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Joint Review – Fever (Breathless #2) by Maya Banks

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

Jace, Ash, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Jace, it’s a woman whose allure takes him completely by surprise…

Jace Crestwell, Ash McIntyre, and Gabe Hamilton have been best friends and successful business partners for years. They’re powerful, they’re imposing, they’re irresistibly sexy, and Jace and Ash share everything—including their women.

When they meet Bethany, Jace begins to feel things he’s never experienced before: jealousy, and a powerful obsession that threatens him, overwhelms him—and excites him beyond control.

Jace isn’t sharing Bethany—with anyone. He’s determined to be the only man in her life, and it’s jeopardizing a lifelong friendship with Ash. Bethany will be his and his alone. Even if it means turning his back on his best friend.

This blurb came from Goodreads.

E: After reading Rush the first installment of Banks’ Breathless trilogy I decided I was more interested in Jace and Ash than I was in Gabe. I heard from other people that the characters and dynamic were very different in this second installment so I decided to give it a try. While I did enjoy Fever much more than I enjoyed Rush I have come to the conclusion that Banks’ contemporary writing voice is not working for me.

Has: I also felt the same way about Rush because I really disliked Gabe’s character but I agree that the characters of Jace and Ash held more interest for me and I was looking forward to see how Fever panned out for me. I also agree that I did enjoy Fever more but it also had some issues, which was primarily about the heroine, who I found to be one dimensional, and it affected the development of the romance for me. But I did like Jace’s character, and the fact he really fell head over heels for Bethany which is something that makes me melt when I am reading a romance. But I am leaning towards feeling the same way for this series, because while this is a crackilicious trope, the development of some characters and plot points isn’t ticking my boxes.

E: I actually didn’t have too many issues with either Jace or Bethany separately but I did have concerns with their relationship dynamic. No I am not talking about the D/S aspect and the extent to which it stretched throughout their relationship but more in terms of the fallback positions each took during times of high stress. Bethany’s abusive background built in a lifetime response to escape either through drugs or by physically leaving while Jace defaulted to verbally attacking and accusing Bethany of doing the worst possible action without determining the situation. Bethany’s only alternative to Jace once she entered the relationship was to go back to the streets and shelters from a taste of privilege. Jace still had his place, family and money. Bethany did start to leave after each of Jace’s explosions but he continually expressed remorse and then did it again. To me when someone has started trusting and believing again to have their past or other nonexistant actions thrown in their face by the very person who built that trust is not the sign of a healthy relationship.

Has: This was the main issue I had with the book and the romance itself. The power dynamics between Bethany and Jace was very unequal, and while I liked the heads-over-heels element and the fairy-tale aspect which really fits the tone of the story. There was no real expansion on how Jace fell in love so deeply with Bethany, and I wanted more of an emotional development on that rather than the sex and the D/S factor of their relationship.

I also totally agree with you about the pushing and fro-ing with the trust issue, and it added to the unequal dynamics in their relationship, especially since Bethany was homeless and had no power. Even though I think Maya Banks did try to state the message that Bethany did have the upper hand of their relationship because Jace was vulnerable and open to her. I didn’t really believe that because for me he held the upper hand in all aspects of her life and I wasn’t keen on the fact he wanted to dominate her outside the bedroom even though she was willing and they did consent with each other with each decision.

E: Like you Has, I had a hard time believing that Bethany had the upper hand even though she was willingly to go back to streets instead of lose the grounds she had made personally it seemed all to easy for Jace to get mad and break Bethany down. [spoiler]The only person Bethany could depend on during her life was Jack, someone she viewed as a brother, who had earned her loyalty and trust through their shared experiences in foster care and on the street. As a result while she knew Jack had his own issues she always gave him the benefit of the doubt and believed that Jack would never do anything to put her in danger. From the onset of this book Jace and Jack were polar opposites pulling Bethany in different directions. This was a major source of conflict and contention between Jace and Bethany which resulted in some ugly situations.[/spoiler]

Jace was used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. Yes, he did have to take care of his younger sister unexpectedly but he had all of the advantages of privilege. This was evident each time he introduced Bethany to a new situation and expected her to just fit in. He did not pay any consideration to how foreign each was or that he was subtly undermining her confidence in her ability to fit in through his words and actions. He went from insta-lust to what he called love threaded through with jealousy and possession. I never had the feeling that he learned any lessons about respecting and caring for every aspect of Bethany, especially given their D/S relationship outside of their sexual acts.

Has: I definitely agree, but I also felt Bethany a wallpaper protagonist for me, she reflected and acted on the desires of the men in her life and I didn’t get a sense of her character. I also wished that she would develop her own sense of being and self, and we didn’t get to see that although there was a hint in the end when she wanted to go to college and do something. But that was too little, too late from because there was no real transition from the beginning of the book to the end to show that.

I liked the fairytale overtones of the story, which basically is totally perfect for this trope of the rich hero and poor heroine type romance. But I didn’t think the BDSM and D/S themes fits well with this story. Although I really found this series was refreshing that the kink was not due to any tortured pasts or abuse which is a huge trope for similar books. But I did find it a niggle, on the reasons why Jace and Ash’s predilections to sharing a woman was dismissed by Jace so quickly even though it was a huge part of their sex lives. And I was quite surprised by this because it just felt that this was an added kink to spice up the series. This is a reason why I am not that keen on menage romances these days because its more about the sex than the emotions. And for a good erotic romance to work for me – it must be just as strong with the emotional tone as well as the sexual elements.

E: That is a very good point. The fact that Jace didn’t want to share Bethany from the very beginning was supposed to indicate that she was his one and only instead of just part of the line. While I appreciate the attempt at distinguishing Bethany, since sharing women was such an integral part of the friendship between Jace and Ash it seemed to me that sharing was maybe something that Jace did for Ash instead of it being an equal enjoyment.

I did prefer Fever over Rush but like I said in the beginning I think Banks’ contemporary voice at least in this trope is not working for me. I was not able to fully enter the reading experience or to believe in the relationship and its HEA. I thought that the heroine’s past and her drive to overcome it was a nice change from the typical heroine in this particular trope. Banks did address some of the issues involved in drug abuse, the ugly side of foster care, and life on the streets/shelters which again is usually avoided or glossed over in contemporary romances unless h/h is part of the system. While I found those refreshing the overall story really didn’t work for me and as a result I do not anticipate finishing this trilogy.

I give Fever a C-

Has: I also felt that Fever was much stronger than Rush, but I am with you about the tropes not working for me in this case. The power dynamics especially for a D/S themed book failed which affected the overall romance especially with the characterisation. And while I did enjoy some elements of the story, it didn’t win me over fully.

I also give Fever a C-

By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

2 replies on “Joint Review – Fever (Breathless #2) by Maya Banks”

Unfortunately not all the books in the world work for me *sigh*. I do enjoy her Highlander series :).

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