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Andrew Smith
Gameboard of the Gods
Richelle Mead
Burning Up (Berkley Sensation)
'Meljean Brook', 'Virginia Kantra', 'Angela Knight', Nalini Singh
Love and Other Perishable Items
Laura Buzo
The Orphan Master's Son
Rush - Maya Banks There seem to be a slew of romance/erotica books hitting the market lately that all have similar premises. An extremely wealthy, ruthless and domineering playboy becomes involved with a much younger woman, usually working for him in some capacity. The young woman may or may not be a virgin but is usually less sexually experienced than the male and the male may dabble in BDSM. The relationship usually escalates to a point where both parties are obsessed or addicted to the other and they both have to learn to cope with these new, intense feelings. I tend to think of this as the 50 Shades Effect. And I am not knocking 50 Shades. I've read excerpts and it's just not for me. I know many people loved it. I like to call 50 Shades of Grey the gateway smutand if it get more people to read romance and erotica, then I am all for it. However, I've read several books in a similar vein now and, while the characters constantly talk about the depth of their emotions for each other, I have a hard time believing it.Such was the case with Gabe and Mia. Mia's always been Gabe's best friend's little sister of Gabe's best friend until one day he notices that she's not so little anymore. Mia's always had a crush on Gabe but tells herself that she'll never have him. Until one day, Gabe decides to act on his attraction and pulls out a contract, asking Mia to enter into a relationship with him. So here's my first problem. I had a really hard time believing that an intelligent woman like Mia would sign a contract basically saying that she would become a sexual submissive to Gabe. I know he;s hot and she's really attracted to him, but it felt contrived. I also got tired of the words "addiction," "obsession," and "like a drug" constantly being used to describe their feelings for one another. I get it - you're hot for each other. I had mixed feelings about Gabe. Sometimes he was really sweet and kind to Mia, and other times he was a complete ass. He was overprotective and possessive, which I can enjoy in an alpha male, but Gabe takes it too far. He doesn't allow Mia to get to work on the subway or take cabs. I definitely think Mia is old enough and smart enough to take the subway to work once in a while. I am glad Mia didn't let him push her around completely though and wanted to give her a high five when she called him out on his bullshit near the end of the book.There was one scene that I really had a problem with in the book. It's the scene that takes place in Paris. Now I am not any kind of authority in BDMS and what little I know of it, I learned from TIffany Reisz. However, even to my layman eyes, this scene was just wrong. I really don't understand how Gabe could do something so stupid and dangerous. For a man who is so paranoid about being betrayed that he makes women sign a contract before getting involved with him, it makes no sense that he would go through with the scene in Paris, involving potential business partners. Not only is is dangerous for business, it's also dangerous to Mia. BDSM is all about trust. A Sub needs to trust her partner to take care of her and not put her in dangerous situations. So either Gabe is really dumb, or a supreme asshole. Neither reflects well on him.As you can see, this book just wasn't for me. I have no doubt that Ms. Banks is a talented writer but the two main characters did not do it for me. I have heard good things about her other books though and plan to read them. The sex scenes were smoking hot. I also liked the fact that this is a standalone book. Yes, it's part of a series but Gabe and Mia's story ends here and the next book goes to Jace. I am actually a little curious about Jace's book but may wait a while to give it a try.