Thursday, August 07, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Fifth Avenue Trilogy

Avenge Me by Maisey Yates (Harlequin Presents, 2014; 272 pgs) 

Opening Sentence: It was supposed to be an evening of bland conversation.

The first in the Fifth Avenue Trilogy about three men set on bringing down a paragon of society whose dark secrets will be his undoing.  That paragon of society happens to be Austin Treffen's father.  Austin and Katy Michaels, the sister of one of Austin's father's victims, are at the heart of Avenge Me. Brought together by circumstance and an immediate and rather intense connection, the two join forces to begin the push to bring Austin's dad down.  

Avenge Me tackles some very serious issues, including prostitution, sexual assault and drug abuse.  Not one to especially care for romance novels where the main characters immediately jump into bed together, Maisey Yates actually makes it work in Avenge Me.  While I questioned Katy's common sense at first, it made sense the more I got to know her character.  Both she and Austin are tightly wound, control being their middle name.  Katy has been on a vengeance kick since her sister's death and Austin is unable to shake the feelings of self-loathing and guilt over Sarah Michaels' death.

Except for the one moment in which the author describes Katy looking down at her food when their take out hadn't even arrived yet, I was quite swept up in the story. While Katy and Austin won't win my favorite characters' award, they seem well suited for each other.  I liked the way their relationship developed and the way Katy responds to Austin's darker moments.  I respected her more for it--and appreciated the author for taking Katy there.


Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews (Harlequin Presents, 2014; 272 pgs)

Opening Sentence: Zoe Brook strode into the exclusive strip club, hidden away beneath a discreet sign on a side street in an otherwise upscale Manhattan neighborhood, like an avenging angel on the warpath at last.

Zoe Brook is one of the top public relations agents out there, and she's set her sights on the wealthy former NFL player Hunter Grant III. She intends to use him in order to exact her revenge on the well known and admired Jason Treffen, a prominent attorney and philanthropist known for his fight for women's rights.  Or so he would like people to think.  Zoe, who once had worked for Jason Treffen, knows all too well he has dark secrets, and she is determined to out him as the dirty scumbag he is.

Hunter hasn't a clue why Zoe is determined to rehabilitate his tarnished image, an image he worked hard to achieve after the death of his ex-girlfriend Sarah Michaels all those years ago.  He blames himself for her suicide and is mired in guilt.  His resistance soon gives way to curiosity--and lust for this beautiful and powerful woman.  When he does find out what Zoe is up to, his former reluctance to get involved with his best friends', Austin and Alex, own revenge plan against the elder Treffen, falls by the wayside.  He's all in and Jason Treffen had better watch out.

I confess I did not like Hunter much at first and Zoe came on so strong, I was not sure I would like her either.  I grew to like them though.  Hunter is much more than what he first appears and once I got to know Zoe better, I had a lot of respect for her.  She came by her strength the hard way, and it was impossible not to admire her for it.  Like with the previous book featuring Austin and Katy, both Hunter and Zoe come with a lot of baggage.  The two are clearly starved for love and acceptance, both of which they find in each others' arms.

There were two scenes that stick out in my mind after finishing Scandalize Me.  The scene in the rain when Hunter asks Zoe why she's mad at him and a scene towards the end involving Hunter and a teenage football player.  Both were extremely touching scenes and summed the characters up well.



Expose Me by Kate Hewitt (Harlequin Presents, 2014; 272 pgs)

Opening Sentence: Alex Diaz leaned forward in his seat as the limo pulled to the curb of Seventy-Second Street and West End Avenue.  

In the third and final novel of the Fifth Avenue Trilogy, it is Alex Diaz's turn to put the final nail in Jason Treffen's coffin. Austin, Jason's son, has done his part, and Hunter is in the process of carrying out his at the start of Expose Me.  Alex wants to make Jason's humiliation as public as possible, and the timing couldn't be more perfect.  Jason Treffen has a rare television interview coming up with the beautiful and competent Chelsea Maxwell.  If Alex can convince Chelsea of just how corrupt and vile Jason Treffen truly is and get her to confront him on her show, he, Austin and Hunter can have their ultimate revenge on the man who destroyed Alex's best friend, Sarah Michaels.  Sarah had taken her own life as a result of Jason's actions.

Chelsea long ago cultivated her image and has put everything into her work as a talk show host.  She had a rough life, one she wishes she could forget completely and yet it still haunts her.  When Alex first approaches her about Jason Treffen, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Alex.

Both Chelsea and Alex have serious commitment issues as a result of their pasts.  In addition, both take pride in their love for control of all things in their lives. Neither one comes from money and have risen to the top on their own.  Alex, who owns his own news network, feels confident he and Chelsea can give into their attraction to each other with no strings. And Chelsea agrees.  Only it doesn't work out quite like they hoped--and it scares them in different ways.

Like in the two previous books, Expose Me takes on the serious issues of prostitution and sexual assault and adds in child abuse and domestic violence.  I wish the author had given us a more full picture of the evening he and Chelsea spent with his family, but what did come out of it was revealing in its own way.

Chelsea is another strong female character who had to overcome great odds to get to where she is today.  She showed a lot of growth over the course of the novel, and while Alex played a part in that, he was more of a catalyst than a cause.  There is one line in particular that made me heart sing for Chelsea in the second half of the book that speaks volumes for how much she'd grown.  I won't share it here for risk of spoiling anything.

Overall, I enjoyed The Fifth Avenue Trilogy, although I cannot say I was smitten with it.  I have a hard time completely buying into characters who are all beautiful and gorgeous and in perfect shape.  I liked that the trilogy dealt with such serious issues and did so with respect and care to the victims.  I thought all three of the authors did a wonderful job in developing their female protagonists, demonstrating their strengths and vulnerabilities.  I confess I personally was not drawn to the men the way their female counterparts were--their initial (and, in some cases, continued) arrogance being a big turn off.  Still, it was not me who needed to fall in love with them.  To be fair, they were nice guys with good hearts. The couples were well matched, the chemistry between them obvious and fitting.

While each book can be read individually as stand alones, I would recommend you read them in order.  Each book is connected and the time line overlaps between the books to some extent. It was fun to see as I don't often read books that have done that.

*There is a prequel to the trilogy called Take Me by Maisey Yates which was published in June of this year.  I have not read it.

Source: I received e-copies of all three books for review from the publisher via NetGalley.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

14 comments:

  1. This sounds like a fun series even though it was somewhat unbelievable. The host of beautiful, perfect characters does stretch credibility though it can be kind of a fun escape. I'll definitely be looking for this series though I will read it in order.

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    1. Katherine - That's true. It can be a fun escape. These were fun books, even with the heavy topics covered. I like seeing bad people get what they deserve in the end. :-)

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  2. What an interesting premise. Three stand-alone books that center on one theme, with characters that interact, and overlapping time lines? I like that approach.

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    1. Jenclair - I thought it was an interesting approach too. Especially since there were three entirely different authors involved as well.

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  3. Interesting reviews of these books that I hadn't heard of. Thanks!

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  4. I love a good romance so how could I possibly resist wanting to read these?? Sounds like my kind of reads :) especially as I have been in the mood for some contemporary romance. Great review!

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    1. Samantha - I hope you enjoy these books if you do read them. :-) I think I'm finding I still prefer romance with a paranormal element or a mystery, but sometimes a contemporary mystery is just what a reader needs.

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  5. This sounds like an interesting series. I appreciate romance novels much more when they address serious issues (in a serious way).

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    1. A.M.B. - I think these do deal with the subject matter in a serious way, although I have to add that these are still fairly light reads.

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  6. These don't sound like the kinds of novels I generally enjoy, but it does sound like they are well done.

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    1. Irene - Yes, I'm not sure I would recommend these to you. :-)

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  7. The Fifth Avenue Trilogy sounds worth reading, but I do know what you mean. I like my characters realistic. Interesting that these are written by different authors. Giving my shallowness when it comes to book covers, I'd totally pick these up if I saw them...lol.

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    1. Naida - I'm kind of glad the guys on the cover are fully clothed. LOL

      I do prefer more realistic characters, that's for sure. If you do read these books, I hope you enjoy them!

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