Fever
by Maya Banks, contemporary (2013)
Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-26706-6


Fever has one of the funniest first sex scenes I've read in a while. Jace Crestwell and Ash McIntyre always sleep with the same woman at the same time, and when the story opens, it's business as usual when Ash crudely propositions our heroine Bethany for their usual "You take the front, I'll take the back, and off we go!" fun. Jace is very attracted to Bethany to the point that he's not keen to share for once, but still, what the heck. What follows is a scene where Jace scowls and snaps at Ash while they are both huffing and puffing away at Bethany. If I were her, I'd burst out laughing before kicking them out. It'd be less bothersome and more peaceful too to just take out two vibrators and play.

The rest of the story, however, is not even a bit funny. What happens is this: Bethany is a part time waitress at a hotel function organized by Jace and Ash, who co-own the hotel with the idiot from the previous book. Bethany is starving and homeless, so when these two obviously very rich men come on to her and tell her to put out to them, she sees an opportunity to get a meal and a place to stay for the night. I know, this is so romantic! The author even mentions Pretty Woman somewhere in there.

So, the rest of the story sees Jace being so obsessed with her that he tracks her down. Realizing that she's having trouble with thugs thanks to her useless BFF Jack selling her out again and again to those scumbags that owe him money, Jace steps in to rescue her from her dire life. He also wants her to know that they will be in a relationship, one in which he, the self-styled dominant, will, and I quote, "have absolute control over every aspect". This "alpha male dominating the poop out of my rear end" thing is three times more heartwarming when I remember that Bethany is beaten up, homeless, hungry, and has nowhere to go.

This story could have worked if the author had spent a little more time and effort actually developing the romance. Instead, she takes short cuts. There is no actual build-up to the romance, as Jace is immediately "obsessed" after he'd boinked her that one time. As for Bethany, I have no idea why she's in love with Jace as she's too busy playing the helpless victim. These people go from "Hello, now let me pork your poop chute!" to "Can't live without you! Hear my manly roar of thwarted virility!" without much ado, so I'm not sure I can even consider their relationship love without subjecting myself to a massive bout of self-delusion.

Fever ends up being, basically, a no-nonsense rescue fantasy. The storyline can be summed up like this:

1. Bethany is in trouble.

2. Jace steps in.

3. Bethany is okay again.

4. Jace demands that she takes off her underwear.

5. Sex.

6. Repeat until page count is up.

7. Happily anal after!

Bethany shows only two facets of her paper-thin personality in the whole story - "gagging for it" and "getting beaten up by life". She is said to be from an unhappy place and she had let men use her sexually as a means to escape her misery, but at the same time, the author also claims that Bethany is sexually "shy". Really? We're talking about a woman who lets two men shag her - one in each orifice - for a burger with a side order of fries and orange juice. Maybe the fact that she doesn't want money makes her better than the usual gals who put out on the first date? If you ask me, if I were her, I'd demand at least truffles to go along with the meal if I was going to entertain two guys at the same time, especially when those two guys practically walked up to me and expected me to put out just because they wanted me to, but I guess that's why I'm not a romance heroine.

And Bethany, she doesn't do anything in this story other than willfully get into trouble for the sake of Jack, her toxic BFF who constantly puts her life at risk during each encounter. She won't abandon Jack, she won't! At the same time, she is like a beaten-up puppy. Every time she defies Jace for Jack, she would slink back to him while saying that she understands if he wants to kick her out of his life and she'd just go now because she's such a beautiful martyr that way. Like I've said, this so-called "domination" romance is so much more appealing when the heroine is so vulnerable to the point that the hero could have just kicked her for laughs and she wouldn't fight him. Anyway, Bethany doesn't do anything to earn her happy ending - unless you count the number of times she lets Jace boink her - as it's Jace who steps in and cleans up every mess in her life while she just stands there gaping like a junkie experiencing withdrawal.

I can go on and on about this story, such as how Jace and Ash finally "mended" their friendship by making jokes about the time they boinked Bethany together, how the guys in this story view the women they supposedly love as nothing better than cute girly sex objects that need their pee-pee as well as protection, how Bethany and the heroine of the previous book get together to gush about how lucky they are that they found these men to take care of them, or how Jace has two bodyguards set up on Bethany to report to him her every move 24/7. But I'd just work myself up into needing another shower to make myself feel clean again, so I'll just stop here.

So let me just say that this story is, uh, "unorthodox". The author tries to make much of Jace's disturbing control freak tendencies more palatable - for example, it's supposed to be okay that Jace has men trailing Bethany's every move and reporting everything to him, because her life may be in danger - but, put together, everything about this story is about a very unhealthy lop-sided relationship with a very powerful and rich man having full control over a spineless and broken woman who never had much say - or the inclination to assert herself where it matters - in the matter.

Ugh, I need that shower after all.

Rating: 31


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