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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Songbird by Maya Banks

Songbird by Maya Banks
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (103 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Gillyflower

The voice of an angel, a husband who loved her -- she had it all…until a tragedy took it away.

A Linger story.

They called her their Songbird, but she was never theirs. Not in the way she wanted.

The Donovan brothers meant everything to Emily, but rejected by Greer and Taggert, she turned to Sean, the youngest. He married her for love, and she loved him, but she also loved his older brothers.

Her singing launched her to stardom. She had it all. The voice of an angel, a husband who loved her, and the adoration of millions. Until a tragedy took it all away.

Taggert and Greer grieve for their younger brother, but they’re also grieving the loss of Emmy, their songbird. They take her back to Montana, determined to help her heal and show her once and for all they want her. They’re also on a mission to help her find her voice again. Under the protective shield of their love, she begins to blossom… until an old threat resurfaces.

Now the Donovans face a fight for what they once threw away. Only by winning it—and her love—will their songbird fly again.

Warning: Explicit sex, ménage a trois, multiple partners, a committed polyamorous relationship, adult language, and sweet loving.

“Fear. Joy. Sadness. Hope. Love. …” Add steamy intimacy to this line from Songbird and you’ve got the perfect description of Maya Banks’ story. It’s one hell of an amazing and wonderful emotional rollercoaster.

Ms. Banks is a gifted storyteller and you are drawn in from the opening scene—shown, rather than told what is going on, through Emily’s eyes. Indeed, that first five-page chapter sets the stage for the entire story in a totally organic fashion—there is love, loss, a complicated history, complex feelings, running away as a coping mechanism and coming together to heal. It’s all there.

When we meet Emily she is painfully empty and the reason is clear, her beloved husband Sean, a childhood friend, was murdered before her eyes and she blames herself. Glimpses of many different moments from the past are beautifully interwoven with the story of the present as the story unfolds.

Sean’s two surviving brothers find Emily where she is hiding from the world, struggling just to exist, and they bring her home. Ms. Banks gifts us with a heartrending look at what it means to come home. Greer and Taggert love Emily, but they also grieve their lost brother and wrestle with guilt at being with his widow and uncertainty about whether Emily wants them. And Emily does want them, has always wanted them, but she first has to overcome her own sorrow and guilt. Their journey to one another unfolds in a fascinating and heart-wrenching story.

There is a bit of mystery and suspense that keeps the story moving forward nicely. A couple of villains make appearances and Emily’s father is an easy bad guy to hate. Her interaction with him on a trip to town prods her to clear up why she left.

But Songbird is really a love story, and Ms. Banks provides the richest portrayals of roiling feelings. The feelings themselves defy description, so there is no way I could try to describe Ms. Banks’ glorious prose. Better to let her words speak for themselves: “He kissed her like a man starving. He wasn’t gentle, and yet he was. She couldn’t explain it if she wanted. There was such an urgency. He devoured her lips, but there was such love and caring that tears burned her eyelids.” Really, does it get any better than that?

There were a couple of point of view shifts in the middle of one or two key scenes, but the shifts actually worked. In one, the characters are in that groggy state between sleep and wake, and in the other they are in the middle of an intense conversation about exactly what it would be like for the three of them to make a life – a family – together. Emily, Greer and Taggert go on an incredible journey in this story, so the POV shifts did not detract and could even have been intentional.
Songbird has it all. It is a classic story of grief, sorrow and coping—together and alone—with a deep healing theme, as only Maya Banks can tell it. This means there is also plenty of steamy heat and a nice bit of suspense, all wrapped up in a beautiful package. I would go and buy Ms. Banks’ backlist after reading this story, but Ms. Banks is already an auto-buy for me and I own everything she has ever written. If you don’t, why don’t you? Start with Songbird, but be prepared, you’ll stay up all night reading it and you’ll need plenty of tissues!

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