Review: Just One Touch

Review: Just One TouchJust One Touch (Slow Burn, #5) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #5
Published by Avon on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352

“But the simple truth was that he needed her every bit as much as she needed him, and he couldn’t come up with a reason that made any sense to him.”

FINAL DECISION:  A good romantic suspense with a paranormal bent.  The weakest part of the story is the instant love between the main characters.  That being said, the two are a good match and the story is well paced and filled with twists.

THE STORY: Isaac Washington comes out to his car after getting coffee and bagels to find someone attempting to steal his vehicle.  Instead of the thief he expected, Isaac finds Jenna — a young abused woman who is fleeing for her life.  When Isaac is shot by her pursuers, he finds out why.  Jenna saves Isaac’s life when she heals his mortal wound.  Once he meets her, Isaac, who works for Devereaux Security is determined to use his skills to protect this vulnerable woman.

OPINION:  This was a good suspense story with a paranormal twist as is true of the other book in the Slow Burn series.

The main weakness of the story from my view is the instant love aspect.  Before the two even know anything about one another, there is something between them.  (That works in many books where there is a paranormal or supernatural aspect, but here there is no “mate” or explanation for the instant connection).  But this book is anxious to get into the suspense story and deep into the potential of the relationship.  I can put aside my initial disbelief in the instant love if the rest of the story is good…and this one worked for me.

Isaac is a strong alpha protector and is determined to protect Jenna and make those who have harmed her pay.  While he is possessive, he is also completely devoted to Jenna from almost the moment that they meet.  He throws over everything in his life to help her.  While the devotion appears unrealistic at times, it also jacks up the tension and suspense in the story because the immediate devotion he has for Jenna makes the story move.

Jenna begins the story abused and weak.  But she does not stop there.  Much of the story is about Jenna discovering herself and obtaining autonomy over herself.  There are quite a few twists and turns in the story and I don’t want to give any of the plot away because the suspense is an essential part of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Readers should be willing to accept Banks version of the Alpha male who is possessive with a lot of talk about the heroine belonging to him.  Some might find it a little too aggressive and controlling.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  JUST ONE TOUCH is the fifth book in the Slow Burn series.  While there are overlapping characters, this story is independent of others in the series and can be read alone.  There are plenty of appearances by the characters from the other books and readers of those books will be happy for the updates.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in order to write a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: With Every Breath

Review: With Every BreathWith Every Breath (Slow Burn, #4) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #4
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on August 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION:  More personal journey than romance, I liked the suspense aspect of this book and for that give it 3 stars.  I wish there was more romance but it reads more like a suspense book with some romance than a straight romance.

THE STORY:  Eliza Cummings thought that she had left her past behind her when she discovers that the serial killer she knew when she was a teenager is getting out of prison.  Determined to make sure that he never hurts anyone again, she is willing to leave all her loved ones behind to protect them. Wade Sterling knows that there is something wrong with Eliza and intends to find out all her secrets.  Wade and Eliza are engaged in a dangerous game with a man who has psychic abilities and who can make people do, think and feel what he wants.

OPINION:  This story is really about Eliza’s dealing with her past and her plan for taking out a serial killer.  While there is a romance, there is no buildup or real conflict other than Wade finding out about Eliza’s past.  I happen to like my stories flipped with more romance than suspense.

The story was good, but not as creepy or engaging as others in the series and so I was a bit disappointed.  After the buildup, the confrontation with the “bad guy” was too quick.  Also, unlike other books in the series where the psychic element was a big part of the story, here it felt more like an afterthought that had little impact on the story.

Despite that, I liked Eliza and Wade together.  I just wish that more time had been spent on developing their relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING:  No idea where the series goes from here as far.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WITH EVERY BREATH is the fourth book in the Slow Burn series.  This book can be read as a standalone although there are references to events in the other books of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Dominated

Review: DominatedDominated (The Enforcers, #2) by Maya Banks
Series: The Enforcers #2
Published by Berkley on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352

“Evangeline. His angel. He’d found her. Finally.”

FINAL DECISION:  I loved the first book in this series and had high hopes for this second book.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that the relationship between Evangeline and Drake developed at all and Drake’s poor treatment of Evangeline never really gets better.

THE STORY: Beginning right where the events of MASTERED ended, DOMINATED tells the story of Drake and Evangeline. Drake has devastated Evangeline with his treatment of her.  Trying to protect her, Drake savaged her emotionally in front of his business rivals. Evangeline has left Drake and now Drake is determined to find her and get her to forgive him.

OPINION: I had high hopes for this book.  I really loved the first book in the series and couldn’t wait until this book came out to complete Drake and Evangeline’s story.  Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed.  The problem for me was that Drake and Evangeline’s emotional story didn’t progress at all.  It has seemed at the end of MASTERED that Drake had reached a crisis point.  After his treatment of Evangeline, it seemed like once they were back together that he would change, that she would change, that their relationship would be different.  Instead, Evangeline forgave Drake too easy and once again in this book he treated her abominably.

I don’t mind alpha dominate jerks as heroes as long as they end up treating the heroine with love and respect. Drake never learned this lesson.  While the two reconcile at the end of DOMINATED, I had no confidence that he wouldn’t go off the rails and treat Evangeline terribly again. I never felt that his characters made any changes that would justify a belief in an ultimate HEA. I ended up liking his “brothers” more than him because they believed in Evangeline while he immediately distrusted her without much reason.

For me, this book felt like an afterthought that was no necessary.  I don’t think that this story needed two books to tell and probably would have been better as one book.  Too much of this book felt repetitive of MASTERED both in the story and also emotionally. The characters relationship seemed to stagnate and I lost interest.

After enjoying MASTERED, I was highly disappointed because not only was this book not what I had hoped it would be, but also it lessened my enjoyment with MASTERED because that book needs a conclusion.  Sadly, that conclusion is not worthy of the first book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There is a MMF menage scene in this book but no emotional menage relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DOMINATED is the second book in The Enforcers series.  This book is the second part of the romance between Drake and Evangeline and should be read after MASTERED.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 2 stars.


Review: Safe at Last

Review: Safe at LastSafe at Last (Slow Burn, #3) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #3
Published by Avon on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256

Very Angst Filled Action Suspense

“She’d thought she’d felt pain over the years. Grief. Regret. She didn’t think it could get any worse than what she’d already been dealt. She was wrong.”

FINAL DECISION: I found this story heartbreaking. There was so much angst and pain and sadness for this couple that I wish there could have been more time for the horrible past to be put behind them and for their happiness to be shown. I felt the resolution occurred too quickly for the darkness that encompasses much of the book.

THE STORY: Zach Covington works for Deveraux Security and is haunted by the disappearance of the girl he loved twelve years ago. He loved Gracie with a singular passion. When he sees a painting, he knows that Gracie is the artist. Anna-Grace Hill loved Zach until she believed herself betrayed by him in the worst way. When a chance encounter reunites them, Zach and Anna-Grace have to struggle through the lies and horrible tragedy that separated them twelve years ago to see if there is any future for them.

OPINION: Zach and Gracie have an epic romance but this story was so filled angst and pain and betrayal and sadness that I had a hard time getting through parts of it. I was pleased that things turned out well in the end, but I think that because of the depth of the darkness in the book, the resolution between Zach and Gracie needed to be more prolonged. After the disclosure of what happened twelve years ago, the two just picked up again. That didn’t work for me because it seemed like the two needed to work up to their happiness in order for it to feel real next to the blackness of the past.

I did love Zach’s dedication to Gracie and I thought the suspense story that continued from the second book in the series was well done and kept the story moving. I liked this book, but I thought that it bordered on being a very, very good book but that the transition to the happy ending didn’t work as well for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: I can’t wait for the story of the next couple. They have a stunning debut in this book (no spoilers as to who they are).

CONNECTED BOOKS: SAFE AT LAST is the third book in the Slow Burn series. This book can be read as a standalone although it does have a continuing storyline from book two in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: In His Keeping

Review: In His KeepingIn His Keeping (Slow Burn #2) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #2
Published by Avon on January 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 423

Action Packed Paranormal Romance

“Love finds you when you least expect it.”

THE STORY: Arial “Ari” Rochester is a telekinetic who has spent most of her young life hiding her abilities. When he ends up using them to save her life, her secret is out. When her life is threatened, she ends up coming to Beau Devereaux for help. Beau’s job with Devereaux Security makes him the perfect person to protect Ari and to discover what is happening. At the same time, Beau and Ari end up falling in love. But the danger that surrounds Ari might end their romance before it has a real chance to begin.

OPINION: This is a high powered action packed paranormal romance. To me, however, the romance seemed to take a back seat to the serious action in the novel. I very much enjoyed how Ari becomes a real powerful character. Although Beau is definitely an alpha male, Ari is a woman that grows into a strong woman who can take care of her man as well. The romance is more simple than might be expected. There are no dramatics between Beau and Ari. They, in fact, almost too quickly take to one another in a serious manner. The conflicts in this story involve those who are trying to abduct Ari and thus that is the source of conflict in the story. Beau is also a character that I really like because he allows himself to be vulnerable about Ari to the extent that he is willing to show his grief and fear about her openly to others.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although this series has three books, I hope there is a chance that there might be more because there are some other interesting possibilities for stories.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book although not as much as the first in the series. The book felt much more like suspense/paranormal because the romance was more muted. Beau and Ari were a nice couple, but their conflicts were all external ones.

CONNECTED BOOKS: IN HIS KEEPING is the second book in the Slow Burn series. Although the events of the prior book are mentioned, this book can be read independent of the first book in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Keep Me Safe

Review: Keep Me SafeKeep Me Safe (Slow Burn, #1) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #1
Published by Avon on October 7th 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 297

Spooky and Sexy Paranormal Romance

KEEP ME SAFE is the first book in the Slow Burn Trilogy. The series tells the stories of the Devereaux siblings. Each story has a paranormal element and are also in the suspense genre.

THE STORY: Caleb Devereaux is desperate when his younger sister is kidnapped so he tracks down Ramie St. Claire who he knows has helped locate missing people before. Ramie has disappeared and Caleb believes her selfish for not being willing to help others. When he finds her, Caleb forces Ramie to help him but what he discovers is that her paranormal talent that allows her to find missing people takes an extraordinary toll as Ramie experiences all the fears and emotions of the missing person. Caleb is remorseful and promises to make it up to her, but when he returns, Ramie has disappeared. A year later, Ramie contacts Caleb because she knows that a psychic serial killer is stalking her. Caleb, who hasn’t been able to forget Ramie, is immediately protective and determined to take care of Ramie.

OPINION: I have mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the characters. Caleb and Ramie are a good couple and have an immediate connection. Ramie is a woman who is at the end of her rope. She is desperate and fragile in many ways. Some readers may believe her too weak to be a heroine, but I see her as an incredibly strong woman who has been pushed to her breaking point. I liked how the Devereaux family interacts together and I look forward to the other books in the trilogy.

This book, however, depicts violent events and is not for those who don’t like violent images. The violence is not that graphic, but there are serious depictions of rape, abuse and extreme violence. There is a horrible event near the end of the book that was difficult to read (I don’t want to give away spoilers, but it breaks many of the romance rules about heroes). I ultimately was alright with the scene, but I felt that the resolution between the hero and heroine was too brief. It seemed to me that there would have to be more emotional work between the couple in order to overcome the event. The failure to seriously deal with the repercussions of the event downgraded this book for me. Hopefully, readers will get more in the future books in the trilogy that will allow some closure to this story.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are depictions of rape and its aftermath so readers should be forewarned.

FINAL DECISION: I was somewhat disappointed in the ending of this book even though I thought the suspense was great and the book’s plot went in directions I did not expect. I think there needed to be a more serious exploration of the reactions to the horrible events that occurred in the book. I did, however, really like the characters and I was totally interested in the story throughout.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KEEP ME SAFE is the first book in the Slow Burn series.

STAR RATING: I give this 4 stars because I thought the ending was too rushed for the extreme events that preceded it.