Joint Review – Rush (Breathless # 1) by Maya Banks

Rush cover image
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.
This blurb came from Goodreads.

Has: When I heard that Maya Banks had a new erotic series based on three billionaire friends finding the love of their lives, I was quite excited. Because this trope is pretty crackish for me even though I feel this premise has gotten tired. But I am a sucker for the domineering billionaire hero trope. So when we had the chance to review Rush – I was quite excited, however, I have mixed feelings after reading the book. And primarily it is over the hero Gabe, who I disliked immensely. I don’t mind alphahole heroes, because I love it when they redeem themselves or if they fall head over heels over their heroines. But I didn’t really get that with Gabe because I just found him too cold, and remote for me to warm up to. He was a pure and utter ass to Mia, who was much younger than he was and I felt she was railroaded into some situations without being consulted even though in the beginning of their relationship they signed a contract where he would state what he would do.

E: Maya Banks has given me several entertaining reads over the years. Unfortunately I found myself disappointed with the first book of her new series. I have avoided a lot of the billionaire friends finding their “One” stories so I was not worried about trope burnout. However, Rush was saved from falling into the DNF category by the promise of another reader, that there was a good groveling scene towards the end of the book. To me, except for the very last scene, Gabe was never the hero type. I understood that Mia had a crush on him for years. I understood that he was 14 years older and “knew” what he was doing. But his behavior was that of an abuser and Mia’s was that of an abused woman. The story started off innocuously enough although I knew there would be repercussions for hiding everything from Mia’s older brother Jace. The contract I have seen before not just in erotica but in standard categories that also feature the older much wealthier hero so that was not really an issue. I enjoyed the fact that Mia read the contract and made changes to it. However, the contract was certainly written in his favor and did not seem to have an escape clause for Mia especially since she would be receiving a salary for her job as his personal assistant, a job that seemed likely to end if they ended their relationship. My real problem was the execution of the contract.

Has: I so totally agree with you about the unequal dynamics in their relationship. I think this is what really bothered me so much about their romance and most especially with Gabe. While I understand he’s a domineering guy with control issues. I felt it was unfair that Mia was not given a choice or was explained to what she was expected to do. It was like she had to dance to his whim and desires even though he proclaimed he would care and take her welfare at heart. But there was an incident at towards the end of the book, which didn’t work for me because he ignored his responsibilities to her. Even though it gave him an epiphany on his true feelings and this felt clumsily executed and it definitely did not endear Gabe to me.

I also felt Mia was way too forgiving and accepted his reasons too easily. And when she did started to get a backbone towards him – it was because he rejected her, This was not a great subtext for me especially towards their relationship because it proved how unequal it was. The grovelling scenes also didn’t work that well but helped to redeem the book, and Gabe from domineering and unfeeling arse to alphahole in my eyes. But it was still not enough to make me like him as a character or redeem the romance fully – I also felt that transition was too awkward and sudden.

E: Yes I agree it was unfair towards Mia. To me a line from another book spells out what this sort of relationship should be, “[trust] not just something you do, it’s something we earn. Let us earn it…” Gabe promised to go slow, explain things to her and give her the choice to participate in a particular activity or not. He repeatedly failed to do that and even admitted and chastised himself for failing to do so after each occasion but his behavior never changed. At the start of the relationship they agreed to be faithful to the other and Gabe ensured that no other man had a chance to pay Mia attention. Yet at a certain formal event he went and danced with his father’s date who was obviously trying to establish a very personal relationship with Gabe. His reaction after Mia left was to lose his temper and decide to discipline her for refusing to tolerate his disrespectful behavior. Mia after standing up enough to leave went ahead and let Gabe do what he wanted without requiring him to do more than explain his actions.

The scene Has referenced above while allowing Gabe to start to realize his feelings I felt was absolutely horrible. Mia was in an extremely vulnerable position that he had to convince her to trust him and he failed miserably in his responsibility to protect her. Yes he apologized and tried to make things right but a violation of trust on that level to me was unforgivable. Then when he decided to end things with her when her brother found out about their relationship I was even madder and more disgusted with his behavior. Yes he did do a very good groveling scene at the end which, given his background was an impressive gesture but I still did not get the sense that his character had been redeemed.

Has: I totally agree, and I wished there was more to expand on this because it was rushed and sudden. However, I did enjoy the other elements in the book, such as the glimpses of the other heroes, Ash and Jace who will feature in the sequels in this trilogy. I really like the look of Ash because he has a great sense of humour but also looks like he’s intense and kinky in the bedroom, and I’ve lamented with Lou about non-fun like heroes with this premise, and his book looks promising. I also got a feeling I will enjoy their stories much more than Gabe and Mia’s book, which the execution and characterisation just didn’t work for me. Despite it having all the ingredients that I usually enjoy for a crackfilled romance.

Overall, I really wanted to like RUSH, but it just didn’t live up to its promise which was due to Gabe’s assiness. I don’t mind alphaholes because I think they can be the best type of heroes, especially when they redeem themselves or fall hard for their heroines. But in this case, Gabe’s journey in the book was selfish and uncaring and even though he realised his actions, he never stopped or rectified it. I also think this is a book, which you either love or hate because of the factors we raise – but for me, even though he tries to make up for his alphaholeness, it was just too late.

I give Rush a D+

E: Even though I was dissatisfied with Mia and Gabe’s relationship I did enjoy the glimpses I had of the supporting characters. I found myself really intrigued by Ash and Jace. They both had a good sense of humor, a way of misjudging women and certainly showed promise in the hero department. Like Has, I think Ash has some hidden depths that could be very interesting when they start to appear. I was also proud of everything they did to try to make Mia happy after things ended with Gabe. I am glad that Banks provided a good groveling scene but by that point I was unable to believe that Gabe not just meant but would change his behavior to match his words.

I give Rush a D-

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4 thoughts on “Joint Review – Rush (Breathless # 1) by Maya Banks”

  1. This is not a genre I read, but I am sorry you both did not really like the book. And I have to admit, I really hate heroes like that. Feels so 80s.

  2. Thank you for your review. I just finished the book and I am left with an extremely sour taste in my mouth. Gabe wanted control and a BDSM relationship, but he’s such a selfish jerk he never assumed the real responsibility of a dominant to keep promises and respect his submissive’s wishes. Frankly, with a dominant like him, it would be impossible to trust him and be felt taken care of, when he kept failing her on every turn. From the very beginning when he decides to go for Mia, after thinking about it for so long, it leaves me cold to see he’s doing it when his friend is away. He acts like a man because he has a dick, but other than that, his attitude is that of a selfish ninny who just wants to have what he wants to have, throwing temper tantrums at will, and hurting Mia in the process. Be a MAN, Gabe. Mia, well. She deserves every inch of that jerk! Those two deserve each other. But as far as I’m concerned Maya Banks doesn’t deserve a penny more of my money.

  3. Sorry to hear that you also did not enjoy it. I have hopes for the next two because I liked what I saw of Ash and Jace.

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