Maya Banks
February 2013, Audiobook (Erotica)
Brilliance Audio, $10.52, Amazon ASIN 1469280280
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Burning

Available at Audible for $9.79 or one credit for members. Non-members $13.99.

Narrated by Adam Paul

Rush is the first in Ms. Banks’ Breathless trilogy featuring three billionaires who run a hotel empire – Gabe, Jace, and Ash. Gabe Hamilton has had his eye on Jace’s sister, Mia Crestwell, for about four years, but waited until she was twenty-four to make his move. He’s very, shall we say, demanding and he thought Mia needed a few more years on her to be able to handle him. Gabe was previously married and is gun-shy after a nasty divorce. He had a D/s relationship with his wife and when she left she made accusations in the media and in Divorce Court to the effect that it was non-consensual. All of Gabe’s relationships since have been bound by a standard contract. Yes, that’s right; this is Ms. Banks’ foray into Fifty Shades-land.

The contract itself is ridiculous. We are told Gabe is the detail man of the trio but the terms of the contract are vague and nonspecific so I had concerns for his business. It basically says that he’s in charge and he gets to do whatever he wants for as long as the relationship lasts. Her time is his; her body is his, etc. To enjoy the book, you really have to get over the vague and ridiculous contract. It’s unashamedly over the top, pretty much like I expect from Maya Banks.

Mia is not a total doormat – she has her own terms to add to the silly contract (e.g., mutual fidelity) and she insists that her brother, Jace, not know of their affair. Mia has had a massive crush on Gabe since she was sixteen; she’s under no illusion that their fling will last, but she’s decided to get out of it what she can.

Gabe and Mia start an intense relationship where she works for him (at a desk inside his office!) – he’s a billionaire and he doesn’t usually have a personal assistant(!) – and makes her body available to him morning, noon and night. I haven’t listened to a lot of erotic romance on audio – much of what I have listened to made me somewhat uncomfortable, as I discovered there were some words it was best not to hear out loud. But I have to say that even though the subject matter was hot enough to scorch my ears, it mostly worked for me this time. Perhaps hearing the dirty talk from a male voice made it easier for me to hear?

I can’t say that overall Adam Paul hit all my buttons from a narration perspective. He mostly gets the tone and expression right and I appreciate that he doesn’t use a drag-y voice for the female characters. He merely softened his tone for Mia and her friends – this doesn’t exactly sound “female” to me but it’s better than a falsetto from a guy. I think of it as an aural signal that the girl is speaking rather than a character voice as such, if that makes sense. I was hoping Gabe’s voice would be deeper, I admit, and there was no discernible difference between the voices of Gabe, Jace and Ash, which was disappointing. Also, at the beginning, there was a touch of Kermit the Frog about Mr. Paul which, when you think of the erotic content was kind of ick, but it faded out and only popped back up occasionally through the listen.

Unlike in a couple of Banks’ previous books which have contained some uncomfortable-for-me sex scenes, in Rush, Gabe acknowledges that he has treated Mia like an object instead of a woman he cares about and after a scene involving other men goes wrong, his emotional turnaround (from being cold to actually having some emotions) was significant and, because of that, I was happier overall with their relationship. The conflict at the end was contrived and made me roll my eyes but the grovel was pretty spectacular as grovels go.

It’s explicit, it’s over the top, and if you don’t think about it too much, it’s mostly fun.

Breakdown of Grade - Narration B- and Book Content B-

Unabridged. Length - 11 hours 9 minutes. This review was written for the 3/25/13 Speaking of Audiobooks column.

-- Kaetrin Allen

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