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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