Book Review

Rush by Maya Banks

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Title: Rush
Author: Maya Banks
Publication Info: Berkley February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-101-62036-6
Genre: Erotica/Erotic Romance

Book Rush - Maya Banks I was leery about reading Rush for two reasons. First, there’s a glut of less than stellar erotic romance being published due to the Fifty Shades of Grey buzz.

Second, WTF is going on with the cover? Seriously, can we talk about the cover for a second? What is that? It looks like the mysterious blue water from maxi pad and diaper ads.

Bizarre cover art aside, this was a great read. It was the sort of fun, ultra-sexy, modern romance that can eat up an entire Saturday. I have already ordered the next two books in the trilogy. Be advised, this isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey, largely because it doesn’t suck.

It’s erotica without the apology, navel gazing, or shame. If you liked Fifty, you should definitely like this book because it’s better.

This is the first book in the Breathless Trilogy, and like all good books in a contemporary series, it features three best friends, Gabe, Jace and Ash, who are also super attractive, wealthy and powerful. Seriously, do these guys all meet at a prep school for unnaturally attractive boys? Why do they not have one fat, awkward friend?

Anyway, the guys run a successful hotel and resort company, each of their unique personalities contributing to the success of the business. Gabe Hamilton is the man who takes the vision for a new hotel and makes it a reality, with meticulous attention to detail and absolute refusal to settle for anything less than perfection. Gabe is demanding, brooding, sexy, and he always gets what he wants.The problem is, Gabe wants Jace’s younger sister, Mia. Mia is strictly verboten. Engaging in sexy shenanigans with her would cause Jace to bust a nut, and also pretty much destroy their friendship and business partnership.

Mia wants Gabe too. She’s had a crush on him since she was a girl, and who can blame her for lusting after an older, handsome, mysterious man? When Gabe offers her a job as his personal assistant, she thinks, sure why not?

When he tells her that the job is more or less a cover so they can engage is some really crazy, hot sex she says, “oh hells yes.”

This is where the Fifty Shades comparison will inevitably be drawn. Gabe presents Mia with a contract outlining the parameters of their relationship. Basically he wants to dominate and control, with her available to him at all times. In the context of this story, the contract makes sense. Gabe’s ex-wife ran to media after their divorce and shared all their kinky sex secrets, painting him as some kind of monster who abuses women. Gabe is still struggling with the idea that she may not have enjoyed or felt fulfilled by the relationship he thought she was a willing participant in, and so he makes it very clear to all his lovers what he is looking for.

Gabe doesn’t get off on hurting women (although there is some bondage/spanking) or on degrading them. His need for control is just a part of his personality, the same personality that allows him to be a very successful, focused businessman.

He tells Mia,

“I want please you. It’s very important to me that I please you. I want you to be satisfied. I want you to be so spoiled, pampered and cherished that you don’t want to be anywhere but with me all the time” (Banks 56). 

He is unapologetic and unashamed of his sexual preferences. He also makes it clear that he isn’t looking for anything other than a sexual relationship, and that if she wants emotional intimacy she should go elsewhere.

Mia is intrigued by his offer, mostly because she’s interested in having really great sex, and agrees to work for him under two conditions. First, Jace can never know that they’re involved sexually. Second, the job has to be real. She wants to actually get her feet wet in the business world, not just prance around his office in thigh highs and a pencil skirt.

I liked Mia; she was fun and spunky and didn’t take bullshit from Gabe even though he intimidated her.  She didn’t feel like she had to fix Gabe or worry that the sex they were having was wrong or bad or abnormal. She was a willing, enthusiastic participant.

Gabe also has no hang ups about his kinks:

“Some things just are. It was—is—a need I have. I don’t have some traumatic childhood that makes me the way I am. No emotional instability. It’s a kink, but more than that, it’s who I am” (Banks 150).

Now that they’re both down with the naughty, spanky sex, things get complicated. Gabe realizes that Mia doesn’t just excite him physically; she challenges him intellectually and emotionally. She calls bullshit on him when he’s being a douche, and while she’s willing to be submissively sexually, she is not giving him the ownership over her that he thinks he wants. He finds himself increasingly comforted by her presence in his life—a moderating influence—so much so that he finds, to his horror, that he likes being the big spoon. Sweet Jesus, she makes him want to cuddle. And talk about his parents’ divorce. And sometimes have fun. Shit just got real. Gabe is all like “I’m having these feelings and I don’t know what they are and they make me all upset.” You get where this is going. Also he feels like being with Mia is the most intense sexual experience of his life. It’s like her vagina is Disney World or something—a magical place where memories are made. 

Mia similarly begins to fall in love with Gabe, and dreads the day when their liaison will end.

In his efforts to prove to himself that he doesn’t have feelings, Gabe does something that some readers won’t be able to forgive him for. I felt that there was sufficient groveling, but I know others couldn’t get past it. I won’t ruin the book by stating what he does, but it was something that both parties agreed on in earlier chapters and would have worked had they not developed feelings for each other.

In fact, one of the reasons I loved this book as much as I did was that Gabe did grovel, big time. He doesn’t just say “Hey, turns out I am capable of love—let’s have babies!” Oh no, Mia tells him (spoilery bit) outright:

“If you ever wake up and decide you want me back? You’re going to have to crawl.” (Banks 313).

Both Mia and Gabe grow and change within the context of their relationship in a way that makes the ending satisfying, which really sold the book for me. There’s also a lot of hot sexing in here. If you’re not down with reading about some spanking, light bondage, and anal sex, then you don’t want to read this book. At least not past like, chapter one; it’s pretty much Cinemax after 1 a.m. beyond that.

Personally I’m looking forward to the next two books, especially smarmy, sexy Ash’s. How can you resist a guy who says, “See, this is why you should come work for me. I’d pet you and love you and be nice to you.” (Banks 175). Oh hell, yes.


This book is available at Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks. The sequel, Fever ( A | BN | K | S | ARe | iB ), came out April 2.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kati says:

    *pats couch*

    Oh Elyse, you come sit next to me.

    I loved Rush. And I loved Fever even more. I know alot of readers had issues with Rush and what went down in Paris. For me, I thought the book was emotional and sexy and really fun to read. The book worked for me on almost every level as a reader.

    Welcome to the Bitchery! I’m looking forward to reading more of your reviews!

  2. 2
    Torifl says:

    It’s like her vagina is Disney World or something—a magical place where memories are made.

    I’m not a fan of the books but I did love your review. :)

  3. 3
    shuzluva says:

    A big ole’ Bitchery welcome Elyse!

    And…I just bought both books. Thanks for the review and the honest opinion about your reaction as well as others. That’s what I love about the Bitchery: love it or hate it, you’re going to get an honest opinion and discussion welcome.

    I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  4. 4

    I liked this book more than I thought that I would –

    While I liked 50, this is better written with less cliche’

    I have fever in my reader – time to move on

  5. 5
    Samalamadingdong says:

    Elyse, you had me at “big spoon.”

    I’ve been eye-ing the book covers of this trilogy. You’ve definitely convinced me to see if my library has this one.

  6. 6
    Liz H. says:

    finds, to his horror, that he likes being the big spoon. Sweet Jesus, she makes him want to cuddle.

    I hope you did your 25 push-ups. Sounds like this book will get you in shape quickly.

  7. 7
    Liz H. says:

    Arrgh, that was supposed to put quotes in. Please imagine their presence, and some italicizing if you’re feeling generous

  8. 8
    Emily M says:

    It’s like her vagina is Disney World or something—a magical place where memories are made. 

    This is pure brilliance! Excellent review *runs off to find Rush*

  9. 9

    Erotica is not my thing, but this review is excellent. A+, would lol again. ^_^

    Welcome to the Bitchery!

  10. 10
    Laylapalooza says:

    I kind of want to read this now. Great review!

  11. 11

    Reading this review reminded me that I downloaded a sample of Rush awhile back—looks like I need to go read it! Not sure I will read the rest of the trilogy, though, if they are BDSM books too. I’m starting to run out of interest in that theme.

  12. 12
    Jillian says:

    Can we be friends?! I read Rush last week and your review was everything about it that I couldn’t put into words.

    Also, please review Fever next. I ask simply because I’m intrigued, but I can’t get into the whole ménage a trois thing ever and don’t want to buy it with the feeling that I’m going to hate it from the get go.

    Anyways, great review of a great book. Welcome.

  13. 13
    Jess says:

    Adding this one to my library list and passing the review on to my romance-reading friend!

  14. 14
    CarrieS says:

    Am almost positive I would hate the book – but I LOVE the review.  Disney World, tee hee hee!

  15. 15
    Dawnell says:

    Welcome Elyse!  And thanks for the review.  I have read some of Maya Banks’ writing before.  Thanks to your review, I can’t wait to read her foray into the world of hankly spanky!

  16. 16
    Kelly says:

    Oh, I am the odd woman out here!

    I disliked Rush intensely. So much that I DNF, which I never, ever do. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea or the content- I knew up front what I was getting into, and had enjoyed a lot of Bank’s previous works of the same style. The writing was fine, so much better than 50. I just couldn’t get over that he was basically paying her for sex. Yeah, she had a job, but she is working in his actual office instead of a cubicle or an office of her own. I just didn’t buy in that he wasn’t paying for sex. Read the reports, bend over. Answer the phone, spread your legs.

    The other thing is her and his ages. No matter how many times they explained how it wasn’t creepy and they were adults now, I couldn’t get over his being attracted to her since she was a teenager. She is now early 20s, hes in his late thirties, no one did anything illegal or improper when she was underage, i get it. Nevertheless, It squicked me out big time, especially now he was screwing her every chance he got. I read a bunch of Goodreads reviews spoiled the big plot drama, and I’m so glad I did, since my iPad would be in shambles from tossing it against the wall.

    So, I’m in the minority here (although with some good company on Goodreads). Unfortunately, I’m torn on the next two books- they look interesting, but I hate being burned on one and then being burned again with only myself to blame. I’ll still read other works by Banks in the future, though, as it was just the plot of this one, not the writing that got me riled up.

  17. 17
    Shawny J says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned the cover. I find it so weird. What is this book about? A tsunami? I think I mentioned this in another post last week, but my grocery store had re-releases of Maya Banks’ Sweet series on display last month. The covers are all….fruit? Is it a special cover for selling in grocery stores? Because the I’ve read a number of them in the series and there’s a lot of multiple partners and BDSM and crazy stuff that the fruity Twilight-esque covers just don’t convey to unsuspecting shoppers.
    Good review though. Welcome to the bitchery!

  18. 18
    Kelly S says:

    Welcome Elyse!  I loved your review & writing voice! 

    Considering my butt clenched at the mention of anal sex, I will be taking a pass on this book.  I appreciate the info you provided. :)

  19. 19
    JacquiC says:

    I am also in the minority, in that I can’t even bring myself to purchase this book after reading the premise (that he hires her for sex under the guise of giving her a job as his personal assistant and then gives her a “real” job as a kind of afterthought).  To me, that is so skeezy that I can’t even fork over the money to buy this one.

    But thanks for the review and look forward to hearing more from you!

  20. 20
    Meka says:

    I have been afraid to pick this book up because I have heard people have a hate on for whatever major scene happens in Paris.  I think I’d like to give it a tentative try though, but I’m still not feeling quite so brave yet.

    Welcome to the bitchery, Elyse!  I loved your review, and you made me laugh out loud several times.

  21. 21
    Crystal F. says:

    It’s like her vagina is Disney World or something—a magical place where memories are made.

    I nominate this for ‘Best Line from a Book Review EVER’. XD

    Welcome to SBTB!

  22. 22
    Sasha A. says:

    I just finished reading this book! I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d like to. I had problems with Gabe, mostly. His whole ‘if this makes me a selfish bastard, then so be it’ attitude doesn’t do anything for me. Granted, the regrets his treatments of Mia and thinks he should act more gently and treat her with more respect. But every time this happens, he quickly follows that thought with ‘But I don’t think I can control myself. I’m a jerk. So be it.’ IMHO, it just reads as lazy and self-serving. Not a quality I particularly enjoy in a romance hero.

    My other problem with him is a matter of personal taste, I suppose. For me, the contract symbolizes Mia signing over her life to Gabe. He dominate her life, body and soul. She basically has to do what he says, whenever he says it. It’s quite a major trigger for me. I can understand if it’s just some occasional domination play. But no, this pretty much dictates their entire relationship. Worse, I got the impression that this type of relationship will still continue even after they’re together for love, for real. Sure, he tears out the contract at the end but I don’t buy it. After all he said so himself (in the passage quoted in Elyse’s review): It’s a need he has. It’s a kink, but more than that, it’s who he is. That’s my major problem. I don’t believe in the hero. I don’t believe he changed enough to deserve the heroine. I don’t believe in their HEA.

  23. 23
    Amanda S says:

    I really enjoyed her KGI series up until Shades of Gray which was a big disappointment for me. Not to mention her books for kindle are too much $$.

  24. 24
    Rachel says:

    A magical place where memories are made. I wish I had thought of that line.

    My main problem with this book is no what went down in Paris, but the fact that Gabe is such a numpty that I can’t understand how he could run a business, much less be a billionaire genius. Are we really supposed to believe that he simply has to punch someone and say I will ruin you, and that they will run away and not leak photos on the internet? And we are supposed to be impressed when he says that he can make the villain swim with the fishes in concrete socks? I mean who is he? Tony Soprano.

    The love story was all very well, but please don’t give me heroes who are mentally impaired. It’s just annoying.

  25. 25
    siouxsie says:

    I’m in the minority – and the review made me laugh – but couldn’t finish Rush.  That never happens, ya’ll!!  I knew what is was about, love erotica/bdsm, love Maya Banks’ other works, yada yada, but found the Mia/Gabe dynamic off-balanced from day 1. 

    Because of that, I couldn’t enjoy the fluffy fun sexytimes stuff.  I never bought Gabe as a responsible dom – he seemed to have the self-awareness of a toddler – and once I visualized a thought bubble above his head that said, “I’m a douche!” I coudn’t get back on the fan wagon.

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