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BDSM

REVIEW:  Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill

REVIEW: Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill

UnrestrainedDear Ms. 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+

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  The Principle of Desire by Delphine Dryden

REVIEW: The Principle of Desire by Delphine Dryden

desire

Just for fun, a short synopsis, Twitter style.

Control Top @MasterAegis  28d
@Beth28 I’m coming home. Be waiting.

Seriously Switchy @Beth28 27d
Some guys need to learn how to take no for an answer. #subtweet #movingon

Rocket Man @MisterEd 5d
When you offer to be someone’s fake boyfriend and find yourself tied to a whipping post. And it’s fun. #whatthefrak

Seriously Switchy @Beth28 4h
My playlist: Torn between two lovers. Do I stay or do I go now. Breaking up is hard to do. #FML

Dear Ms. Dryden:

From the blurb, I expected the final novella in the “Science of Temptation” BDSM series to have a dominant woman/submissive man set-up, which seemed like a welcome change-up from the previous books.  It didn’t exactly deliver, but went in an equally interesting direction — one that could have used a full novel to do it justice.

Rocket scientist Ed may be smart, but he has no idea that several of his friends and their girlfriends have a secret life. When he uses a tracking app to find the phone he left in Ivan’s car, he discovers that they belong to a members-only club — and so does their very attractive friend Beth, whom he had just met that evening. Beth brings Ed in as a guest, leading other club members to assume he’s her submissive. When Beth’s former Dom — who still thinks he’s current — arrives, Ed offers to play along in exchange for a real date later. The play gets more serious than either intended, and both find themselves enjoying it.

Unlike the previous books in the series, the focus here is less on a newbie being introduced to BDSM than on the journey of  the more experienced partner. After years of being submissive to Aaron, a much older and very controlling man, Beth has been exploring her dominant side. With Ed, Beth discovers that it’s possibly to have kinky fun without specifically constructed roles and rules — to have a playmate, rather than a Master, “someone who was neither top nor bottom, but a fellow adventurer.” And she starts to wonder if Ed could give her the other things she wants out of life.

I enjoyed the originality of Beth’s journey, as well as the unique and authentically geeky Ed, with his “unshaven, unwaxed, non-metrosexual and non-ripped torso.” He’s “softer and furrier” than Beth is used to… and comfortable looking. Love it! Beth and Ed are sweet and playful together, and there’s some banter that had me laughing out loud at times. But I think too much story is stuffed into too small a space here. Not only do things move very fast between Ed and Beth, but Beth spends a significant part of the story thinking more about her ex than about Ed. His hold on her is understandably strong given their history, but, well… this is supposed to be a romance, too. It’s hard to get into sex scenes in which one character is constantly thinking about someone else, and being depressed about it, and the progression of the story only increased my doubts about whether Ed and Beth could wind up together. All of this might have worked beautifully if it were given more room to develop.

Readers who are looking primarily for depictions of the BDSM scene may appreciate this more than I did; they seem respectful and realistic. For readers of the previous books in the series, note that it gets a little further out there than I remember the other books doing: the main characters and those from the previous books all “play” together (apparently non-sexually), which is a little startling if you expect absolute monogamy in your romance. It’s not necessary to have read the previous books before this one, but it is fun to see the characters again, including the inflexible Ivan getting discombobulated as his Venn diagram of geek friends and kinky play friends begins to increasingly overlap.  There’s also a short bonus scene from the point of view of Cami from The Theory of Attraction, for those who want to catch up with her relationship with Ivan.

Ultimately, though I think this is definitely worth reading as erotica, I couldn’t help feeling that it didn’t quite fulfill its contract as a romance. B-

Sincerely,

Willaful

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