A book review of Maya Banks’ Just One Touch

I have just finished reading Just One Touch by Maya Banks.  Maya Banks is probably my favourite author, which is really saying something when you read more than 140 books each year like I do.  I loved her Montgomery and Armstrong series, set in historical Scotland, which started with Never Seduce A Scot.  I have reread it a number of times.  I also loved her contemporary military KGI series, especially Whispers in the Dark, the fourth book, which I’ve reread a number of times. And I really enjoyed the first three books in the Slow Burn series which are contemporary military romances with strong paranormal aspects.  I’ve read quite a few of her other books too, including a few of her more risque books.  So, having said all that, Just One Touch, the fifth book in the Slow Burn series, is so below Maya Banks’ normal standards. I rated it just one star.

First off, there was the instalove. Jenna is a healer, and when Isaac is shot, she heals him. This is their very first interaction. Apparently Jenna doesn’t just heal Isaac’s body, but his soul too. He likens to her to an angel. Despite others she heals having very similar reactions, Isaac decides he is in love with Jenna, and she has no choice but to love him back. There is virtually no mention of any other facet of Jenna, just her amazing healing ability. He barely even knows her.

Jenna has lived an extremely sheltered life. She has never been touched in kindness by a man, let alone had a kiss or fallen in love. She falls for Isaac’s worship of her, and believes they are meant to be together. Again, she barely knows him and is more in love with the idea of being loved than anything particular to Isaac.

Secondly, Isaac’s ‘love’ for Jenna is more like obsession. There are numerous mentions of how he can’t ever let her go and how lucky it is that she loves him too because he wouldn’t let her go either way.

“God, I’m such a bastard to even think that way, much less say it out loud, when you’ve been a prisoner for damn near your entire life, and yet here I am locking you up again and refusing to free you. But honey, it will be the sweetest of prisons. I swear on my life that I’ll spoil you ridiculously and pamper and take care of you and love you so damn much that you never look at it for what it is—a prison—but instead you’ll only see your forever home.

Um, what? That’s so wrong, not to mention illegal. Just because you treat her well doesn’t mean that you can take away someone’s freedom and right to choose.  He even acknowledges the similarities between Jenna’s kidnappers and himself, noting that the only difference is that he would adore her instead of using her. Her permission seems irrelevant.

He swallowed back his sudden insecurity, because Jesus fuck, he was as crazy and obsessed and over the top as Jaysus, only Isaac’s obsession was with making her laugh, smile, giving her every single thing, no matter how large or small, her heart desired from now until the end of their time on earth together. And then he’d simply follow her into the afterlife, where he’d continue driving her every bit as crazy as he knew he’d likely drive her in this lifetime, and he felt not one iota of remorse, nor would he ever apologize, for his brand of obsession.

It’s all so wrong. And so shockingly beneath Maya Banks’ normal standards of book. Do NOT be put off Maya Banks if you haven’t read her other work. I’d even recommend the first three books in this series, where we meet Ari, Gracie and Ramie. Those three books were fantastic. The fourth didn’t do much for me, but this fifth Slow Burn novel is not worth your time and attention.

Books read in June

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Night Unbound by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Blind Faith by Teresa Gabelman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Sound of Her Warrior Heart by M L Buchman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

An Unconventional Meeting by E V Darcy *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Working It by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Touch of Fire by Jasmine B Waters *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Adam’s Song by Spencer Spears *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tartan Two-Step by Grace Burrowes *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall
I had a pretty good idea of where this story was going, because in the previous novel, Yuri was killed in action.  Now, we step back in time a little and he’s the main character in a romance?  Oh, wait, the girl he falls in love with is a ghost.  Hmm, predictable much?  So yeah, Yuri dies and the two ghosts get to be together forever…as ghosts.  Ugh.  This was definitely not up to Dianne Duvall’s normal standards.

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams
Although it was well written, this book wasn’t for me.  I would have rated it two stars for my personal enjoyment of the book, but it seemed a little unfair to the author.  I mean, it’s a novel featuring a gay couple who are in a dominant/submissive relationship – it seems unfair to reduce my rating because I didn’t enjoy the dom/sub aspect of it.  But I didn’t.  And I was unable to give it more than three stars.

For me, a relationship has to be equal.  These two were equals at work, equals in strength, etc.  They were not equals in their relationship.  To me, it seemed that Wayne didn’t see Ellis as an equal.  Instead, Wayne felt superior, smarter, more of an ‘adult’, and he patronised Ellis.  I felt like it was more like a parent/child relationship than one of equals.  This was emphasised by the way Wayne addressed Ellis as ‘boy’ and made Ellis call him ‘Sir’.

I also felt like the last third of the book was an extended epilogue.  The book just kept going and going and going…  I was so over it by the time I finally finished.

Books read in May

The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Strong Medicine by J K Hogan *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Rendezvous With Yesterday by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Seven Years by Dannika Dark *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tracking You by Kelly Moran *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Unicorns and metaphors

Fragile strands,
ephemeral as candy floss,
twine around my fingers
in shades of raspberry
and amaranth
as I comb my fingers
through her mane.

Her coat, in champagne pink,
reminds me of deep, expensive
shag pile carpet,
the kind you sink into,
the kind that invites you to
curl up and dream.

The sturdy sensibility of
her tapered, achromatic horn
contrasts sharply with
eyes that dance with delight
and a thousand tiny rainbows.

And as we watch each other
with wary wonder,
I am so utterly enchanted
that I miss the symbolism
altogether.

Books read in March

Into The Lair by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Midnight Angel by Lisa Marie Rice *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Into The Mist by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Business As Usual by Alison Hendricks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Burning Bright by Melissa McShane *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

 

Top ten books

Prompt: If you were creating a list of top ten books, what would you choose and why? Is there an ongoing theme?

A Restored Man by Jaime Reese
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Love Comes in Darkness by Andrew Grey
Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey
Morganna by Jackie Ivie
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks

Putting together a top ten of books was crazy hard. They’re not in order of preference, by the way, that would have been even harder! I started off with all the books I’ve rated five stars on Goodreads, and then removed the ones that didn’t immediately leap out at me. Then I went with the ones that I’ve either re-read the most often or the ones where the story or characters have stayed clear in my mind over time.

It’s interesting to analyse.

  • 100% are romance. Duh.
  • 30% of my top ten are by Maya Banks and 20% are by Andrew Grey. That speaks highly for both those authors.
  • 70% are contemporary and only 30% are historical.
  • 30% are paranormal.
  • 50% are m/m and the other 50% are m/f.
  • 20% involve military or similar. Yep, those are both Maya Banks books. She does the military ones well.
  • A whopping 60% involve disabilities of some sort, whether physical or mental. And I know that some of the ones that I was humming and haaing over whether to include in my top ten did as well. Apparently I like characters with disabilities. If I break it down even further, excluding disabilities arising from the paranormal, it’s 50/50 for physical or mental disabilities. Interesting. And I haven’t included temporary disabilities arising out of injuries that will heal (which you tend to get with the military style ones).
  • I think 70% of them are based in America, which is interesting because I wouldn’t have said that’s my preference. I think there’s 20% Scottish and 10% English.

Yeah, very interesting.

Books read in January

Stay With Me by Ann T Cee *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Quinn by Lily Baldwin  *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

A Cowboy’s Home by R J Scott *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Snow In Montana by R J Scott *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Second Chances by Jerry Cole *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Switched by N R Walker *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Speechless by Kim Fielding *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Stay With Me by Ann T Cee
There was no conflict in this story.  I was hoping for something…more.  It was sweet and…boring.

Switched by N R Walker
We’ve all heard stories of babies being switched at birth, but few of us can imagine what it must feel like to be in that situation.  N R Walker gives us a fascinating insight.

At first I felt like Israel’s parents were too evil.  No one is black and white.  But the author corrects this by giving us insight into their behaviour and showing other sides of their personalities making them more multi-dimensional.

Overall, I found the concept and story quite fascinating.

Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg
The characters in this were well fleshed out, which made them feel real and believable despite the paranormal aspect.  I loved the Princess Bride references and the general humour.