Rush
by Maya Banks, contemporary (2013)
Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-26704-2


Rush, on paper, fits the bill as another addition to the overloaded fifty shades of Fifty Shades Of Grey bandwagon. I know, everyone wants money because there are so many new shoes to buy, but to be fair to Maya Banks, she's been doing this way before you know who did you know what.

Yes, we have another super-rich arrogant domineering hero, Gabe Hamilton, who decides to spank and roger the heroine Mia Crestwell until her rear end resembles a baboon's. She specifically signs up to be his PA and T&A, so let it never be said that our heroine doesn't see to the hero's every convenience while, er, cresting well in the process. It's win-win all around. Oh, and Gabe is the best friend of Mia's older brother, so it's that same old "I want my brother's BFF" trope all over again. Then there's the fact that he's much older than she is. Don't worry if you miss out on these facts, because the author will have the characters repeat them over and over like people with short term memory desperately trying to memorize the combination number of their safe.

I wonder whether the title of this story describes the writing process as well, because this book has the trappings of something dashed off to the editor ASAP, preferably before people completely move on from Edward Cullen with whips to tattooed bad boys pretending to be college kids. This book is rife with repetitive interior monologues, along with far more telling than showing, making the whole story almost perfunctory in how mechanical it is. Even the sex scenes, usually a good reason to read Maya Banks's books, have a ho-hum, been there, done that feel. When the first sex scene hits me, I was actually taken aback by how... anticlimactic it is.

It doesn't help that there is no build up of sexual tension here. From the first page, the characters have agreed to start boinking ASAP, so we have moved from Point A to Z without stopping to admire the scenery during the journey, so to speak.

Mia starts out a pretty decent heroine, often speaking up when Gabe starts being a twit, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that she always goes along with the hero like a sheep to the slaughter anyway, sigh. This isn't so bad if Gabe wasn't one of the most incompetent Dom I've ever come across.

That guy has no self control, which has me wondering how this guy hadn't been laughed out off the friendly local neighborhood BDSM club ten minutes after walking through the door. He's constantly going, "Oops, treated Mia like a whore, and I feel bad... oops, did it again, now I really feel bad... yikes, okay, feeling bad now... oops... yikes..." Gabe has self-awareness to some degree, so every time he does something totally gauche, he feels awful. Unfortunately, his guilt rarely translates to action where Mia is concerned, so he just keeps doing that "Oops, I'm a thoughtless bastard... oops, again, ouch!" thing non-stop. Yes, that's the conflict of this story: Gabe is actually a well-adjusted guy if you compare him to the emo brigade of tattooed himbos plaguing the fifty shades of rip-off genre and its grotesque spawn new adult, but he just keeps acting like a complete dumb asshole just because he can. For pretty much the entire story, he never learns from his remorse.

Now, this is still not so bad if he didn't organize some of the worst sex parties I've come across in a story. Remember how I said he has no self-control? Well, he sucks at event management as well, which is really bad as he is in the hotel business, because for some reason he decides that he'd get Mia to take part in an event where she is the main course for his business partners, and loses control of the whole situation so Mia ends up nearly getting a ding dong in her mouth without her consent and she also gets viciously backhanded by the jackass attached to that ding dong.

Gabe's stupidity and ineptness extend outside the sphere of his incompetent pee-pee. An early example of this is how he is shocked and angry when it seems that word has spread that Mia is spreading for Gabe. He seems surprised that people don't think highly of their colleagues who are sleeping with the boss. And yet, that doesn't stop him from shagging her in places where they can easily be discovered. Yes, he had a lousy marriage in the past, but since when is that an excuse for the hero to be so dense and clueless?

At the end of the day, Mia loves Gabe even when he has demonstrated repeatedly that he has the intelligence, willpower, and self control of a gerbil. Why? I have no idea.

Maya Banks is a far better writer than EL James, but like so many of the "BDSM stands for Billionaire Dom Sells for Millions" books that came crawling out of the publishing ooze after EL James published those books, Rush makes the Fifty Shades books seem almost great in comparison. At least I get to laugh here and there while reading those books. This one just makes me cringe because, seriously, sexually gauche dumbasses do not make good romance hero material at all.

Rating: 51


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