Note: this review applies to all three parts of the trilogy and may contain spoilers.
RK Lilley is definitely one of my best discoveries in 2013, after reading Up in The Air 1-3, I immediately started on Tristan and Danika's story and even bought Lana, another spin off in the Up in The Air setting. LOL. I take it that the trilogy uses the same formula as Shades of Grey which I still haven't read, but honestly, I don't really care. My enjoyment factor was soaring, something I don't take for granted and which I find even more impressing, as it applies to all three books of the trilogy.
While reading, I often had to think of the hero of the This Man trilogy by Malpas. I discontinued that novel because the hero was too crazy for my tastes, having the attitude of a stalker and showing me little to no true affection for the heroine. James Cavendish, the hero of Up In The Air, was the complete opposite. Yes, he is very possessive and protective of Bianca, but his every action shows his love and reference for her, his wish to protect Bianca from her father who years ago killed her mother. James is manipulative and domineering, but ultimately, he also is also a gentleman and very generous with his money and affection for the people he cares for.
Bianca is a great heroine. She’s flawed and strong and a true fighter who survived living in the streets. She put a lot of effort into her education, thereby working her way up in life. Despite witnessing her mother’s murder, she tries to move on and to learn how to be happy. I absolutely loved the portrayal of her friendship with Stephan. She and Stephan met on the street when they were still teenagers. They were their sole anchors, giving each other everything that they didn’t get from their respective families. Also, kudos to the author of how James integrates Stephan into his and Bianca’s life. Instinctively realising that Bianca would never be able to be completely happy without him. They are both integral to each other’s well being, having only survived because of their mutual, platonic love.
I imagine that for some readers the BDSM part of the story may be a problem. James's youth was very traumatic and as an outlet to deal with it he turned to BDSM at the age of 18, discovering his penchant for inflicting erotic pain. Bianca is the masochistic counterpart, she uses James’s pain to relieve her past and to grow strong. Personally, I believe that no matter what inclinations I have, be they sexual or not, they don’t just drop down from heaven. There’s a reason why I enjoy inflicting or receiving sexual pain, the same as there is a reason, when someone is, for example, claustrophobic. I liked the way how Lilley combined Bianca and James’s sexual inclination with their past. Both don’t perceive themselves as victims, but they use the sex to grow stronger and to get control of their lives which I find admirable.
I didn’t like the whole paparazzi plot all that much, though it’s integral to the outer conflict of the story. I don’t find being pursued by photographers all that alluring, one reason why I avoid reading Hollywood and musician stories diligently.
All in all I am strongly tempted to immediately start rereading the series, so much did I love it. A-