Cherished by Maya Banks ----- 3 stars
I didn't like this book as well as many that this author has written. The reason was Xander. I just wasn't really enthralled with him as a hero. He decided Talia was "his" based on a 10 minute interaction with her when she was 18. Since he was a ruling prince, I guess he didn't believe wooing her was necessary. It didn't seem to matter to him whether she returned his interest or not. He pays for her mother's cancer care and for her education and then "summons" her to his palace when she's of age. Talia didn't know him at all, had no idea he wanted her, and she didn't know why the prince was paying for these things. But she was desperate and grateful for the help anyway. When he summons her, she feels she owes him, even when she finds out he wants her in his bed. She goes, thinking six months as the prince's mistress is a small price to pay for all the prince has done for her. But here is what rubbed me the wrong way: a powerful man demanding sexual favors as a payback is not well done. That is abuse of power. A lot of girls wouldn't have gone....Talia rightly feels like she's prostituting herself. Then to make matters worse, when she arrives she finds not only is she to be mistress to the prince, but she must cater to the three princely bodyguards' sexual needs as well AND she must be remain submissive to them all and go about naked all the time. WHAT?
By this time, I'd have been planning my escape, assuming I was stupid enough to go in the first place. But, (amazingly), Talia is intrigued, and decides to stay. Of course, Maya Banks is such a superb story teller, that I wanted to read the whole story. It turns out that the three bodyguards are really gorgeous, protective, honorable guys. Xander was supposed to be also but, for the reasons stated above, the bodyguards stole the show. Talia and the bodyguards would have been better off running away together and telling Xander to get lost. Xander insisted on being the main squeeze, the one who called all the shots, and the three other guys were "allowed to share". This didn't make sense to me either. It's hard to believe these bodyguards would settle for sharing Talia with the prince for the rest of their lives, while foregoing partners of their own. Xander went to a lot of trouble to insist that Talia was HIS first, and theirs second. Men that macho would not play second banana to anyone when it came to woman they cared about. I've read a number of menage stories and what makes them work, at least for me as a reader, is for the individuals to all to be EQUAL in the relationship. Xander kept demanding favoritism. In spite of that, Talia did love them all equally. I guess, she just let Xander THINK he was #1 because he prince or some such.
But I tell ya, that Nico.....he was worth several Xanders. The body guards did woo her and coax her to fall in love with them. Maybe that's why I loved them more too. Xander just snapped his fingers and commanded a lot. It is never clear to Talia until the end of the story whether Xander loves her or not.
Sway by Lauren Dane ----- 4 Stars
This novella was somewhat of a loose continuation of the Brown sibling stories. Remember Gillian's friends in Adrian's story? Sway is about Gillian's friend Daisy. Daisy meets a sexy lawyer and they fall in love. Since Lauren Dane wrote it, you can be assured they have some hot moments together. I thought Levi was "Delicious" and Daisy was an extremely likable character, someone you'd like to know in real life.