Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ARC Review: MASTERED by Maya Banks

by Maya Banks
Enforcers, Book 1

What he wants, he takes with no remorse or guilt.

She stood out in his club like a gem, unspoiled and untouched. A lamb among wolves, she clearly didn’t belong. Drawn to her innocence he watched as she was surrounded by men who saw what he did—but no one but him could touch her. He summoned her to his private quarters. He sensed her fear. He also recognized the desire in her eyes. And he knew she wouldn’t leave before he possessed her. She had no need to know his secrets. Not until he had her under his complete and utter control.

What he wants, she isn’t sure she can give him.

The moment he told her want he wanted, she couldn’t resist. Instinct told her to run, but her heart said stay and walk the fine line between pleasure and pain. Though she wasn’t sure she could ever completely surrender, the primal part of her wanted to try, even knowing this man could break her in ways she never imagined. Because once he possessed her, he owned her and it would be too late to turn back. She can only pray that he doesn’t destroy her in the end.

Mastered is book one in Maya Banks’ Enforcer series.  I am a fan of Maya Banks’ KGI series.  I love her ability to write memorable characters and drive a strong storyline.  That is why am I surprised at how much I am disappointed in this book. First, this is a very familiar trope. Evangeline Hawthorne is a small town ingĂ©nue living in the big city working to support her parents back home.  After being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, she meets big town millionaire bad boy, Drake Donovan, at his hot nightclub. He is immediately intrigued by her beauty, innocence and lack of guile.  He offers to help her with her financial issues and introduce her to a life of luxury and privilege.   The only thing he requires in return is that she obey him in all things. Although Evangeline is not a money-grabber, she is intrigued by the possibility of dominant/submissive relationship. She moves in with him in a blink of an eye and insta-love reigns.  Soon, because of her innocent, naivety, and loyalty, Evangeline wins over all of Drake’s partners/friends. Drake is intensely attracted to her light as it contrasts to his dark.  

My biggest issue with this book is with Drake.  His character is clouded in mystery, but I didn’t really enjoy what is revealed.  First, he has open distain for the customers of his club: “He catered to exactly the clientele that Impulse attracted, but it didn’t diminish his disgust or impatience with the type of people who frequented his establishment.” Why be club-owner if he hates the people so much? I am sure there are plenty of other money-making ventures he can invest in.  Second, he is so over-the-top controlling and conceited, he is really unlikeable.  “If it made him arrogant to consider himself God, so be it, because he was God. At least in his world.” He is not even nice to his friends. It’s not very clear to me why his partners/friends are loyal to him but for the fact that he earns them money.  Maybe there is more to their relationships, but it is not clear because there is just not enough of Drake’s past in the story. Ultimately, he is a caricature, instead of a character.   

Another issue that does not sit right with me is the significantly unbalanced relationship between Evangeline and Drake.  Even in the dom/sub relationship, there is a balance. The sub has the power to make a choice to engage.  Throughout the story, Evangeline seems to be on the verge of being overwhelmed and having a “complete meltdown.” Being on such shaky emotional ground, I’m not sure that this character is strong enough to enter into such a power dynamic and that made me uncomfortable. 

In A Nutshell:
As much as I wanted to like this book, I cannot say that I enjoyed it. The story is very traditional and follows a familiar formula.  Moreover, I did not have much respect for the characters and therefore, found it difficult to connect with them. 

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