Review: With Every Breath by Maya Banks

w-every-breathMaya Banks
With Every Breath
Published August 23, 2016
($24.99 hardback, $7.99 ebook)

What do you get when two heavily armed and super sexy security professionals team up to take down a very bad bad guy?

Explosive chemistry!

Get it?! Explosive?!  (I know, so bad! I’m sorry.)

Terrible jokes aside, the chemistry is indeed explosive in Maya Banks’ With Every Breath, the fourth book in her Slow Burn series. The story begins with a terrible phone call: the man who nearly ruined Eliza Cummings’ life—and her sanity—is being released from prison on a technicality. As a teenager Eliza was tricked into falling in love with Thomas, a rich, handsome man who also happened to be a mind-reading, will-bending psychopath. Unbeknownst to Eliza, Thomas had spent years kidnapping women, torturing them in the basement of the house she hoped to someday call home. When Eliza discovered the truth, she turned Thomas over to the police and later played a central role in the trial that put him in prison for life. Until, that is, Thomas bribes and intimidates his way back onto the streets.

Eliza knows that with Thomas out of prison, there’s no way that she can protect the people she loves—her co-workers and friends at the Devereux Security Agency—unless she destroys Thomas … and herself in the process. She leaves a note for her beloved colleagues and prepares to leave town.

Her plan is ruined by Wade Sterling, the most annoying, most frustrating, most devastatingly sexy man Eliza has ever known. A few months before Wade had taken a bullet meant for Eliza, and ever since the tension between them had reached astronomical heights. What Eliza doesn’t know is that Wade has always wanted her, and after seeing her in danger he knew he had to have her. Though she treats Wade like a irritant rather than a lover, deep down Eliza knows she wants him, too. Their spats and verbal warfare are loaded with sexual suggestion, and any reader who loves an “enemies to lovers” romance will thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the book.

When Wade discovers Eliza about to make a run for it with a military base worth of weapons, he tails her to a house in the country. The confrontation that follows is arguably the best part of the book. Eliza is furious at Wade’s interference in her plan; Wade is furious at Eliza for trying to sacrifice herself. Eliza is filled with fear for Wade’s safety; Wade is filled with grief over Eliza’s painful past.  Wade can’t stop himself from telling Eliza how much he cares for her; Eliza is overwhelmed by his vulnerability.  They’re consumed with desire for each other, and they come together in a storm of passion and panic.  It’s hot, and it’s worth the wait.

I don’t want to give away all the details of the book—you’re welcome, future readers!—but I can tell you this: it’s intense.  And it ends as it should—with Eliza and Wade safe in each other’s arms (and beds!).

This is my first Maya Banks book. In general I would say that I liked it well enough, but I don’t think it will ever be a favorite. Certain aspects of the story were quite good: the character of Thomas was super creepy and believable in his crazy-pants craziness and, of course, waiting for Eliza and Wade to get together put a nice hurtin’ on my blood pressure. But overall the writing felt rushed and often times repetitive, and some of the dialogue was downright silly.

I also wasn’t crazy about the narrative of ownership Wade expressed about Eliza. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good alpha male. The idea of a super hot, mega-muscled babe taking a bullet for me (and living to tell the tale) has a certain allure. The problem is when the alpha male gets too alpha, and Wade Sterling was a bit too alpha for me. I don’t really want my hero to own my heroine, or even want to own her, especially in a 21st century world. I could’ve done with a little less “you’re mine, baby” and a little more, “you’re your own very hot person and now let’s have some very hot sex.”

Criticisms aside, I think this book will still be a hit for lots of readers. I would recommend it to fans of thriller-y plots, lovers of super masculine heroes and the “enemies to lovers” trope, and those who care more about story than prose.

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