Posted in: AztecLady Reviews, erotic romance, Maya Banks, Menage
This is only the third of Ms Banks’ tittles that I’ve read, but will by no means be the last. Published by Berkley Heat and labeled as an erotic romance, Be With Me focuses much more on the relationship than it does on the sex. Of course, the fact that it’s a ménage à quatre is probably reason enough for most people to consider it more erotica than romance.
And that brings me to the usual warning: this is adult reading material, with graphic sexual scenes and language.
Here’s the (humdrum) back cover blurb:
Three men. One woman.
Hutch Bishop, Cam Douglas and Sawyer Pritchard were delinquents with a reckless and wildly sexy side. But they had more in common than that. They had Regina Fallon, a wealthy but lonely girl from the right side of the tracks who formed an unusual friendship with the boys. She felt protected. She felt needed. She felt loved… for the first time in her life. By all three.
So much closer than just friends.
Today she’s a police officer, dedicated to her badge and wary of reigniting her relationship with the hot trio after one night of passion left her confused—and stunned—by what they wanted from her. But when a mysterious attempt is made on her life, Hutch, Cam and Sawyer jump in to protect her again. Now Regina and her three lovers are forming an all-new bond. It’s more exciting, more intense and—as a killer looms in the shadows—more dangerous than ever before.
The first chapter is an excellent example of action writing, introducing the heroine and showcasing her strengths in just a couple of pages: a small town police officer, Regina answers an anonymous call reporting a potential crime and finds herself face-to-face with a crazy, grudge-holding killer.
Hurt badly enough to land in a hospital bed for a couple of days, she ends up facing something more difficult and emotionally dangerous: the three men who she loves more than anyone or anything in her life.
The problem? A messy night of sex with the three of them after a lifetime of friendship.
I find it very interesting that Ms Banks focuses on the emotional aspect of the situation as much as she does—as far as I’m concerned, it’s the focus on the relationship that lends realism to the fantasy.
While there’s a bit of “his voice/touch/gaze got her hot and bothered/distracted/unable to think” there is no sex until page 170 or so—almost half the novel! There is a lot of page space devoted to exploring how each one of these four people feel about their relationships—between each of the guys and Regina, and between the guys themselves. There is no homo erotic implication anywhere; these are three men whose friendship goes deeper than any blood tie and who all love the same woman.
Knowing that that woman loves all three men equally—loving each one of them fully, yet loving the three of them—they have come to the conclusion that sharing her is the only way for any of them to have a romantic relationship with her.
It’s in fact an interesting premise (and one that I find very appealing personally) and the way Ms Banks’ characters approach it makes them all the more realistic. They are all aware of the obstacles they face—within the ménage and from outside forces. After all, living in a small Texas town and openly living such an unconventional relationship would make them all more vulnerable to external influences, from Regina’s boss to the guys’ clients.
The sex fits the story, and while it’s graphic and includes some kinky scenarios (a couple of multiple partner scenes, anal intercourse) I don’t find any of it gratuitous. I had some personal issues with wording, but I’ve come to realize that just because I don’t use a particular term or word doesn’t mean the character wouldn’t—and I really can’t expect a police officer to utter euphemisms in the throes of passion, now can I? 😀
So I really liked the book, even though there are some issues.
For example, there’s more than a fair bit of exposition—lots of telling and not a helluva lot of showing, for the set up. We are told that Regina’s parents never loved her; we are told how she and the guys met; we are told how their friendship grew and matured and, eventually, changed.
We are told—not shown. (Of course, given the later focus on the emotional aspect and inner musings of each of the four main characters, it can be argued that we are shown the product of all the telling—that is for each reader to determine.)
There is a bit of repetition, again info from the set up, but not enough to annoy, in my opinion. However… the whole killer angle? To me, it feels like an excuse to bring Regina and the guys together more than a legitimate plot thread—mostly because there are some holes in it. How the killer knew what he knew, while none of the main characters knew him, is one of the main questions I’m left with. (My, that’s a lot of knowing in there, isn’t it?)
The thing that bothered me most, though, is not seeing the relationship start and develop from friendship to romantic love—though I imagine the novel could have easily been three times as long then.
Be With Me gets 8 out of 10 from me.