Book Review: Mastered, by Maya Banks

Photo of the cover of Mastered, by Maya Banks


Mastered
by Maya Banks

Series: The Enforcers, #1

Genre: Erotic Romance, Suspense

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Breathless Trilogy comes Mastered, the first novel in the Enforcers series—a bold new direction in erotic romance that explores the games men and women play, and the price they’re willing to pay for pleasure.

What he wants, he takes with no remorse or guilt.

She stood out in his club like a gem, unspoiled and untouched. A lamb among wolves, she clearly didn’t belong. Drawn to her innocence he watched as she was surrounded by men who saw what he did—but no one but him could touch her. He summoned her to his private quarters. He sensed her fear. He also recognized the desire in her eyes. And he knew she wouldn’t leave before he possessed her. She had no need to know his secrets. Not until he had her under his complete and utter control.

What he wants, she isn’t sure she can give him.

The moment he told her want he wanted, she couldn’t resist. Instinct told her to run, but her heart said stay and walk the fine line between pleasure and pain. Though she wasn’t sure she could ever completely surrender, the primal part of her wanted to try, even knowing this man could break her in ways she never imagined. Because once he possessed her, he owned her and it would be too late to turn back. She can only pray that he doesn’t destroy her in the end.

My Review

   

 

Mastered is a suspenseful, often angsty read – simultaneously erotic, dark, edgy and mysterious – with an ultimate alpha, Donovan Drake, in the role of the ‘antihero.’ Donovan is a dangerous man, surrounded by a cadre of other dangerous men. We know very little about him, only that he owns and tightly manages a successful club by night – and deals in unsavory, shadowy businesses on the side. He’s enormously powerful, successful, drop-dead sexy, and dominant in every way. People fear him, and they should. That is, until he meets Evangeline … and his defenses collapse like a paper tent in the wind. That’s where the story begins, and it’s the conflict that keeps the tension running from beginning to end.

Evangeline has led a sheltered life, only moving to the city when she’s forced to find a job that will support the rest of her family and keep the bill collectors at bay. She works hard at a dead-end waitressing job, barely making ends meet, living in a tiny, dingy apartment with her best friends. Damaged by a disastrous, emotionally abusive relationship with her one and only serious boyfriend, Eddie, she’s turned her back on any hope of a social life, until ‘the girls’ convince her to go out one more time, just to show him what he’s missing. Like a fish out of water, she uses a VIP pass to gain entrance into Drake’s club, to see and be seen – only to be humiliated again, in the worst possible way. But not before she catches the eye of the enigmatic alpha himself.

In the blink of an eye, Evangeline is completely captivated and consumed by her attraction to Donovan, a man like no one she’s encountered before. She knows he’s dangerous — she knows better than to give in to his dark and powerful charisma — but, of course, she does it anyway. For some unfathomable reason, she trusts him, and despite her reluctance to accept his attention – not to mention his ‘offer’ of the kind of relationship she could never have imagined – she can’t walk away. She has no idea what to expect – but for once, she is willing to take the risk of giving herself to this man, body, mind, soul – and, ultimately, heart.

Over the next several weeks, Evangeline is led to explore her deepest – and sometimes darkest desires, experiencing passions and expressing a raw, unrestrained sexuality that thrills her beyond description. She eagerly surrenders to his every demand, and delights in doing so, despite her inexperience and trepidation over their relationship. Drawn by her beauty, honesty, and innocence, Drake unexpectedly finds himself falling deeply in love with Evangeline – a love that could prove dangerous for them both, in ways she can’t possibly imagine. Their relationship is powerfully erotic, but is deeply flawed by secrecy and deception, as Drake is forced to come to terms with who and what he really is – and how vulnerable he’s become with Evangeline in his life.

Is it completely plausible? No. Does it work? For me, yes. Fiction doesn’t have to be plausible. It just has to be absorbing – and I was completely drawn into this story from beginning to end.

Although I don’t usually look at other reviews before I write my own, I made an exception in this case. And while I agree with some of the criticism leveled at some elements of the story, I couldn’t help but love it. Sure, their “inta-trust, insta-love” is entirely unlikely. Yes, Evangeline can be weak and whiny, and she’s definitely too trusting and vulnerable for her own good. Yes, Drake transforms himself in record time – but not completely. And yes, you can predict that a downfall is coming, and when it does, it’s hardly surprising to see this house of cards fall apart. But how it falls is intense, shocking and painful. And then it ends in a cliffhanger that will rip the rug right out from under you.

It’s rare for a book to make me cry these days – and I was surprised this one did; but sure enough, near the end, my heart broke for this powerful dominant man and the woman who stole his heart right out from under him. After such a build-up, there was bound to be a fall … and when it happened, it hurt worse than I’d imagined. So, Maya – please bring on the sequel – I have to believe in a happy ever after for these two, whatever it takes.

Buy Mastered on Amazon …

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Photo Quote from Mastered, by Maya Banks

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Paula Radell

Always a passionate reader and a somewhat more casual writer, Paula Radell started her first book review and promotions blog, Curl Up and Read, in September of 2013. In early 2014, she left a career in nursing to become a freelance project management consultant. She also turned her part-time hobby into a full-time passion by becoming a freelance editor, publicist, and a hopeful author. She is a Goodreads Librarian, Group Moderator, and a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. She has also taken advanced internet and social media marketing certificate courses at the University of San Francisco. Born and raised near the beaches of southeastern Virginia, Paula now lives in Mendocino County, California with her husband Ray, a couple of stray tabby cats, Matthew & Diana, and a 2-year old rescue Greyhound, Willow. When she is not catering to the dog’s every whim, touring and tasting the latest California sparkling wine vintages with Ray, or sitting in Starbucks reading a great book, you can find Paula at her laptop – writing, editing, reviewing or avidly promoting the books and authors she loves. Two releases are planned in the coming year: Where Angels Lie, a dark romance; and an inspirational novella (name still under debate).

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