Maya Banks’s latest Sweet erotic romance, Sweet Possession, may or may not be a tale of interracial romance. The cover, on which a topless man is pressed up against a topless woman, makes one think it’s likely the man is white and the woman is black or of mixed race. And while the man in the story, Connor Malone, is overtly described as white, his lover, Lyric Jones, is never ascribed a skin color. The only reason I thought about this as I read the book is that, in a lovely way, it doesn’t matter to the story. The barriers that stand in Connor’s and Lyric’s way are all of their own making and have nothing to do with social expectations. This is a nothing more and nothing less than the story of a man and woman learning how to love.
I’ve not read any other of Ms. Bank’s erotic romances but characters from the Sweet series permeate this book, and it’s pretty clear that compared to his co-workers and their partners, Connor’s idea of a good time is pretty tame. This book, for an erotic romance, is pretty tame. Connor and Lyric don’t make love until the book’s almost half done. And when they do, it’s in mainstream ways — no ménages, alternate entries, or fancy contraptions. This mainstream vibe is definitely, in the beginning, coming from Connor. Lyric, badly damaged by an abusive childhood, is a wild child. Yet her unconventional sex life has been about avoidance rather than connection, and from the moment she meets Connor she abandons her wilder ways. It’s clear to the reader — and, over time, to Lyric — that Connor Malone is a man who can show her how to conventionally love and be loved.
That’s not to say the two like each other when they first meet. Connor, an ex-military hunk who now works for his family’s security firm, grudgingly agrees to watch over Lyric as a favor for a friend of his father’s. Lyric is a pop star diva whose exploits fill the tabloids. She loves no one, trusts no one, and never ever wants to be alone with anyone. The idea of intimacy makes her skin crawl. When Connor tells her — which no one else has — that she’s been receiving threatening notes, she has to choose between allowing him to be with her constantly and endangering herself. She picks Connor and, within a little over a week, the two have found their way into bed.
Connor quickly realizes she’s it for him. Despite all her bravado, he sees her for the wounded woman she is and he loves her, flaws and all. It takes Lyric a while longer — which I have to say I liked. Every time they make love, she leaves — her fear of intimacy overpowers the sense of belonging she feels when she is in his arms. Letting him love her means letting her love herself and that, for Lyric, is way harder than rocking the pop charts.
Ms. Banks writes well and confidently about both Connor and Lyric. They are believable, winning characters, and by the time the two have settled into love I was happy for them both. The book isn’t perfect. The mystery around the threats to Lyric is transparently unthreatening. Every time the Sweet women show up, they disrupt the story, and I was bothered by the heavy handed way they pushed Lyric, a non-drinker, to solve her problems with alcohol. And I hated Lyric’s name. (Lyric? Really? For a singer?) However, when all is read and done, Sweet Possession is a satisfying tale of one man’s and one woman’s love… and a sweet one at that.