‘Up in the Air’ series by R.K. Lilley
3 Books: In Flight, Mile High & Grounded
Guest Reviewed by Shelly.
Here is your typical, every day, hot, sex on a page, bdsm, erotic romance between a common, poor yet unbelievable beauty who is taken to the realms of exotic orgasm by a devilishly handsome, mysterious, misunderstood, dark and brooding, gorgeous specimen of a dominate alpha male billionaire. Sound anything but common? Well that is true unless you are talking about female reading community. Since the ‘Fifty’ epidemic, the desire to find another series that holds a candle to Christian and Ana is a constant force in the erotic romance literary community. Can I just take a moment before proceeding with this review to tell the woman of the world that, yes while books like that are incredibly hot and delicious, there are other erotic bdsm writers doing other plots that are just as desirous. So, please search them out. Personally, Cherise Sinclair offers an incredible alternative that still offers a bdsm erotic romance; maybe even Kristen Ashley or R L Mathewson, who both offer less D/s relationships but definitely some kinky hot dominate alpha males in a nice erotic romance. Okay, I just wanted to give female readers a heads up, because searching for a remake of one series will eventually lead to a loss of interest.
Anyway, enough of that, on to the review. So, was the series concept original? Nah. Was it basically a spin-off of ‘Fifty’ like so many reviews note? Maybe, somewhat but not entirely. If you like ‘Fifty’ will you like this series? Definitely. Did I like the series despite all my ranting above? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!
To make this a series review and not 3 different individual book reviews, I am going to set this up a little differently; because these books cover a lot of ground. The series really did have an ongoing suspense kind-of plot running throughout all 3 books, along with a torturous and impossible relationship among our hero and heroine. Therefore, it is hard to sum up the whole series into one basic review, without some clear cut format. So here goes:
Book 1: In Flight.
Meet our heroine. She is beautiful, shy, strong, independent and a virgin. She has a past that obviously haunts her. We began to understand that but not fully. She is damaged and as the book progresses she begins to realize that she needs something more to get what she needs from the bedroom:
“I knew James could take me to some dark place, but I would find pleasure there, and I wanted that.”
Cue our hero. Mr Cavendish, Mr Generous, Mr Beautiful, Mr Perverse, Mr Moody, Mr Persistent, Mr Angry, Mr Kinky, Mr Dominant….you get the picture. James is a strong, dominant, sexy as sin, alpha male who, yes, also happens to be a billionaire. But where Mr Grey was brooding and detached, R K Lilley carries Mr Cavendish a step farther. Seriously, there are times where he would down right scare me. Personally, I would RUN from his playroom:
“I know it’s all consensual, but the fact is, I like to hurt women during sex. There’s a reason you fear me. My strongest impulse is to control and to dominate, but make no mistake, I’m a sadist. It doesn’t exactly make me a good guy.”
But R K Lilley makes this work because her series is more than a D/s relationship. Her characters offer more of a Sadist/masochist type of relationship and that is what they need, so you get it:
“Even masochists need lovers. What would a girl like me do without someone like you? Perhaps everyone is good for someone.”
“Yes, you scare me,” I told him, after a very long silence, while I processed his answer. “But I’m irrevocably fucked up, so you excite me in equal measures. I find it liberating, to let someone control me…”
But as crazy and scary the dynamic is, for these two, it is equally sexy and torturous. (Maybe even more so than with E L James’ characters.) Seriously, R K Lilley went that far and then beyond:
“He leaned down to my ear. “I’m going to ruin you,” he breathed. “I’ll be your first, and I’ll fuck you so thoroughly that I’ll be your last too. You won’t want any other man after I’ve gotten my hands on you.”
“Oh, yes. You make me absolutely desperate, Bianca. I had never stalked a woman before I met you. I’m carrying a sliced pair of your panties in my pocket right now.”
“It was hard to remember we weren’t supposed to feel anything for each other when he looked at me like I was more important than his next breath.”
As the book progresses we begin to really understand our characters. They come alive and we bond with them; their pain, their struggles and the fact that two VERY damaged people have somehow found each other, and as much as it works, it also doesn’t. Here in lies the angst of the series. How do two damaged people make a healthy couple? That is what we keep reading to find out. Seriously, I could not stop. I needed to know. How can these two make it work because as F*CKED UP as these two are, you still want them together. Somehow, they make sense. Also, there is that darkness we need to get to the bottom of in both characters and this crazy suspense building to some kind of danger lingering in the air. Ms Lilley ends us with our couple in a not so happy place, but I won’t give you more of a spoiler than this:
“You’re tying me in knots, yet you remain unaffected yourself. Are you just waiting for a reason to end this? That’s the impression I’m getting at the moment. And that drives me f*cking crazy, since I don’t have a clue what will tip the scales against me.” ~James Cavendish
“James is so crazy about you,” Stephan murmured to me quietly. He’s crazy, all right, I thought, but I didn’t comment.
“Life hurts. As long as it doesn’t kill us, we weather it.”
Bring on book 2: Mile High
It’s been around a month or so since our couple has been together when this book begins. I want to start out this book by pointing out that there are SEVERAL awesome supporting characters that are INCREDIBLE throughout this series. I simply love most all the characters. I could see Ms Lilley taking advantage of several spin offs from this series (and it appears she will be doing just that according to goodreads). There are the funny and fun pilots, including one hot pilot who also wants Bianca. There are the additional flight crew members, who are hilarious and so much fun. All of these characters make me laugh multiple times throughout the series.
“Bitch be cray cray.”~Murphy
There are several bad guys and gals that radiate pure evil and disgust; seriously pissing me off at various points in the series! Then there is Stephan. Oh, Stephan. He is incredible. He is delicious. He is WONDERFUL and no he is not the love triangle. He is Bianca’s gay best friend and basically only family. He makes the book so perfect that I can’t even explain their dynamic and do it justice. I can say that, more often than not, Bianca is the more selfish in this best friend dynamic and sometimes she is inconsiderate, which pisses me off; but overall, they have a beautiful and loving relationship that helps Bianca appear more sincere to the reader:
“I love you, Buttercup. You’re my rock. Best thing that ever happened to me,” he whispered. ~Stephan to Bianca
“You were the only good thing in my life, but you were so good that I knew it had all evened out.”~Bianca to Stephan
Now back to our Hero/heroine. This book has a continuation of sexiness for Bianca and James, as they come back together:
“No one else can do this for you, Bianca. Don’t ever even consider it. You were made for me.”
“Don’t look away. I need to see your eyes as you fall to pieces.”~James
“Unless part of my convincing you was that you want to get fucked against the nearest wall, I’d start walking, Buttercup” ~James
I gripped his silky hair in my fists. “I missed you, too. It’s scary just how much. I don’t know how it happened so fast, but you feel like home to me, James.”
“I don’t feel alone with you. I feel like I have a family and a home again. You’re my home. All of the dark shadows seem to disappear when we’re together.”~James
But as the sexiness and loving advances, so does the angst created by these two damage people, who hurt each other almost as much as they love each other:
“He bit me hard enough to make me yelp. “There you go, belittling us again. You must know by now that I’ve never done any of this for anyone else. I was a slut once with my body, but I’ve never been a slut with my heart”…”
“He was the sun, and when he turned away, I felt so cold and empty, so achy, and wanting.”
I felt him sigh against me. “It was. But it didn’t mean anything. Please don’t use her to keep me at a distance”~James
“I wondered how my heart could be both light with happiness and heavy with love at the same time.”~Bianca
So this book progresses us only slightly in the relationship realm, which ends up being frustrating in many parts. It feels like our couple grows a bit by gaining 15 steps, only to lose their ground and tumble back 20 steps. They both build and destroy as they go, and the angst just keeps coming. For some readers, this is good and for others it is just infuriating. We grow some in our understanding of their own individual struggles. The suspense thickens some also. But overall, this book was probably my least favorite. It felt less important than the other 2; but I find that to be common with middle books in most series. They tend to be meant for building up of pressures, emotions and angst more than anything; and that was definitely accomplished here.
Now, finally coming to a close. Book 3: Grounded
It ushers in MORE unveiling, revelations, POVs, depth, angst, love, growth, acceptance, intrigue, horror, damage, blood, chaos, pain, suffering and almost death. I know, how could one book bring so much. Welcome to the conclusion of our series and the point I made earlier about this series offering more than just a ‘Fifty’ rip off, that I could explain away in a short synopsis.
More angst & pain:
“That’s the emptiest feeling, to know that you would hurt someone else just to feel something.”
“You can’t use sex to control me, James. You shouldn’t play with my heart like that.” He laughed. It was sinister. “Oh Love, it’s not your heart I’m playing with. And I’ll play with your body whenever I damn well please.”
“I love you, too, James, but that doesn’t give you a free pass.”
“No, it doesn’t. Being your Dom does that, Love. I’ve compromised far more for you than I’ve ever done for anyone or anything in my life. Controlling you sexually is something I won’t be bending on…”
More raw sex & sexiness:
“I’m going to make you come so many ways that you forget all of the ways that you can find to doubt us.”
“Your body belongs to me, Bianca, no matter the fucking time of the month,”
“How about we call it lovingly fucking your brains out?”
“You may have fucked a lot of women, James, but I’m your first lover.”
More love, acceptance, growth & personal revelations:
“I can never go back from this, Bianca. It would break me to let you go. You know that, right?”
“I’ve been trying to make my head rule my actions, when my heart has so obviously taken over.”~Bianca
“You’re my favorite subject, Love. I’ll start with your eyes. I fell in love with those first. One look was like a punch to the guy. You have these ageless eyes on such a young face. I just knew that you had seen bad things, and from the start, I knew that you could understand pain. Understand feeling hopeless and helpless and alone. I fell in love with your eyes first because I looked into their depths and saw the other half of my soul.”
“I love you. I know I said I needed time, but that was a big fat lie. I fell in love with you more than a year ago, and those feelings never went away, not for me. I was just trying to protect my heart when I told you that I needed more time to fall for you. I’ve been here all along.”~Bianca
“Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for you.
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.”
(more love in all of the relationships):
“I sometimes thought that our fast friendship had been kind of like joining a club, one made up of men that thought that Bianca Karlsson was the most perfect woman on the planet.”
More unveiling, revelations, horror, blood, anguish, damage, chaos, suffering & etc….
“I crawled to her, only distantly noting that hers was not the only body lying in the small backyard.”
“Raw sounds of anguish tore out of me with every movement as I made my way to her.”
“It was as though the sight of him lying there, lifeless, with bloody holes in his chest, had just been circling around in my head while I was out.”
Exact character names for the quotes in the above section were left out on purpose to avoid as many spoilers as possible!
So was this series just your same old run of the mill bdsm erotic romance with a simple ‘Fifty Shades’ knock off? Nope, this series was its own in the end; and surprisingly, quite a pleasurable one! I would give this series, AS A WHOLE, a solid B+ to A- rating.
RATING: somewhere between a B+ to an A-
It is harder to place songs to a whole series vs a book. So, I only have a couple songs to contribute to this series, AS A WHOLE:
“Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon
“Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” by Def Leppard
Hope you guys enjoy this series as much as I did.