Double Review: Taking It All by Maya Banks

Wednesday, August 6

Title: Taking It All *
Author: Maya Banks
Series: Surrender Trilogy #3
Genre: contemporary BDSM erotic romance
Publisher: Penguin
Format: ebook, print, audio
Date/Year: August 5, 2014
Reviewed by: Michele & ElaineReads

*This book was provided to the reviewers by the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

Summary from the publisher:

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.


Michele's Musings:

This book contains spoilers for LETTING GO and GIVING IN, the first two books in the Surrender trilogy. You might be able to read TAKING IT ALL as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Finally, after all the buildup in the first two Surrender trilogy books, we get Chessy and Tate’s story here in TAKING IT ALL. After Carson Breckenridge died too soon in a tragic car accident, it was more than a year before both his widow Josslyn and his sister Kylie were able to find love and happiness with the two men who were already present in their lives. Now that all their good friends are settled and happy, it’s the already-married Tate and Chessy who are forced to confront their own growing isolation from each other, one that threatens to end their marriage if something isn't done soon.

Tate and Chessy had always been one of the golden couples in their immediate group of friends and family, even as everyone was still in mourning for the loss of Carson. But Tate has been spending too many nights and weekends trying to build up his business and it’s Chessy who has paid the price. She’s put on a brave face for him and everyone else, not wanting to seem ungrateful for all his hard work even as she dies a little more inside each day. It’s only when they make arrangements for a rare night out alone together to celebrate their wedding anniversary that everything comes to a head. When Chessy spells out to Tate exactly why she is so angry with him, he seems to get the message and immediately starts trying to mend the breach before it becomes irreparable. Yet it will still take one more mind-boggling mistake on Tate’s part before he realizes exactly how much he’s failed Chessy, and what he must to do prove himself worthy as both her husband and Dominant once more.

TAKING IT ALL was the perfect mix of nearly everything I love: marriage in trouble, a D/s couple in love, and the steady hand of Maya Banks to make sure it all played out exactly as it should. Add to that another appearance of Damon Roche, my all-time favorite Maya Banks character, and it’s no surprise that I loved this book so much.  Chessy suffered silently for much too long, hoping every day that the man to whom she had given her love and submission would come to his senses and return to her. Tate was genuinely clueless about how much he’d been hurting his wife as he believed he was helping them both by devoting every waking hour to running his company. Even when their initial showdown appeared to have set things right, it was clear that their reconciliation was a tenuous one, and I was just as worried as Chessy that Tate could slip up again. When he did so at the absolutely worst possible moment, I knew that a hero screw-up of this magnitude demanded an equally epic hero grovel, and Maya Banks did not disappoint. This realistic portrayal of a loving D/s couple’s painful falling out and hard-won reconciliation was the heart and soul of TAKING IT ALL, and it’s what made this final book in the uniformly excellent Surrender trilogy the very best one of them all. 

Michele's Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level:  4









ElaineReads's Musings:


This was the story I was waiting for since the first book in the Surrender trilogy.  I really enjoyed the first book, LETTING GO, with Joss and Dash and it did an excellent job of introducing the characters for the next two books.  I wanted book two to be Chessy’s and Tate’s story because their situation was so compelling.  It wasn’t obviously, but GIVING IN, Kylie’s and Jensen’s story was excellent and I learned more about Chessy and Tate in it.  Finally, with TAKING IT ALL, I get their story.

And I didn’t like it.

Okay, I liked it, but it wasn’t the story I hoped for.  I thought some of the dialogue was stilted and didn’t flow like Maya Bank’s normal writing.  The scene for the anniversary dinner could almost have been lifted from another book by Banks, STAY WITH ME, which by the way is an excellent book.  There were differences of course, but the basis was still the same.

I had a really hard time liking or believing in Tate.  Even after he realized he was losing Chessy, he still was too wrapped up in his business.  The scene where her life was threatened went too far.  I can’t say much without spoilers, but there were other people who would have intervened to help her sooner than they did.

Even after all that, the story was satisfying.  Not only did I get to see how things worked out between Chessy and Tate, but I got to see the development of the relationships between Joss and Dash and Kylie and Jensen.  I feel like I have read one long book rather than three individual ones.  Everything flowed together so well.

Read this book, but only if you have read the first two of the Surrender trilogy.  They really do make a great story and you will like how everything works out for the three couples.

ElaineReads's Ratings:

Overall: 3.5 stars
Sensuality level:  5
(BDSM, menage)







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Review: Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James

Tuesday, August 5

Title:  Hillbilly Rockstar*
Author: Lorelei James
Series: Blacktop Cowboys series
Genre: contemporary erotic romance
Publisher: Berkley NAL      
Format: ebook, print, and audio
Date/Year: August 5, 2014
Reviewed by: Michele

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

She’s protecting his body and guarding her heart....

Country music star Devin McClain understands there’s a downside to life in the public eye, but the laidback Wyoming cowboy has never imagined he’d attract crazed fans who would do anything to garner his attention. When veiled threats become real, he agrees to hire a discreet security detail. But Devin is shocked when that bodyguard is a hard-bodied woman. He’s even more stunned to be attracted to the steely-eyed stunner.

Former soldier Liberty Masterson’s return to civilian life has been fraught with challenges until she lands a job with a prestigious security firm. But when she agrees to provide personal protection during a cross-country tour, she doesn’t realize she has signed up to masquerade as the playboy star’s girlfriend. Though she’s more comfortable in combat boots than high heels, she has no choice but to appear to be the sexy groupie Devin prefers.

Living in close quarters causes the chemistry between them to ignite, and Devin realizes he wants to turn their charade of a romance into reality. Although Liberty surrenders to his every whim behind closed doors, she fears the sexy country star doesn’t see the real her; and Devin can’t help but worry when the tour ends that there might not be enough between them to build something that won’t fade away....


My Musings:

Although I’m a big fan of Lorelei James’s McKay books, my heart will always belong to her Blacktop Cowboys, and HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR, the latest entry in the series, reminds me exactly why they are among my very favorites.

We’ve already met our hero and heroine in previous stories, but even if this is your first visit to the friends and family in Muddy Gap, you’ll have no trouble diving in to this wonderful romance. Both Devin McClain and Liberty Masterson hail from the same small town in Wyoming, but had never crossed paths until the day she was assigned to be his personal bodyguard. Now he’s got to let this frustrating bossy woman in every aspect of his life while continuing to entertain people all over the country one night at a time. Liberty’s still adjusting to civilian life after multiple tours in Afghanistan, and it’s only by keeping men at arm’s length that she’s been able to deal with the loss of the only man she’d let herself care about. Being around the deliciously attractive Devin every waking moment is wearing her down, and the last thing she needs is to let this man distract her from her duty. But when they finally succumb to their mutual attraction, it’s only a matter of time before a moment of weakness could put both their hearts and lives in danger.

One of the things I love the most about Lorelei James’s Blacktop Cowboys series is how people you only meet briefly in previous books can still be memorable enough to rate a story of their own later in the series. Both Devin and Liberty have been in the background here and there, but they come into their own beautifully in HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR. We knew Devin’s success as a rich and famous singer hadn't changed how he behaved around his childhood friends in Muddy Gap, but that it had kept him from letting any woman get close enough to see the true man inside. That duality is all the more poignant here when we see how the loss of his younger sister had affected his relationship with his family and hindered his ability to love anyone else. But Liberty had just as much trouble trusting and loving for similar reasons after she saw how easy it was to lose a loved one in a war zone. So it was no surprise that it took the forced proximity of living on Devin’s tour bus and her task of keeping him safe before she could let herself give in to the irresistible sexual chemistry they shared. Yet what neither of them could know at that moment was that they had just each found the one person who could save them from their self-imposed solitude forever.

The best part of HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR was how we got to see both Devin and Liberty learn to let love back in, and that the choice they’d each made to keep their hearts safe was the last thing the people they’d lost would have ever wanted for them. There were several times where each had their tenuous hold on this new love tested, and each time they came back to try again was another mini-victory that made me cheer. Even the subplot of the possible threats against Devin’s life which had brought them together was kept at just the right level of suspense so that it worked to move the romance forward instead of forcing it into the background. By the time the tour is over and the threat neutralized, we know that Liberty and Devin will have to be together for the rest of their lives, even if it takes them a little more time to figure it out. And that’s when we get yet another perfectly orchestrated happy ending for two people that deserve every bit of it. HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR not only let me visit Muddy Gap for another sensuous and sentimental romance, it reminded me that you should never give up on love, and that’s just one of the many reasons why it’s among the best romances I've read in 2014.

Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level:  3.5


For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here


Other Reviews:






*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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