by Joey Hill
Berkley | The Penguin Group
December 3, 2013
Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion herein is my own unless it is noted as a quote.
Athena is a widow and an accomplished businesswoman. She’s the type of person who exceeds expectations in business, family–life in general. Since the death of her husband, she’s had a desire to explore submissive cravings she’s had for some time. The hitch is, Athena is known as a Mistress, because that’s the role she played to her husband.
Though she knew her submissive nature was strong enough to serve her husband as a Domme, because that’s what he needed, it’s when she meets Dale, a retired Navy SEAL, that she attempts to discover what her own submissive desires are. But letting go of that control is harder than she expected.
Fortunately, Dale is an accomplished Master who can help her accept the true nature of her submission, rather than how she’s tailored it to meet the expectations of others. But in the course of learning what letting go means, both of them will learn a bit more about the nature of love between Dominant and submissive, and how it defies all categories. Storywitch.com (Joey’s Website)
Oh that sounds catchy doesn’t it, BDSM, Tie you in knots? Ha ha ha hmmm
But really, while Joey’s writing is sexy enough to put KY out of business, I found myself at odds with the punishment the male love interest doles out to his female sub. The word “brutal” is employed at least once in the book and was spoken even more in my head.
But that’s the beauty of Joey’s work: It tantalizes and it’s non-judgmental; but at the same time, it makes me think long and hard about sexuality; can I accept that being beaten as punishment is the road to self actualization or sexual fulfillment? It wouldn’t be my thing. but, is it different from some people using self flagellation to achieve a meditative state?
Once, Joey explained being a submissive or Dominant was, in it’s deeper than handcuffs-from-a-bachelorette-party level. is a sexual orientation. In other words it’s hard wired as any other trait. You can’t put it nor it’s adherents into tidy boxes, any more than you can say all gay men are good at decorating. BDSM is multifaceted — except for B and M each letter in BDSM has two meanings (something I learned at Authors After Dark) Bondage and Discipline/Domination and Submission/Sadism and Masochism.
If I am not into it why is it so damn hot? That’s where I am tying myself up in knots. PLEASE note, I am not saying it is one way or another, good or bad. I am merely trying to understand MY response.
Sometimes I read that the sub really has all the power. But here, at one point Dale takes away her ability to safe-word and doesn’t give her a gesture, then he hits her with his belt I believe until she is able to count all the thwacks without moving. It’s just hard for me to get past marks and bruises as sexually fulfilling. But, I accept different strokes for different folks and all that. And, I have to hand it to Joey for writing it so it’s sexy. In my opinion this is Joey’s most well-written work: it has the most emotive content.
I contend that Joey’s book takes me to the emotional and psychological processes behind the submission of the female character, Athena. She is so strong to recognize her needs and seek out her satisfaction. That’s really something women, and even men, have a hard time with. But having to be punished to submit to someone’s will outside the bedroom, being punished for something to the point of bruising, is so not going to happen at my house. Maybe we all just inflict pain and punishment in different ways. Part of it is that we are taught that words like submissive and slave are not desirable states and that a man should never hit a woman. So when I look at it that way, I think,…, well, I don’t know what I think.
The male love interest, Dale, is a retired SEAL. Because of his personal journey and might have a really good idea of what Athena needs to be true to herself. He’s all the things you would expect in a Dom: Alpha hot, noble,….stubborn. Joey writes that he takes pleasure in Athena’s submission and punishment. Yeah, he gets off on it.
I think it is fantastic that Joey made these characters past the age of “new adult.” I hated that Athena is a widow; losing my husband is my absolute worst fear. I think the degree of conflict a new attraction and relationship poses is interesting and explored really well. While it might seem that the seriousness of the relationship is rapid, I noted that Joey does mention the passage of time that days, weeks or months passed and that the road was not always smooth.
UNRESTRAINED’s plot is more than a story about BDSM; it’s character driven and that can make it feel a bit more slowly paced, but the depth of relationship development makes up for it. A strong point in Joey’s writing is the characters’ internal struggles to overcome some blockage, or handicap and become happier and more fulfilled.
I noted having recently reviewed SOMETHING ABOUT WITCHES, was that the hero, Derek “sounds” a lot like Dale. I am told it isn’t intentional and that the characters do not “sound” the same.
Hot, but also thoughtful, this is a MUST READ read for any person who likes steaming hot erotic prose with enough meat to make you think.
UNRESTRAINED at PENGUIN
Joey’s Website AMAZON B & N