences of erotic exploration been so irresistibly inviting, so shockingly intimate, and so totally unexpected…

LETTING GO

Josslyn found perfection once, and she knows she’ll never find it again. Now widowed, she seeks the one thing her beloved husband couldn’t give her: dominance. Lonely, searching for an outlet for her grief and wanting only a brief taste of the perfection she once enjoyed, she seeks what she’s looking for at an exclusive club that caters to people indulging in their most hedonistic fantasies. She never imagined that what she’d find would be the one man who’s long been a source of comfort—and secret longing. Her husband’s best friend.

Dash has lived in an untenable position for years: in love with his best friend’s wife but unwilling to act on that attraction. He’d never betray his best friend. And so he’s waited in the wings, offering Joss unconditional support and comfort as she works past her grief, hoping for the day when he can offer her more.

When he finds her in a club devoted to the darker edges of desire, he’s furious because he thinks she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Until she explains in detail what it is she wants. What she needs. As realization sets in, he is gripped by fierce, unwavering determination. If she wants dominance, he is the only man who will introduce her to that world. He is the only man who will touch her, cherish her…love her. And the only man she’ll ever submit to.

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of all things related to this author – and while the story was good, i think that it was my own personal reading fail that made this story a bit less than amazing.  it took me a few extra days to get through it, but i think that there’s some great stuff here.

As the synopsis says, we meet Joss on the 2nd anniversary of her husband’s death and she’s trying to let him go to live her life.  Her husband’s best friend Dash is there as well, as always, being her rock and supporting her choices.  She’s never thought of him in more romantic terms, and seeing as how she has her own darker desires that she wants to fulfill, she’s never imagined what he can do for her.

It’s only when she actually takes action, against the wishes of some of her friends that her life changes.  She goes to the House  – owned by Damon Roche who we met in the Sweet series, and things go amok.  Joss goes, as planned but never gets to live out those fantasies.  Dash is there to her surprise and lays claim to her since that’s something that he’s wanted to do since the moment he met her even when she was married.

The journey that we go on in this story is twofold . one of learning to love and let go – Joss and Dash both being able to move on from Carson’s death and the other is of self discovery – Joss learning what her desires are and what makes her feel like a woman and allowing it.

there are 2 things that bummed me out here.  the entire time, i thought that Ms. Banks our author was trying to ellude to the fact that Carson’s car accident wasn’t an accident.  She kept saying Carson had a conversation with Dash not long before his death asking him to take care of Joss and his sister.  So, for me, i figured that it meant that something happened that he was worried about.

The other piece – and again i’ll say that it’s probably more my fault than the writing, i just wasn’t into the scening.  there was 1 in the beginning when they first come together as a couple that i felt was hot and passionate, but the others – they didn’t hold my attention and i found myself rushing through them to get to the meat of the story.  but…since i know that our author usually writes hot and steamy scenes, i’ll take this on myself.  Also, we only get a tease of BDSM here with one night at the club and a little bit of light bondage when i would have thought that we’d get more since that’s the lifestyle that Joss was craving.

Anyhow, it was a good intro to this trilogy and i can’t wait to see what happens.  i guess i need to finish the Sweet trilogy though cause i feel like i’ve missed something since there’s a character or 2 or 3 that i don’t know the back story on that i’m sure i would have if i had read it.

Review: Coming Home (The Surrender Trilogy #3) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Coming Home
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 1/21/14
Length: 300 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #3

Overview

The conclusion of the savage, sensual Surrender trilogy in which betrayal, pain, and vengeance threaten to destroy a passion between two damaged souls…

Evelyn “Scout” Keats thought she finally found her long-sought happiness in billionaire Lucian Patras. But even though Lucian has always treated her like a queen, she has discovered she is nothing more than a pawn in his own secret game.

Worse, her long-time friend and supposed shining knight, Parker Hughes has also used her for his own interests by playing a part in Lucian’s game. Everyone’s honor is suspect, and no one can be trusted. It is Scout’s worst nightmare come to life.

As she struggles to comprehend the cost of a broken heart and the value of love, she must choose, once and for all, how much her pride can endure—and how much she is willing to risk to be truly happy

My Thoughts

I have to say that i really enjoyed where this story went, and what i was expecting to be the case for some of the issues, actually wasn’t the case at all.  nicely done Ms. Michaels, Nicely done.

We re-join this ill working love triangle just as Evelyn has run away from both Parker and Lucien, after learning of the deal that was struck – making her in a sense a possession and breaking her trust.  From this point forward, Evelyn decides that she needs to be solely on her own, yet it’s not so easy.  while she has been able to put Parker in the back of her mind, her hatred for him being something that she can hold on to, she can’t quite let go of Lucien.  While she’s incredibly upset with him, she also loves him and isn’t able to move past it.

She has a plan though how she can forge a new path for herself.  not only does she have her job, but she wants to better herself, and this takes money.  She goes to Lucien to get a loan, hoping that he will be able to do that for her, without pulling her back in, but of course things aren’t so cut and dry.

We know that Lucien is barely surviving without her, and he’s more than ecstatic when she comes to him.  While he knows that it’s not going to be easy to get her back, he’s very persistent, and does what he can to keep some sort of attachment.

It’s only when Evenlyn is able to use the money that she got to get her own apartment that things turn worse to a point where Lucien really re-enters the picture.  On the 2nd night that she’s in her new place, she’s on her way home and crosses paths with some less than savory folks.  because of the ensuing fight, her information ends up in the papers, and Lucien finds her and isn’t very pleased.  He feels like he needs to protect her, and well, this is really the turning point for them.  It’s not all smooth sailing though from that point since she’s not ready to really let him back in.  it’s all at arms length.

One day while at work, she sees a tabloid with a picture of him and another woman and that sets her off.  She manages to attend the same function as him with another guy so that she can not only get a better sense of what’s going on with Lucien, but also to make him jealous.  it works.  This is the true turning point for things.  but never an easy task.

Just when things start to look up, rumors and information about Evenlyn is leaked to the press, Lucien feels he has to protect her even more, and the question becomes who’s behind it.  not only that, while Scout has the issue of her past haunting them, someone’s trying to mess with Lucien’s business and they have to sort out who that is.

So, as you can see, we have a very complex finale here, with a lot of passion in terms of love hate, love some more and hate some more.  Forgiveness among friends and family….perhaps, but maybe not….and then the concerns and questions for the future.

Lucien wants more than Evenlyn is still willing to give and it’s an underlying theme throughout on how much she’s going to give up, and what the sacrifice means.  There’s also a mystery of a secret that Evenlyn is keeping and that’s a bone of contention with Lucien.  there’s also the question of what will come of Pearl – whom we know is still in a rehab facility unhappily.  Will Lucien continue to pay, will she stay at rehab, will Evelyn and her form a better relationship?

There’s more role-playing in this final installment which is always entertaining, and quite a bit of passion as feelings are rekindled.  All in all, a nice conclusion.  I’m still surprised about some of the things that happened, and where the story took them, but overall, i think that it was nice…and the epilogue was sweet as well.  Not taking the story in the expected place  which is great, all the while, ending the story as it needed to be.

Review: Breaking Out (The Surrender Trilogy #2) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Breaking Out
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 11/19/13
Length: 300 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #2

Overview

Second in the darkly compelling, sexually-charged contemporary romance trilogy, in which two men vie for the mind, body, and heart of a woman who may never give in to their wishes—or her own…

Evelyn “Scout” Keats has left behind her painful past of surviving on the streets, and is now living in the luxurious penthouse master suite of Hotel Patras with her lover, billionaire Lucian Patras. But what she doesn’t know is the price Lucien paid for her freedom.

To protect Scout’s life, Lucian cut a deal with a dangerous man from her past, Parker Hughes. He swore to stay away from her for thirty days, even though he knows Parker will be fighting to keep them apart for good and take Scout as his own.

Yet neither man realizes that Scout is not about to be used as a prize or a bargaining chip for any man’s power play—and she falls back on her hard-earned self-respect and courage to show both men that the only person she truly needs is herself.

But Lucien has other plans…

My Thoughts

WOW!  so, i’m really enjoying this series so far in case you hadn’t noticed.  Not only is it steamy and romantic, you really have to wonder about the twists that are coming.  In the first installment, we meet Evelyn/Scout when she’s working as a maid at the prestigious Patras hotel when she encounters Lucien, the owner who makes her an offer she cannot refuse.  To be taken from homelessness and despair into a world of security with a roof over her head, clothes, food, and all just at the price of herself.  Being his company.  As we got to know this duo a bit more in book 1, we saw that there was much more there than just a deal, and this is what takes us into book 2.

There’s a fair bit of role playing that makes things really interesting at the onset – we see fantasies coming to life, and a sense of realism, it’s not all heated passion that we get, it’s adventure and romance and the thrill of things which kept me entertained.

In this 2nd installment, things definitely become more challenging for them, and Evenlyn isn’t sure what she’s able to give of herself because of the trust issues that she has from her mother.  This story takes us on the journey of Lucien trying to show Evenlyn how strong she is, but being patient with her in the skills that she wants to develop, all the while, allowing his love for her to grow and becoming vocal about it.  The issue here though is that while Evelyn appreciates that, she’s not able to tell him how she feels.  she shows it, but doesn’t say it, and it becomes a bit of a wall between them.

At the same time, Parker, Evelyn’s best friend from the streets comes back around and really wants to make a play for her affection.  His deal that he’s struck with Lucien (from back in book 1, as a reminder that in order for Parker to tell Lucien where Evelyn was, he had to give Parker a job and then give him a chance at wooing Evelyn).  Lucien was banking on that time not coming for quite some time, so that he can build the security that he has with Evelyn and convince her that there’s no one else for her.

As we saw in book 1, Parker and Slade cross paths and since we know there’s been a falling out with Lucien and Slade over Evelyn, it’s not surprising that Parker has been helped by Slade and is now able to take full advantage of the deal.

the question is – what will happen now right?

Lucien’s made a big gesture to Evelyn in the hopes that it’ll secure his place in her life and vice versa, it back fires a bit unexpectedly and Evelyn runs to Parker.  Lucien fears that his world is coming tumbling down now, ends up flying to Paris to see his father whom he has no relationship with because of his own indiscretions and all in all you have a huge mess.

Where we’re left off in book 2 is quite the edge of a cliff – we’re at a turning point where it’s a matter of pride, love and friendship that makes things the most complicated, and you have to wonder how paths are going to cross again.

Personally though, i’m most intrigued by what Slade’s doing and what his motivation is.  I wonder what the story is there and i have my inklings about it.  I’m also curious why Parker is the way that he is and what he plans to do with it.  We get his back story a bit more, but still…i’m left wondering.

I really enjoy though how Lucien’s character is written.  He’s not afraid to be emotional and show how he feels which we don’t often see.  We see him lose control of things, go into a tail spin but it all comes from a great place.  He has this sensuality that he shares with Evelyn that’s amazing.

I’ve just got my hands on book 3 the finale in the series and i can’t wait to see how they get to the end point, and hopefully my intuitions are correct on how things will pan out.  Enjoy!

Review: Falling In (The Surrender Trilogy #1) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Falling In
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 9/17/13
Length: 309 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #1

Overview

The debut of an emotionally charged and highly erotic contemporary romance trilogy, in which love and trust are the most dangerous games of all…

With a dark past that would have shattered most people, Evelyn “Scout” Keats is doing what no one in her bleak world thinks possible—getting off the streets and leaving her impoverished life behind. She’s a new maid at the luxurious Patras Hotel, and aims to keep her job no matter what. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to sacrifice her dignity, or let anyone into her heart. The risk of losing either is just too great.

When hotel tycoon Lucian Patras discovers Evelyn in a compromising position, he uses everything at his disposal to seduce her—a proposition that both surprises and frightens her.

Ignorant to her true circumstances, Lucian relentlessly pursues Scout as a prize to be won. But he is soon given an unforgettable lesson in love and sacrifice when he learns how far Scout has gone to gain her independence and discovers that there are some things money can never buy.

My Thoughts

Based on the premise of these characters, i got a bit of a sense of Maya Bank’s Fever Trilogy – since we first meet a girl who’s homeless and trying to make it honestly, while encountering her ‘boss’ in a sense.

We meet Scout / Evelyn when she’s rushing to make it to her new job – the high end Patras hotel where she’s a maid.  It’s there that her life changes forever.  It’s on the day that she fills in for another maid Bridget who usually works on the Penthouse level that she meets a man who’s staying/living there that things change.  She accidentally knocks papers off his desk just when he enters the room, and that’s where things go downhill.  He gets mad because he thinks she’s snooping and of course that’s not the case since she can’t read.  From there – the roller coaster ensues.

The man, Lucien Patras, owner of the hotel propositions Scout to do something that would make her life so different, yet take her out of her comfort zone.  He offers her a roof over her head in a room in the hotel, clothing and everything that she could want.  All for the trade off of her ‘company’ which of course means more than just being by his side at biz functions.  In Scout’s mind, there’s a trade-off of course because while she really wants the shelter and the goods that she can sell for money in the future when things end, she’s not ready to give herself to him given that she’s a virgin.

Some how, Lucien manages to convince her to agree, and their relationship grows and builds from there.  Scout does her best to keep her past a secret and Lucien begins to unravel her story.  They begin to grow together, which turns out to be not such a good thing for a few people.

Scout’s best friend is Parker, a boy that she met a few years back on the streets, and while she considers him to be her best friend, Lucien knows that Parker is in love with her.

The other guy – Slade is Lucien’s business partner and best friend.  He doesn’t take a liking to Scout and actually really dislikes her to the point that there’s a falling out, which of course is a foreshadowing.

What makes things more exciting though is that while this story could be a streamlined version of the usual – down on her luck girl meets rich guy, gets schooled in all things passionate and sexual….that’s not what we get here.  There’s a deal that Parker scores with Lucien in the hopes that he can make Scout his…and that complicates things .

I have to say though, that all in all, the writing of this story is nice.  i’ve been stuck in a rut lately where some authors don’t write the heated scenes in a way that makes me want to read more, but these were steamy scenes.   Even the instances where they hadn’t fully consummated their relationship, it was still hot and i really appreciate that.

I can’t wait to see where book 2 goes since the very end of this introduction story takes us to a ‘dark’ place.  It’ll be interesting for sure to see who’s going to fight for what, what tactics they’ll use, and where passions will net out.