REVIEW: Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill
Generally speaking, I think that you write some of the most consistent and interesting D/s erotic romance in the genre today. I find your books equitably balance discipline and emotional connection while going deeper than a little Friday night spanking to get “wild”. Unrestrained is perfect example of that balance.
Athena Summers is a businesswoman, a wife and a Domme. She spent years acting as Mistress to her husband, Ray, who recently died. While he was alive, she and Ray spent quite a bit of time at Club Release, a private club where Athena became quite renowned for her creative and artful sessions. But after Ray’s death, Athena rarely goes to Club Release and has little desire to re-engage in the Life. Despite that, she decides to go to the club to see if she can reawaken her desire. She decides she’ll just watch while she’s there. It is there that she encounters MC, the Master Craftsman. A Dom so creative, so talented that Submissives are desperate for even one session with him. She watches, intrigued as he takes a sub through a session. She’s amazed at how easily she’s able to picture herself experiencing what the sub is, and how excited that actually makes her. But of course, she’s a Domme herself, so it would be ridiculous to even entertain the idea. She leaves the club, which is in a seedier side of town, and stops for gas. While there, she is jumped by two muggers. She’s enraged when they try to steal her wedding rings, and won’t give them up. She’s quite certain they are going to kill her, but she refuses to give up this tangible connection to Ray. Suddenly the attackers are pulled from her. Her savior is of course, MC. He introduces himself as Dale Rousseau, and tells her that he was aware that she was watching his session very closely. He wonders if she might want something from him. She denies it, but still agrees to meet him for lunch to discuss further. As Dale comes into her home, she realizes that she might be far more interested in subbing for him than she thought. His direct nature, and pure artistry as a Dom allow her to do nothing but be truthful about her desires. Soon they are embarking on a D/s journey that neither expect.
Oh I loved this book! First, it’s got a ton of angsty goodness. Athena genuinely and completely loved her husband. She misses him terribly and really believes she’ll never find love again. She’s this wonderfully together heroine, a businesswoman, smart, engaging and warmhearted. Dale is a former Navy SEAL with his own demons. He’s tough, no nonsense and matter of fact. He’s also a creative and interesting Dom. He sees that Athena is submissive from the moment he meets her, and is willing to help her change her mindset, which has always been to act as a Domme to that of a submissive. He understands immediately that her Domme mindset was because that is what her husband, Ray, needed. And at her core, Athena is a “giver”, she only wants to please those she loves. And Dale helps her understand that her submission is far more fulfilling for her than being a Domme was. And he does it all the while respecting the deep well of love that Athena had for Ray.
The book is fully about two grown-up people on a grown-up journey of discovery. Athena about her submission, Dale, about opening himself to possibilities and perhaps losing a tiny bit of the tight rein he holds on himself. The sexual scenes are beautifully crafted and grow in intensity as the relationship between the characters deepens. If I had an twinges at all, it’s that the book runs a bit long. I think that the story could have been tightened up a bit towards the inevitable ending of the two going back to Club Release with Athena as Dale’s submissive. Either way, it’s a truly lovely book with so many elements to recommend it. If you’re looking for an angsty D/s romance with plenty of heat and a really satisfying emotional journey, I think that Unrestrained fits the bill perfectly. Final grade: B+