Burn by Maya Banks
ORDER A COPY: Burn (The Breathless Trilogy)
Publishing Date: August 6, 2013
Paperback: 353 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Ash, Jace, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Ash, it’s the woman who changes everything he’s ever known about dominance and desire…
When it comes to sex, Ash McIntyre has always explored his wilder side—extreme and uncompromising. He demands control. And he prefers women who want it like that. Even the women he’s shared with his best friend, Jace.
But Jace is involved with a woman he has no intention of sharing. And now even Gabe has settled into a relationship with a woman who gives him everything he needs, leaving Ash feeling restless and unfulfilled.
Then Ash meets Josie, who seems immune to his charms and his wealth. Intrigued, he begins a relentless pursuit, determined she won’t be the one who got away. He never imagined the one woman to tell him no would be the only woman who’d ever drive him to the edge of desire.
Ash McIntyre is a man who is used to getting what he wants, especially with women, but lately he doesn’t know exactly what it is that he wants. For the last several years, Ash and his friend Jace have shared their women. Ash became used to choosing woman with Jace for their short term relationships. Now Jace is happily engaged to a woman he has no intention of sharing leaving Ash trying to figure out what he wants to do next.
Ash is crossing through the park when he sees the woman who will turn his world upside down. He sees her sketching people in the park. More surprising, it seems that she is as aware of Ash as he is of her since she is sketching Ash. As he gets closer to her, he also notices that she is wearing the collar of a submissive. Now Ash is intrigued and determined to find out everything about the pretty little artist in the park.
By the time Ash is finally able to track down the gallery where Josie Carlysle displays her art, he is determined that Josie will be his, especially after he sees her latest painting; an erotic self-portrait, or at least he hopes it is a self-portrait because Ash wants to trace his fingers and his lips down that tattoo winding down her side.
When Josie finds out that all of her art at the gallery has been sold to a private collector, Josie finally has the confidence to accept Ash’s offer to become his submissive. Yet Ash realizes that if Josie ever finds out that he was the one to purchase her art, she might not see it as a compliment to her talent, but as Ash’s total manipulation to simply get her in his bed.
This was definitely my favorite story of the series. During this trilogy, Ash came off as the more laid back partner, but there was a charm and a manipulation that made sure that Ash always got what he wanted. Since we had a taste of Ash’s sexcapades in Jace’s story, we also learned that there was a darker desire to Ash and definitely a manipulative side. He got Bethany to have a threesome with Jace and Ash and he pretty much orchestrated what was happening between the three of them.
So when I started this book, I thought this would be the more adventurous of the books. I believed that the majority of Ash’s story would involve sex and bondage, etc., etc. But in fact, I felt that there was much more storyline in Ash’s novel than in the previous two.
I also felt less awkward with the story itself and the connection between Ash and Josie. Although Ash had more money than Josie, she is an independent woman even if she was a starving artist. Josie also had a previous dominant/submission relationship which was less balanced than the one with Ash. So Josie blossomed with Ash and learned the true nature of the D/S relationship.
With Book #1 and Book #2, when you looked passed the superficial stimulation of the erotica, Book #1 involved an older man who becomes involved with his best friend’s sister who he watched grow up from a child and who he has had an interest in long before it was appropriate. He also to some degree punishes her and humiliates her for his strong attraction and feelings for her, i.e. stripping her and tying her naked to a table and then inviting business associates to touch her.
In Book #2, I was a little wary of the storyline of Bethany being homeless. Although Jace wants to take care of her and gives her a place to live, she doesn’t have the independence that Josie has to fall back on and her choice becomes more put up with Jace and his jealousy and his mood swings or live on the streets. I was disappointed in Bethany that she didn’t take the opportunity to find a job while she was living with Jace so that she could save her own money and be able to afford an apartment and get off the streets if things with Jace ended. She was content to stay home and be his plaything.
Maya Banks always writes such passionate characters, but this was the only book of the trilogy where I felt that the players were on a more equal footing going into the relationship and although Ash was dominant, he was not as hard core as I believed he would be from the previous stories.
I thought this was the best of the three.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
“Now it’s my turn to ask you twenty questions.”
“Hey, I didn’t ask you twenty.”
“Close enough,” he muttered.
She sighed. “Okay, okay. Ask away.”
His gaze immediately went to her neck. To that pale ring where the collar had rested. It had been the first thing he’d noticed when she’d walked out of the pawnshop, and he hadn’t dared to get his hopes up. But the fact that she’d accepted his dinner invitation, even if he’d blackmailed her, and that she didn’t wear the collar tonight as a barrier between them, told him that she was at least intrigued by this thing between them. Whatever the hell it was.
“Why aren’t you wearing the collar?” he asked softly.
Her free hand went immediately to her neck, and consternation shone brightly in her eyes. But she remained quiet, lips firmly pressed together.
“Josie? Why aren’t you wearing the collar?”
She sighed. “I’m not seeing him anymore.”
He had to work hard not to react to that piece of news. He’d suspected as much,but he hadn’t wanted to jump to any conclusions.
She pulled her hand away from his, dropping it into her lap. She looked down, refusing to meet his gaze. He waited, not letting her off the hook. This was too important. He wanted to know every thing.
“Did you break it off or did he?” he finally asked.
“Want to tell me why? What happened, Josie?”
Her head popped up, her eyes flashing. “You’re what happened, Ash. You.“
There was no faking Ash’s surprise. She’d definitely caught him off guard with her outburst. His eyes narrowed and he leaned farther over the table. He was still holding one hand, and he covered her free one, his palm sliding over the tops of her knuckles.
The man was lethal. With every touch, he seduced her, and she doubted he even knew it. Or maybe he did. Maybe knew exactly what he was doing.
“I didn’t happen,” he said in a low voice. “Because if I did, you’d be in my bed right now.”
His voice was a husky growl, sliding over her skin until the hairs at her nape stood on end.
She tried to pull her hands away, but he held firm, not allowing her to escape.
“You happened,” she refuted. “That day in the park. You made me question everything. And I didn’t like what I discovered as a result.”
“And that being?”
She shifted, uncomfortable with his close scrutiny. She didn’t want to be having this conversation. It was too intimate It was too…revealing. Ash was a man that if you gave him an inch, he’d take a mile.
“What did I make you question, Josie?”
It was equally clear that he wasn’t going to back down. “What that collar signified,” she said, finally relenting.
“What do you mean by that?” he prompted gently.
She blew out a deep breath. “The things you said, what the collar meant to you and what it should mean to me. I realized that. After. I thought about it a lot. And when I went to see Michael to find out what that collar meant to him, he didn’t even notice I wasn’t wearing it. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I’d think a man wouldn’t like the fact that a woman took the collar off. I mean if it’s supposed to mean everything you implied.”
“You’re not wrong,” Ash said.
“It’s a game for him. Maybe it was for me too,” she whispered. “He told me I was taking things too seriously. That the collar was fun, but meaningless. It’s like he was role-playing and none of it was real. And when I realized that, I also recognized that I didn’t want a game. But at the same time, I don’t know if I want it to be real. I think…with you…that it would be very different. With a man like you, I mean.”
“It’s not meaningless,” Ash growled, his face drawn into a scowl. “And hell yes it would be different with me. But you know what? It would be real. And it would mean something.”
“What would it mean?” she asked, her lips trembling as she stared back at the intensity of his eyes.
“It would mean you belong to me. Only to me. That you would submit to me. That I’d take care of you, provide for you, make love to you.”
He could have no idea the effect his words had. That they reached deep inside her and called to a part of her she hadn’t known existed. With Michael, it had been a game. She could see that now. Two people playacting. Going through the motions for a thrill. There was nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what she wanted.
But the thought of Ash, of belonging to him in the sense he was talking about, scared her. He was overwhelming in every sense of the word.