Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cris Reads: MASTERED (The Enforcers #1) by Maya Banks


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Surrender Trilogy and the Breathless Trilogy knows what makes readers hot. Now she turns it up in Mastered, the explosive first book in a new series of a desire too dangerous to resist.


SYNOPSIS
 

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.




MY THOUGHTS

Evangeline is a 23 year old southern girl just trying to make a living in New York City and send as much money back to her loving parents. She's sweet, hardworking, honest and very naive. To gain back some of her confidence, after her ex-boyfriend seduced her just to take her virginity, her roommates push her into going to a super exclusive club to show him what he lost. Instead she catches the attention of Drake Donovan, owner of the club and dominant millionaire alpha male. He desires her with an intensity he's never experienced before and decides to make her his live-in girlfriend.


He wants to own her. Possess her. And the rule is she must obey him in everything. That means giving up her job, moving in with him and allowing him to support her (and her parents) completely. Although Evangeline has always struggled financially she takes pride in having worked for everything she has. She couldn't care less about Drake's money or the shiny baubles he leaves for her. She just wants him - the seductive, dominating man who awakens a side of her sexuality that she's always ignored. She's gorgeous and an amazing person but she's so riddled with self doubts and feelings of inferiority, and doesn't really gain self-confidence until Drake comes into her life.


What I really enjoyed about this story is that in spite of Drake being demanding and controlling, he's incredibly tender and loving with his Angel. He puts so much time and effort into making her feel adored and bolstering her confidence. You can tell that he is really dedicated to their relationship. Both their sweet moments together and the intense, explicit sex scenes kept me enthralled and excited to see how their relationship would grow. You do need to suspend reality a bit in terms of his complete and instantaneous take over of her life (I mean really, you think her parents would ever be cool with this?) but the romantic aspects were addictive and satisfying.


As much as I love a bossy, protective hero, Drake requires a level of control that is a bit beyond my fantasy levels. Evangeline can't even leave the apartment without one of his partners' supervision. Much like him, his partners are all brawny, bossy alpha dudes, who coincidentally are all attracted to her and would love to step in if Drake ever ended it. To me, that felt a bit weird. I mean, I get that she's beautiful, kind and stands up for what's right, but she's their best friend's woman. The ick factor on that was just a bit high for me. The author does build some great bonds between some of the partners and Evangeline. She becomes particularly close with Silas, who is probably the most dangerous of them all, but with a gentle soul that comes out in Evangeline's presence. I adored Silas and Maddox and would love to see them find their own mates.


Despite some things here and there, I actually really enjoyed the novel until Drake brings a random man in to have sex with Evangeline while he watches. Ugh. I know there are some people who consider it a fantasy and there was an attempt made at explaining how such a controlling and possessive man would enjoy this, but after all of the progress and openness they'd developed in their relationship it just felt a bit like a slap in the face. She spends the whole time staring at Drake and makes it clear that the only enjoyment she gets out of it is through Drake's enjoyment. Just no to this whole situation. 


I hadn't realized that Drake and Evangeline's story was split into two books so the cliff-hanger ending was definitely a surprise but what really got to me was the ending itself. Because of Drake's lying to Evangeline and her innocently trying to do something sweet for him, Drake tries to protect her from his dangerous associates by completely tearing apart all of the love, trust and self-confidence he'd spent the whole novel trying to create. I won't get into specifics and risk ruining it for anyone, but it's HORRENDOUS and even though I knew he was trying to protect her, the full extent to which he goes left me cold (and shedding some tears). If I were in the Evangeline's position I would never be able to forgive him and honestly, as a reader I don't know if I'll be able to either. It'd be really interesting to see how the next book in the series begins and how the relationship manages to get back on track. He can't just command his way out of this one. 


So, as much as I was pulled in by the intense romance between Drake and Evangeline, and intrigued by the possibilities for future romances including the secondary characters, the ending of the novel kind of ruined the hero in my eyes. I'm so glad that Evangeline stood up for herself and reacted the way she did but the whole situation, even if his intentions were good, broke my heart. It's important to note that this is definitely a novel that will get strong emotional reactions out of the reader. I mean, just look at how long this review is. Whether you love or hate the characters and their behavior, MASTERED will definitely hold your attention. If you love romance novels that explore dominance and complete submission, and you have a thing for millionaire alpha-males, check this one out. 



Disclosure: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.



LINKS TO PURCHASE- 
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AUTHOR INFO 

Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.



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