Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Emotional Accountability

The BookSweet Temptation by Maya Banks

The Particulars: Erotic Romance, 2010, Berkly Heat, In Print, Book 4 in the author's Sweet series.

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?:  I picked this one up at RWA 2010 (uh, Orlando?)

Danger, danger thar be minor spoilers ahoy matey!

The Review:  I have no idea why I finished this book.  I suspect it's because the only other book I've tried to tackle this month I'd already DNF'ed.  Which is probably what I should have done with this one.  At any rate, be advised I skimmed large chunks of the final 150 pages, mostly the sex scenes which....did not work for me.

Micah Hudson is a asshole former Miami cop now living in Houston and working for some private security-type company (Series-Itis Ahoy!).  Back in Miami he was married to Hannah and they had a "relationship" with David.  David was Micah's BFF and he also had the hots for Hannah - so they all lived together, with David and Micah sharing Micah's wife.  Then David and Hannah die in a car accident, Micah runs away to Houston, leaving behind David's little sister, Angelina, who is now 23.

Angelina has been in love with Micah forevah, and feels he's now past the worst of his grief (he returns to Miami every year to visit the grave site and she's had the chance to spy on him).  So she packs her bags, moves to Houston, and sets about rockin' Micah's world, hanging out at the BDSM club that he frequents.  Naturally this causes Micah's head to explode because Angelina is David's little sister!  Oh noes!  And he gets all tingly around her!  Oh noes! 

Then there's some nonsense about Angelina having a stalker who she thinks will just magically go away because she's left Miami under an assumed name and covered her tracks.  Blah, blah, blah, whatever.

There are three elements in erotic romance that never fail to cause my eyes to roll back into my head:

1) Sex clubs in general.  BDSM or otherwise.
2) Virgins who design sex toys for a living (blessedly not in this book).
3) Virgins who design sexy lingerie for a living (blessedly not in this book).

But I understand that this is my personal kink (sorry, couldn't help myself) and was willing to roll with the BDSM thing even though there's a lot of pain/pleasure stuff flying around that made me personally wince.

The major problem here is Micah.  He can't have a relationship with Angelina.  He just can't!  She's David little sister!  But apparently it's OK for him to have a "just sex" relationship with her and screw her to the point where I'm wondering how she's capable of standing under her own power anymore.  It's also, apparently, OK to dominate her to the point of ordering her to pleasure three (yes, three) other men that he invites to play with them while they're holed up in the BDSM club because Angelina's Crazed Psycho Stalker is after her.

Yeah, I'm sure if Big Brother David were still alive he'd be totally cool with his baby sister in a gang-bang ::headdesk::

And that's the problem with this story - it exists purely in the realm of Erotic Romance = La La Fantasy Land.  There is zero emotional accountability here.  Angelina and Micah do whatever they want, to whomever they want, and there's no fall-out.  None.  Everyone just traipses around la dee dah, with nobody's feelings getting hurt.  Even Micah's relationship with David and Hannah is treated like this.  I get that David was his BFF - but dude, you shared your wife with him?!?!  Nobody just does that.  Nobody.  I would speculate that Micah must have had feelings for David that ran deeper than BFF territory - but yeah.  Author doesn't go there.  Why, I have no clue since, frankly, it makes infinitely more sense to me that Micah would be gun-shy about Angelina being "David's little sister" if his relationship with David had been dealt with more realistically than just He Was My BFF And I Let Him Bang My Wife!  

This is such a major missed opportunity that it damn near makes me weep with frustration.

There's also a bunch of past couples and single sequel baitin' hunks who mostly just annoyed me.  The men are all "dominant" and possessive of their women so you get a lot of "mine," "baby," and "sweetie."  Worse still, given Angelina's name we're subjected to a lot of "Angel."  The other women in this story drove me batshit insane.  Angelina's Crazed Psycho Stalker starts targeting all of them, and after one of them is threatened the girls all get together and still have the presence of mind to twitter about how great their sex lives are.

OK, who does that?  Crazed Psycho Stalker on the loose!  Crazed Psycho Stalker who knows where you all live!  I wouldn't be twittering about sex so much as buying enough weapons to arm a militia, but to each her own.

So was there anything about this book that didn't make my brain bleed?  At times, I liked Angelina.  I liked that early on she called Micah on some of his bullshit.  I also liked that in the final showdown with Crazed Psycho Stalker she goes about rescuing her damn self.  And despite me really not liking this story?  Banks can write.  Her style flowed for me, and it was easy to keep going from chapter to chapter.  Which means while this series is Not My Thang, maybe I should look into some of Banks' other books - of which there are many.  I have my pick of category romance, historicals and romantic suspense.....

Final Grade = D


Lynn Spencer said...

Yikes - sounds like a rough month. I have to admit that the constant, "mine", "baby", etc... drives me nuts. And yes, the lack of emotional accountability - I like the way you phrase it. That syndrome seems to be going around more subgenres than just erotic romance, and it drives me batty.

willaful said...

Aw bummer! Mine started out kind of eye-rolling but turned out pretty good in the end:

willaful said...

Re Banks: I think she has a remarkable chameleon-like talent, so if you pick a genre you like, her book in it will probably work for you.

LibraryMaven said...

OK, OK, nothing to do with Maya Banks except I kinda like that underwear the cover model is almost wearing. I was distracted by a WTF cover on Carrie Lofty's Starlight that is posted on your "What I am Reading" section. First I noticed that the woman was all twisted up in a funny way--hip one direction, back another and head twisted to face front--THEN I noticed that she only has one leg. What's with all the one legged models they're using these days. Is it help the handicaped or ... is it photoshopping-covers-gone-wild? ;-)

nath said...

I really enjoyed your review Wendy! Too bad the book didn't work out all that well. But it's good to know Ms Banks can write!

Wendy said...

Lynn: I'm also wondering if I'm burnt-out on BDSM-themed erotic romances. Never a favorite theme of mine anyway (although my kingdom for some Domme heroines!!!!!!), I've been pretty blase about the ones I have read recently that weren't "bad" reading experiences.

Wendy said...

Willaful: Yeah, the writing was smooth. So I think she'll work for me in another genre. I also suspect I might be "over" the BDSM angle - or at the very least, terribly picky about it.....

Wendy said...

LibraryMaven: OK, now that you mention it - what is she sitting on? Is that a coffin? Sort of looks like something Anne Rice's vampires would sleep in. Maybe there's a hole at the top of the casket and that's where her other leg went?

(I actually like this cover - mostly because I love heroine covers, but now I'm thinking this chick is a Victorian era yoga instructor!).

Wendy said...

Nath: It flowed well, it just really wasn't my thing. I'm now tempted to chuck every erotica and erotic romance novel out of the TBR that has a BDSM theme. I wonder if that's my issue. I'm just OVER that.

Hilcia said...

Oh, I wrote something here and didn't post it.

This whole trope would turn me off. The BFF banging the sister but not commiting because he's the BFF never makes sense. Wouldn't committing be more acceptable? Ugh!

The erotic works I've read by Banks so far have not worked for me. I know I'll probably give them another shot at one point or another, but not now. *g*

There's good BDSM out there, Wendy. You just have to really sift through the pile. It seems to be the "flavor of the year." It's not a favorite trope for me though, and I'm picky too... so, I read few and far in between, usually by authors who are part of the scene and really understand it.

LibraryMaven said...

Actually I was drawn to the cover by the beautiful texture of the blue gown contrasted with the smooth line of her bare back....until I couldn't figure out how the rest of her was attached. Then it was just yuck. I felt sorry for the artist who had to scruntch all the rest of her body to fit the cover. Sigh! Now I can't un-see it. Hope the book is good.

Christine said...

Sorry you didn't like this one so much, but points for a heroine who saves herself! Love that.

Wendy said...

Hils: That was my thing - the hero thinking "just sex" was more acceptable than committing made NO sense to me. Yeah, I'm sure if the BFF were still alive he'd be all "Sure dude, I don't want my baby sister in a loving, committed relationship with you - but if you want to screw her brains out and bring in three other guys to do her, I'm ALL ON BOARD WITH THAT!" /end sarcasm

Yeah, no. Just, no.

I'm at the point where the only BDSM I'm reading are by authors who I have a good track record with. If you're a newbie? I'm sorry to say it's a much harder sell at this point.

Wendy said...

Christine: I really did like the fact that she saved herself at the end. I also liked early on that she was all like "whatever dude, I want you - I'm here - you can't ignore your past forever."