Maybe first with a complaint that this book kept me up last night and caused me two hours of writing time this morning. It was well worth it. The story stayed with me long after I finished reading it. With the amount of romance I read, it's not easy for a story to sink into my consciousness and never leave.
This is the second book of the Breathless Trilogy. I loved the first book. This second one had me fall apart temporarily. I'm a little afraid to read the third one coming in August.
The book is focused on Jace, Mia's older brother, who unlike his two other friends, didn't start out rich but struck gold with his joint venture with his friends. He's the guy who raised his little sister, the brooder, and the other half of the Jace-and-Ash show notorious for their propensity for threesomes.
If you're the kind of reader who gets uncomfortable with the following things: sexual dominance, male high-handedness and kinky threesomes, this book may not be for you because this book runs away with top awards for all three.
Jace already starts out not to be your ideal guy except in the sack and the money department. For a romantic, a guy who doesn't mind sharing his woman doesn't always win your vote. This flaw sets out the tricky beginnings of his complicated relationship with Bethany. It's a stab wound he inflicts on himself and continues to bleed from, from start to finish of this book. While at first I wanted to grab him by the hair and smack him on a hard surface somewhere, his poor judgement in the beginning helped me sympathize with him in his struggle to make sense of how he felt about Bethany and how something that should've been so casual could suddenly mean everything to him. He struggles with the overwhelming change in his perspective and does his best to deal with all the obstacles in his path—including his friendship with Ash and the fragile hold he had on the woman he could never let go of. He screws up a lot but he comes back each time more determined than ever to love, protect and provide.
I loved it when he said, "Yeah, apparently, when I decide to be an asshole, I go all the way." A lot of his concerns were legit but I think his biggest redemption is that he's crazy about her. Just. Plain. Crazy. About. Her. You'd feel bad for the poor guy, I swear.
Bethany, on the other hand, isn't your typical heroine. Sure, she's got the young, innocent, jaded kind of feel about her at first but you quickly discover just how dark her past is but she surprisingly manages to stay in your favor even if sometimes you think she could've done so much better instead of letting it all come to this. I'm biased in the fact that I always root for the young, naive virgins meeting a man of the world and making them putty in their hands but Bethany managed to elicit my fierce vote for her to find love, happiness and security in this story. She had a lot going on that could've totally backfired and work against her but Ms. Banks accomplished the feat to humanize Bethany and endear her to the readers so well, you just couldn't find it in your heart to be disdained by her even if she does some really stupid things.
I won't give away too much except for the plain advice that keep an open mind when you read this book. The characters are familiar, their bonds palpable, their ups and downs relatable but they will take you out of your comfort zone and make you ask a lot of questions.
Those who shy away from BDSM (like I did because suddenly they were everywhere and became more bland than vanilla) might roll their eyes at this and say, 'Here we go again', but if you spend the time absorbing the whole book, you'll realize that the love scenes, intense and wicked as they may be, are necessary to the story, whether in taking the characters to places they wouldn't want to revisit or further deepening their desire for more than just sex—complete and absolute submission of the heart and soul. And don't worry, this book isn't one love scene bridged to another by short paragraphs. The story really is like a fever—starts hot and uncomfortable that you just know something is up—and it continues to burn, play with your consciousness and logic and leave you helpless and desperate until you wake the next day and realize everything's alright now.
I love this story.
It's a darker, more erotic version of Pretty Woman almost, but these characters are more intense, their demons more relentless, the heat of their attraction more scorching.
This is 5 stars for me.
Ms. Banks also did a great job of letting us have a closer glimpse at happy-go-lucky charmer Ash McIntyre who is going to send the next book's pages up in flames. Can't wait.
***I forgot to add: The scene with a drunk Bethany is hilarious. She was so adorable. One of the best scenes ever.