Received invitation to read from publisher via Netgalley. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
BONUS: ALSO INCLUDES A NEW ORIGINAL COLTER NOVELLA!
New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks’ enthralling saga continues as two men, and one resilient woman hiding from the past, brace themselves for an emotional storm of unavoidable danger and unmatched desire…
Lauren Wilder fell for the wrong man, trusted the wrong man, and she paid a very dear price for it. Now broken and wounded, she’s retreated to the bosom of the Colter family and the unshakeable love and support they offer. But the man she once loved and trusted is not without his own power, and he’ll use every bit of his money and resources to make sure he gets Lauren back, no matter whom he destroys doing it.
Liam and Noah were hired by Lauren’s brother to watch over her. But with danger looming, they head to the Colorado mountains—where Lauren has found temporary sanctuary. In her wounded eyes, Liam and Noah see the woman she once was—and could be again. They’re determined to show her everything a man can be—someone who will love her, cherish her, satisfy her, and when the time comes, put their very lives on the line for her. MayaBanks.com
Sadly, rape also makes an appearance in this story.
The novels in this series are about the power of family, and love, and this fifth in the series is no exception. It is also about what may be a common fantasy to be totally cared for, coddled even, by men whose greatest passion and pleasure, whose entire life is about pleasing one woman. All but one person in the extended Colter family is in a 3 man, 1 woman relationship. The one who isn’t, Cailie is married to Max, and featured in a book I haven’t read. Lauren is Max’s sister and after a crap relationship to a abusive pimp, he relocates her to the Clyde area where this extended family lives on a mountain above a small town. With new information on the guy who hurt Lauren, Noah and Liam, two men Max hired, go to Colorado to learn the whole truth so they can protect her.
These guys are hot and, though not biological brothers, were raised as such. They are both in love with Lauren, and I guess it’s possible they would decide that, given the Colters’ predilection for polyandry, that they should approach her about the feelings they share for her.
Lauren is a rape and abuse victim, who didn’t have counseling. That is likely to cause some massive issues. Some women might get through that on family love and romantic love, but it’s kind of hard to accept that having gotten her out and gotten her protection, her wealthy brother, Max, didn’t also get her a doctor. So, already filled with shame for what she perceives as weakness of character and having been used, how likely is it that her relationship with anyone is going to be hunky dory? Yeah, they are patient and the Colters are cool, but there is no substitute for professional help in this extreme case especially adding in the complexities of a menage relationship.
That, and Lauren’s inability , to stop beating herself up and to see she needs help, just annoyed me. She is instructed by the Colters, Liam and Noah over and over again to forgive herself, but it is apparent she is stuck in a loop that requires more than helpful hunks and family love. She sees herself as stupid for being in a relationship with the total ass, and she sees herself as weak and selfish for keeping some information hidden that could have helped others.
I was also bothered by spontaneous, declarative speeches about their love, loyalty and commitment from Noah and Liam that felt like I was reading a teleprompter instead of dialogue.
At the same time the hook-ups are super steamy and while I was worried that poor Liam’s penis would be accidentally bitten off in one scene that reads like a “WARNING!” from a menage manual; I had to fan myself a few times. The relationship must extend from a prior book in the series for Lauren, Noah and Liam to be so interested in this unconventional arrangement. But, Maya wrote some beautiful, intelligent and super hot scenes here. That’s the Other “F” word, by the way.
It also made me think of the kind of feeling of being powerless and alone some situations, like abuse, prostitution, and rape can bring on. With help and courage, many people can escape the situations and their psycho-emotional aftermath. But the usual protocol is for counseling, not hiding away; even with a loving and supportive family and town, most people need more professional help. The novel is hopeful, but, Lauren sees herself as a victim and in less than favorable ways. She shows courage and resolve in the end but, I wonder about how realistic her recovery would be in reality. There is a lot of help out there for people recovering from abuse and sexual violence.
Do you think it is a writer’s responsibility to stick with a recognized protocol for dealing with issues of abuse and sexual violence, including rape? I don’t know if I am saying this right – basically, is it responsible for a writer to show a female character recovering from a rape without counseling? Does it set a bad example? What are the writer’s responsibilities to the character, and by extension, to other survivors?
I don’t know that I think they “ought to” make the best practice in a situation like this obvious, in the way that wearing condoms has become the norm in erotica, but it made it harder for me to believe in her recovery. On the other hand, some publishers do require writers have characters practice safe sex, so why wouldn’t mental health be as important to affirm?
A quick Google Search offers a lot of help to people surviving sexual violence and abuse here are some randomly chosen places to look:
Pandora’s Project: http://www.pandys.org/index.html
RAINN.org Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: http://www.rainn.org/