Friday, August 3, 2012

Cherished by Maya Banks and Lauren Dane *ARC Review*

"Exiled" by Maya Banks…Enticed to the island paradise where an enigmatic prince is living in exile, beautiful, virginal Talia is introduced to a world of forbidden pleasure where the prince’s every whim is fulfilled and her fantasies are rendered in exquisite detail. But when the prince is summoned back to fulfill his duty to his struggling country, reality is thrust upon Talia all too soon. She returns home, heartbroken, convinced she was a passing fancy for an idle ruler and his most trusted men. Until the day they arrive on her doorstep, determined to have her back where she belongs.

"Sway" by Lauren Dane…Levi Warner is an established, older man—wealthy, powerful, and above all, respectable. Then Levi meets Daisy, an uninhibited 24-year-old dance instructor and artist, not exactly the kind of woman Levi is accustomed to. But the young, free spirit, brings out something in him he only experienced in fantasies. When their scorching affair turns into something unexpectedly deeper, Levi finds himself torn between preserving his reputation, and exploring a wilder and much more satisfying kind of life.

I think after reading Banks' story I'm going to have to officially name my preferences for romance in the 'BDSM-lite' category. No insult to her intended but I just could not get over the premise for her particular piece; power dynamics are all well and good to play with but when they're weighted so far in one direction that I can't help but be worried about one of the participants then it's less of a fun fantasy for me. Xander wanted Talia; wanted her and made it happen, seemingly without any knowledge or caring about what she wanted. She comes to the island under his dictate - she doesn't see herself as having a choice in the matter, and later when she's told that not only will be she having sex with Xander but also his guards... well things take on a kind of sinister tone (in my head). Plus Banks made sure to have Xander tell us a million times that he knew his kinks were super kinky but he needed her so it was gonna happen. The end.  Banks works in more emotion between all the characters in the end and Talia ultimately makes her own choice about what relationship she wants but I couldn't totally get over my own discomfort about how things began. C+

I have a soft spot for Dane's Brown family series so when I realized (because stupid me I hadn't been paying enough attention) that this story was about Gillian's friends that we met in Never Enough I was one ridiculously happy person. This story was significantly lighter on the BDSM level but I also felt like the romance/emotion/power/choice line was walked better. Daisy goes into this relationship knowing her needs and wants; she's not going to let Levi walk all over that just because of his 'hot teacher' vibe. When Levi starts incorporating more control elements into the bedroom she decides if they work for her - there's even a point when she almost says 'no thank you, let's not do that again'. All in all in lent an element of realness to their relationship because while sparks got them into it both parties kept their head about where things went physically. Their path to HEA was a little rocky, Levi definitely had some groveling to do, but I loved touching base with the Brown family members and can't wait to keep reading as Dane explores more of these friends. A-

Overall Feeling - Split between the two, C+/A-

Series - None/Delicious series, book 1 [To be published 8/7/12]

**Title received from author for review**