DDS REVIEW: Fifth Avenue Trilogy by Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, & Kate Hewitt

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 13:00
Posted in category Review

Duckies Do SeriesLiviania’s review of Fifth Avenue Trilogy by Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, & Kate Hewitt
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 1 Jun 141 Aug 14

Harlequin Presents’ Fifth Avenue trilogy promises revenge and sex among New York City’s elite.  I initially assumed that this trilogy was Harlequin’s way of getting a little Fifty Shades of Grey action into a series line.  In a way it is, but this trilogy mostly hews to the Harlequin Presents mold, including other multi-author interconnected series that have been done by the line.  The three books do have a range of dynamics between the hero and heroine, so there is a nice bit of variety within the trilogy.
Take MeTake Me, Prequel

This is a brief novella that takes place on the night that changed everything for heroes Austin, Hunter, and Alex.  It is a bit jarring, however, because it goes almost instantly from suicide to a friends-to-lovers storyline.  It is not necessary to read Take Me before the series, and in fact Travis Beringer and Sydney Davis never show up in the series.  (And, in fact, their contribution to the series’ action is contradicted in the first book.)

This free prequel is really only for completionists.  It’s too quick to give much weight to the romance.  With the short amount of pages, the vast majority of the interaction between Travis and Sydney is the sex scene.  It’s only true purpose is to set up the revenge storyline, but that is covered in the main series.  It might whet some appetites, but it feels hastily thrown together to me.

Grade: D+

Summary:

Where it all began…

As the son of a high-powered attorney, Travis Beringer has never wanted for anything…except the elusive Sydney Davis. But everything changes in an instant with the shocking death of her roommate, Sarah Michaels, and suddenly Sydney is in his arms, desperately seeking oblivion.

Encased within a sensual web of desire, Travis and Sydney delight in every erotic touch they’ve fought for so long. But what will happen when the dust has settled and the harsh light of day ushers in a reality neither is prepared to face?

Read an excerpt here.

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Avenge MeAvenge Me, Book 1

Austin Treffen fears that he might be like his father, Jason Treffen.  Austin used to look up to him, a big-shot lawyer who used his power to advocate for women.  But when Austin’s best friend Sarah Michaels committed suicide, he realized that his father had something to do with it.  He cut ties and decided to get revenge, alongside his and Sarah’s friends, Hunter and Michael.  As it turns out, Katy Michaels, Sarah’s younger sister, has also been gathering evidence against Jason.  She’s getting close enough to the truth to be in danger, and Austin is determined to protect her the way he couldn’t protect Sarah.

Avenge Me is the only book in the trilogy to really incorporate the d/s milieu of Fifty Shades of Grey in its sex scenes.  Austin likes having control in the bedroom, but he feels ashamed afterwards due to the things he knows about his father’s relationship with women.  Katy likes giving up control, since she’s worked so hard to have it in other aspects of her life.  She’s a self-made woman, who couldn’t rely on her drug-addict parents, and that took a toll on her.  The sex scenes themselves are pretty spicy, but much like Katy, I got tired of Austin beating himself up and acting cold to Katy afterward.  Unfortunately, it takes most of the book for her to even point out that his kinks aren’t that weird.  There is a reasonable explanation for his behavior, but I just don’t like seeing the hero of a book make the heroine feel unhappy and shameful.

I do really like that Katy has her own stake in getting revenge on Jason.  It is not just about a bunch of men avenging a woman.  She really has a drive to get the truth that was what was needed to spur Austin into taking concrete action after ten years.  I don’t always like the balance of power between them.  I know Harlequin Presents heroes are often high handed, but I think Austin getting Katy fired so that she would move in with him is a bit much, even if she does take him to task over it.  In addition, I wish there were more scenes with Jason.  For the villain behind the whole series, he doesn’t have much of a presence in Avenge Me.  It makes the stakes feel a bit low.

Avenge Me is my least favorite of the trilogy.  I just can’t get over Austin’s early behavior toward Katy.  I’m glad to see her get a happy ending, however, because she fought hard for it.  I would also be interested if Maisey Yates ever writes a story about Austin’s sister.

Grade: C-

Summary:

TEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Austin Treffen was born into a world of privilege, but behind its gilded doors lies a corruption so sordid New York’s elite would never believe it—especially as his infamous philanthropic father is at its core! With everything he believed in shattered, how can Austin take down his father—risking his family name and those he loves—without any proof?

Until one earth-shattering night with Katy Michaels unlocks not only their deepest, most passionate desires but also the key to bringing Jason Treffen’s reign to an end. But with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain, will they satiate their thirst for revenge and each other or lose themselves forever in the darkness?

Read an excerpt here.

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Scandalize MeScandalize Me, Book 2

Hunter used to date Sarah Michaels back in college, but she dumped him one year before her suicide.  He blames himself not only for not seeing the signs, but also focusing more on proving that he was over her when they interacted.  Zoe worked with Sarah, and was caught up in the same mess.  She’s ready to take her revenge on Jason Treffen, and she knows that Sarah’s not-so-blameless bad-boy ex-boyfriend is the perfect person to help her with her plan.  The start is getting him to hire her as his new PR agent.

One thing I really like about the Fifth Avenue trilogy is that Austin, Hunter, and Alex’s guilt over Sarah’s death is rooted in their own failures to listen to her.  That isn’t to say that they should be blamed, because they didn’t have the advantage of hindsight, but because they were young and callow they missed the seriousness of what was happening when Sarah reached out.  Hunter’s guilt manifested in him deciding to waste his own reputation and potential.  He did end up playing for the NFL, but acted unprofessionally to the point where he got kicked off his team.  Zoe’s real trouble in getting him on board is that he doesn’t want to rehabilitate his image.

Zoe is the ice-woman sort.  It looks like, for a scarce heartbeat, that Scandalize Me was going to incorporate d/s as well, with Zoe as a domme.  I’m a bit sad that didn’t come about, because it would be something different, particularly for Harlequin.  Zoe has struggled to move past what happened to her in her twenties and kept control in her relationships to keep herself safe.  Zoe and Hunter really help each other heal and learn to be intimate with another person again.

Scandalize Me is the best book in the series when it comes to the revenge plotline.  It starts with both Hunter and Zoe planning to use the other to get revenge, without realizing that they both want to take down the same person.  It adds some humor to the storyline, which might otherwise be pretty grim given how devastating Jason’s actions are.  Every time Jason runs in to Zoe, he is so incredibly slimy that you can’t wait for her to take him down.  I think that their actual plan is a bit convoluted, but Scandalize Me has the greatest emotional stakes, so it works.  Zoe’s triumph is incredibly satisfying.

Grade: B

Summary:

TEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Hunter Talbot Grant III, sports figure du jour, wealthy beyond measure and disreputable by choice, has cultivated a reputation that masks the shadows of his past. When the opportunity to ensure financial destruction for Jason Treffen arises, he can’t refuse. But first he must shake off the woman sent to tame him!

Zoe Brook, PR agent extraordinaire, never fails to transform a tarnished star. And Hunter’s no different. Except there’s a catch. Beneath their scorching mutual attraction, Zoe has a secret—she’s also been on the wrong side of Jason Treffen, and she has as much of a taste for revenge as Hunter does!

Read an excerpt here.

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Expose MeExpose Me, Book 3

Alex Diaz was a scholarship student, over which he bonded with neighbor and fellow not-so-rich student Sarah Michaels.  In the wake of her death, he’s risen to CEO of the most powerful and respected news station in the country.  I do love Harlequins, because only in a Harlequin is a Rupert Murdoch figure young, sexy, and half Dominican.  Heroine Chelsea Maxwell, meanwhile, is a bit of a Chelsea Handler-meets-Oprah type.  Her show is regarded as fluff, and there are multiple rumors that she slept her way to the top, but she has a talent for getting the famous to reveal their secrets and cry.  Now, she has an upcoming interview with Jason Treffen.  Alex wants her to reveal live on-air that the man isn’t a saint, but a human trafficker.

Chelsea is the only heroine in the series not to have anything to do with Sarah or Jason, which is a nice change of pace.  She does, however, have her own tragic past that she would like to keep secret.  She prefers not to make deep connections with anyone, to stick to meeting her sister once a week and to sleeping with one-night stands only.  Alex isn’t looking for a relationship either, so the two fall into bed pretty quickly after meeting to discuss business.  Then, they keep meeting.

I felt that the ebb and flow of their relationship is fairly realistic.  Alex pursues, because he can sense something more between them, but he also backs off when he shouldn’t, because he isn’t all that in touch with his emotions and he doesn’t have the relationship experience to know when he needs to be demonstrative.  At the same time, Chelsea makes her own way to being able to reach out to Alex when he retreats.  I also like that they do manage to keep business and pleasure fairly separate, given everything.

The conclusion of the revenge in Expose Me is pretty spectacular.  Alex and Chelsea have the least personal connection to Jason, but they also get the most public revenge.  (Some of the other characters come back for final blows.)  The books can be read individually, as there are very few crossovers, but the revenge does build nicely over the three books.  It has the most impact if all three books are read in the intended order.

Grade: B+

Summary:

TEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW A MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

With ruthless determination, Alex Diaz has risen up from his deprived roots to become the head of a global media empire. But he has one last thing to achieve… avenge his friend by destroying the man responsible for her death, Jason Treffen. With stunning talk-show host Chelsea Maxwell about to interview Treffen on live TV, this is Alex’s chance.

He’ll use her show to exact a very public revenge – and seducing Chelsea, if needed, would certainly be no hardship. But he underestimates Chelsea and the attraction between them, and as their relationship deepens, Alex realizes that to annihilate Treffen could also shatter the life the Chelsea has built to protect herself…

No excerpt found.

Livianias iconMaisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, and Kate Hewitt deliver three fast reads with three very different romances and one increasingly gratifying revenge.  They don’t break from the Harlequin Presents mold when it comes to the romance, which is as it should be, but they do have a greater emphasis on plot than many of the books in the line.  I think each of the books in the Fifth Avenue trilogy gets better, but it is worth reading all three to get the whole story.  (The prequel is entirely skippable.)

Overall Grade: B-

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