Post-Fifty Shades erotica intrigues me. Three years ago, it's unlikely that I would have found a book like this at my local bookstore. Not necessarily because it was not been written, published and subsequently stocked at my local bookstore, but because it would have taken up a much smaller shelf, in a far less prominent area in the story and probably would have missed my eye completely. And, I'll be totally honest here. If by some miracle I had of found the book, I would have been far too embarrassed about reviewing it--as it would mean admitting that I had read this kind of trash in the first place. And I'll continue to be honest here. Most post-Fifty Shades erotica, whether it's just been published or enjoying a much larger second print run, is trash. Think repetitive, cliched romances and sex scenes reminiscent of porn. And perhaps those things are a massive part of the appeal. Also, there is the element escapism. The reader is free to experience an intense, sexual relationship that probably wouldn't work out so well in real life, within the safe confines of a book, or the risk of cheating on their long term partner. I do not think I'm the ideal reader for this kind of thing--I prefer erotica that has a strong literary element, because well, I'm a bit of a book snob. Also, I like strong women and don't like the glamourisation of what is, essentially, intimate partner violence. Make of that and my review of Rush below, what you will.
Rush is the first volume of New York Times Bestselling author Maya Banks Breathless trilogy. It's trashy, sensational and printed on cheap paper. Rush tells the story of Mia Crestwell is a young, university graduate who is contracted by an older billionaire to be his submissive. Essentially, she sells him her body and herself--he can do anything he likes to her and she does not have the right to say no. There are no safe words. Scary stuff. As the book progresses, I read some pretty sexy scenes and had confirmed over and over what I had suspected at the beginning. Gabe Hamilton is a complete bastard. As for Mia, she lacks the confidence to say no to Gabe--not that the nature of their relationship give her much opportunity. Young and naive, Mia mistakes her fears and infatuation for love, which probably explains why she would be willing to go along with a relationship that has such confining terms and conditions. Gabe's 'ownership' of Mia includes forced sex and a scene that I was unable to read in its entirety where Gabe asks Mia to perform fellatio on him in front of a number of his business associates. As for the romantic subplot, we get lots of descriptions of Gabe, his appearance, wealth and Mia's desire for him and not so much about Mia. This is a standard romance novel technique. Describe the hero in detail, and gloss over the heroine, so that members of the target, female readership, may insert themselves into the book and imagine for a few hours that they are the heroine. Though why anyone would want to imagine they were Mia Crestwell is a little beyond me, but that is their prerogative.
Too me, Rush seemed to be all about shock value and the romantic ending felt quite unbelievable--that a man like Gabe could change so dramatically or that he would express his guilt over his actions in such a way, or that Mia could be so understanding. The volume ends with an introduction to the next book in the series, Fever. This one definitely was not a winner for me.