Tuesday, January 7, 2014

5 Heart Review: Breathe by Lauren Jameson

Breathe (In Vino Veritas #2)
Lauren Jameson

Page Count: 304

Release Date: December 3rd, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade (Penguin Group)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Signet Eclipse!)
Rating♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Two people learn what it really means to give up control in the sizzling new novel from the author of Blush and Surrender to Temptation...

When business mogul Elijah Masterson travels to the Mexican coast for his chain of luxury resorts, he purchases an emerald green glass sculpture for one of the properties. He is soon fascinated by the fiery temptress who created it. The attraction between them is instant and explosive, but Elijah resists, unsure that a woman as strong-willed as Samantha would ever yield in the way he needs her to.

Headstrong glass artist Samantha Collins hides a secret desire to submit to the right man. Samantha sees everything she wants in Elijah, but apart from one steamy night, he seems determined to keep his distance. She has always held back, but refusing to let go now that she’s found the dominant man she’s always wanted, Samantha makes Elijah an offer he can’t refuse: a month of absolute submission.

But after a month of incredible passion, will either of them be able to walk away?

Review


But being restrained—that had been a major turn-on. More than that, the manner in which Elijah had taken her in his arms after she'd had her momentary panic attack had filled something deep inside her. The way he'd wrapped her in a blanket, held her close, fed her—it had been strange and some kind of wonderful to be taken care of.
That was what she wanted, more than anything she'd seen in the BDSM club. She wanted a strong man, a man who would take care of her without questioning her endlessly about it. A man who wasn't put off by the fact that she could be argumentative and stubborn.
Elijah was that man. She was absolutely sure of it.

Considering how much I adored the first book in the In Vino Veritas series, Blush, which I reviewed back in May, I thought I would love Breathe, but I was actually very disappointed. With backdrops of breezy José del Cabo and colorful Las Vegas, Breathe is business tycoon Elijah Masterson's story—the story of how he finds the girl who steals his heart, and how he responds to her touch—even though she isn't fully available for his taking.

Samantha, our heroine, is running away from a deep, terrible past that still haunts her in the flesh today. I don't know what it is in recent trends that has glamorized childhood trauma, but as you can imagine, this "escaping the past" trope was predictable, superficial, and left a bad taste in my mouth—not because it was too horrible for words, but because it was so recklessly developed. Samantha has always had to be the responsible one, the one who had to pick up the scattered pieces of her broken family, but when she meets Elijah, a relationship as fiery as her personality ignites, and for once, she gets the chance to give up control.

There are two problems here that I can name already: first, the degree of "heat" of the relationship, and second, Samantha's "sassy" attitude—both the result of poor characterization. Whatever chemistry there is supposed to be between Elijah and Samantha is unconvincing; I felt nothing for them, and didn't care enough to root for their romance either. While the more explicit sex scenes are taboo and decently written, the character interaction, the entire presumption of their so-called relationship, is stinted and utterly painful (and not in the good way!).

Samantha is portrayed as your typical contrary, smart-mouthed redhead who's so uptight that she can't ever be fully submissive. The heart of the book's tragedy lies here: while Samantha wants to surrender to Elijah's kinky ways, she is too much of a "strong, independent woman who don't need no man" to do so; and while Elijah is intrigued by this adorable, passionate character, he is a true Dom and cannot be with a sort-of, kind-of sub. She's the kind of girl that could make him get way over his head—fall in love too quickly and get hurt—again. The dilemma of the impossible power play, as well as the secret he wants to coax out of her without damaging her, is really well elaborated, but that's about all I can praise.

The characters themselves are hard to sympathize with; entirely two-dimensional and routine. Samantha huffs her breath out and puts her fists on her hips too much, while Elijah does creepy, unrealistic things like call her "kitten" and lust after his best friend's fiancée. Jameson tried too hard to make each character ideal—Samantha the brazen, bold heroine, and Elijah the smooth, rich Dom—but she ended up making them unrealistic and rather ridiculous in the process.

I thought I'd at least enjoy the BDSM aspect, but nope, didn't happen. Samantha's immersion into the world of kink is uncannily Fifty Shades-esque; we've got a pathetically naïve innocent girl with only not-so-witty inner monologues to her name, and we've got a billionaire-slash-handsome-devil who's an expert on whips and chains and gags. On top of this, we have an author trying way too hard to be inventive, to be sexy; it was entirely unsexy. A few nights together and a trip to Elijah's infamous sex club later, and they're already developing separation anxiety. They call it incredible passion. They call it love.

Sorry, but this one just wasn't for me.

Pros


Brief cameos of characters from Blush // Intense love scenes // D/s relationship well explored // Quickly paced; I kept reading, didn't I?

Cons


Physical BDSM is poorly incorporated // Laughable characters // Laughable romance/love/whatever // Stereotypical "rich sex god falls in love with unextraordinary girl" plot // Emotionally artless; Jameson tries too hard to be sentimental, but I got nothing out of it

Verdict


Breathe's pages turned easily and were paced well, but the story itself is insipid, unoriginal, and at times, just too over-the-top. A clear Fifty Shades of Grey wannabe—the two books having nearly identical plots and equally ridiculous characters—the second installment of the In Vino Veritas series disappointed me sorely. Frustratingly, I really wanted to enjoy this novel about giving up and handing over control, but I must have gotten my hopes up too high; even if you're a fan of Blush or Jameson's alter ego, Lauren Hawkeye's other works, I can't recommend this one Americanflag

5 hearts: Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book (x)