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Friday, December 13, 2013

Unrestrained by Joey W Hill, A review, guest post, and excerpt!

Title: Unrestained
Series: no
Author: Joey W Hill
Published: December 3, 2013 - Berkley Trade
Format: Print copy provided by Berkley (Thank you!!!!)

Athena is an accomplished businesswoman in control of every aspect of her life. But since the death of her husband, she’s had the desire to explore submissive cravings she’s had for some time. Unfortunately, Athena is known as a Mistress, because that’s the role she’s always played.

Her type A personality was strong enough to serve her husband as a Domme because that’s what he needed. It’s not until she meets Dale, a retired Navy SEAL, that she attempts to discover what her own submissive desires are. But letting go of her control is not so easy.

Fortunately, Dale is an accomplished Master who can help Athena live out her fantasies. And as she slowly surrenders to his touch, both of them will learn more about the nature of love between Dominant and submissive, and how it defies all expectations.

This week I had the awesome pleasure of reading an author I hadn’t yet read before. Joey W Hill wrote Unrestrained, and it was really a fabulous book.

Athena is the heroine. She’s a widow in her forties, a business woman, and until her husband’s passing, a Domme. Lately she has had submissive feelings, and luckily she meets Dale, who she can explore those with. I liked Athena overall. I really loved having an older heroine to read about, rather than someone who is in their early twenties. There were times when I just had enough with Athena’s insecurities, but the overall picture of her wouldn’t be complete without those insecurities. It’s funny, Athena is such a strong name, it just evokes strength. Athena in the book was really stronger than she gave herself credit for. The woman lost her husband after twenty years, and was starting over with love.  It is definitely not an easy road that she's got ahead.

Dale is a Dom who is relatively new to the BDSM club that Athena and her husband attended. He’s a retired SEAL. He is also in his forties, and that was wildly appealing to me. Yes, I love them young men with their chiseled bodies and shit-eating grins, but there is definitely something very good to be said for an older man who has been around the block a time or two, and knows who he is beyond the shadow of a doubt. And that is just how Dale is. He is a magnificent Dom, sensing and knowing Athena’s needs well before she even realizes what those needs are. He’s a punisher when he needs to be, and when he needs to be loving, the man is all heart. I think any woman that reads this book will swoon for this man, and ultimately be insanely jealous (and happy for, at the same time) of Athena.

This book was really fantastic, I’m not even sure where to start. Most of it takes place at either Athena’s house or Dale’s, with bits and pieces here and there. Everything about Athena and Dale is opposite from each other, but when they comes together it is perfection. This is an erotic BDSM romance, so of course there are sex scenes in this book that would peel the paint from the walls. It is really that sensual and hot! But there are so many other scenes that are just touching or heartbreaking, you feel like you aren’t just there with Athena and Dale, but rather, that you are Athena and Dale. Ms. Hill totally transports you into their life and definitely bares them open to you.

“I’m sorry. I know you think I’ve lost my mind. I’m not – “

“Shut up.”

She shut up, pressing her face into his shirt, her shoulders quicering against the strength of his arms around her.

“Shh. Easy girl. Shh.”

“I wasn’t trying to be adversarial. I – “

“The last thing you are is my enemy, girl. I’d cut out my tongue if I could take back anything I said that made you think that.” He muttered a curse, brought her closer. “Damn it. Fuck. Just… be quiet a moment. Let’s both breathe.”

Joey W Hill creates such a special relationship for Athena and Dale. It is a slow build to what feels like real true love, not lust disguised with a wedding band. They are there for each other in every sense of the word, and each milestone their relationship passes feels as good as conquering a mountain. Singularly these characters are pretty awesome, but when they are together they create this wonderful feeling that carries and resonates through the entire book. They have hurdles to overcome, but their love is based completely on emotion and honesty. The truthfulness in which they fall for each other is beautiful.

So, like I said. This was my first book from Joey W Hill. It definitely isn’t my last. I am instantly a fan, and I think I need to scour through my kindle to see what else I have from her. I would love to hear suggestions from you, if you have a favorite book from her. But guess what, I have more to this post. Joey wrote a bit of a guest post to go with some excerpts she picked out. I read it, it’s pretty amazing. So I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you get to read Unrestrained soon. I’d love to hear what you thought of it – and what you think of the parts I’m leaving out of it!


The Hook Is Not Enough…
Joey W Hill

Authors are always very conscious of those first few paragraphs of a story, what we like to call “the hook”. While every BDSM story I write draws in certain ways upon my own psychology as a submissive, I was able to put a personal experience into the hook that opens Dale and Athena’s story, Unrestrained. I’m going to give you the first little tidbit, and then explain, then give you more (because more is better, just like they say in the commercials – grin).

The first time Athena stepped into a BDSM club, it felt like home. Surprised wasn’t the right word for her reaction. Surprise was what one felt toward a party thrown in one’s honor, planned on the sly by someone else. When she stepped into that dim environment, inhaled the intangible layers of want and need intertwined with the surface scents of tears and sweat, perfume and leather, her unconscious revealed the secret it had kept for so long. This was where she belonged. It rose up into her chest, an unexpected comfort and validation. Ironic, given that she hadn’t been there for herself. Not essentially.

Roy had talked her into giving it a try. He wanted to take the play they did in the privacy of their home into a discreet but more populated world. It had mattered to him, so she’d prepared herself to accept it, no matter how sordid it might end up being.

Everyone knew New Orleans had a seedy side. No one bothered to call it an “underside,” since it was broadly displayed in the French Quarter at all hours of the day, and it had worsened since Katrina, when more of the city’s criminal element shifted into that section. But then she found there was an actual underworld, and the darkness there was heated, welcoming. Not seedy at all. The perspiration gleaming on marked skin, the cries of pleasure and pain, the glitter of eyes in the dim light, the energy that pulsed in Club Release like its own power source . . . it reminded her of what she’d felt in some of the old churches in the city.

I started writing BDSM erotic romance back in 2000—by accident. I had no knowledge of the BDSM world. I live in a small town and the Internet wasn’t a part of our lives yet.  The unappealing caricatures they often use to mock BDSM on TV had never caught my attention. However, the signs were there if I’d known what to notice. For years I worked as a secretary because I was happiest when I was helping others shine.  I loved my 80s bodice ripper novels and any movie or TV show with heroes who demonstrated thinly masked Dominant traits (in some of those bodice rippers, there was virtually no mask at all – lol). I devoured 9 ½ Weeks despite its regrettable quick retreat from portraying BDSM as a healthy sexual lifestyle. So when I started my first erotic romance, Make Her Dreams Come True, what was going to be a spicy romance turned into a Dominant/submissive relationship, complete with commands, restraints and spankings. I’d unlocked a submissive/service part of myself that had always been there, just waiting.

For the next ten plus years, I wrote D/s romance and loved exploring all permutations of it for both personal and professional interest. As I wrote books, I made contacts in the lifestyle and did more direct research on mechanics, but I’ve always relied on my innate understanding of the D/s psychology to guide my stories, with good results. Until 2010/2011, however, I’d never stepped foot in an actual BDSM club. Thanks to the wonderful Kallypso Masters who organized a field trip for interested authors at an author-reader conference in Chicago, I finally had the chance to do so.

So, long story short, when I wrote that opening paragraph above for Athena, I was pulling right from my own memory. It did feel like home.

Now, you can have a great hook, but the book has to move you pretty quickly into a compelling reason to stay past the opening. For me, the key to that is giving you characters with whom you want to spend time. Athena drew me in with her deep love for her late husband, Roy. This part picks up right after the above, continuing the thought about New Orleans’ churches…

That connection [between churches and club] had come much later, when Roy got sick. Occasionally there would be things at the company she had to handle in person, so she’d leave him with his nurse for the bare minimum time necessary. One day, on the way back home, she obeyed an impulse driven by simple weariness of spirit and allowed herself a fifteen-minute detour into a small Catholic church. It had a trio of archways beckoning the faithful, and the smell of stone and wood over a hundred years old. She’d sat in the sanctuary, stilling her mind, letting everything go for those precious few moments. She realized the ambiance that compelled hushed voices, a still soul, was like what she felt in the club. There was also euphoria, a contained joy, the best kind to feel. Things always felt more intense when restrained. She’d seen it in how Roy reacted to it, though she’d never experienced it firsthand.

Though she didn’t share why she’d stopped at the church, not wanting him to worry about her, she’d shared that comparison with Roy. He smiled at her, nodded, his eyes still bright in the gaunt face. They remained bright until the last few days, when he slipped into that pre-death, morphine coma so common to cancer patients. At the end, she’d whispered in his ear, commanded him to let go. She told him that she’d be all right, that his Mistress would always love him. He would like her putting it in those terms, she knew. So his Mistress let him go, even as his wife sat at his bedside, clutching his hand, the loneliness closing around her when his breath stopped and he obeyed her.

When I did a research trip to New Orleans, I sat in one of those churches. Again, that personal touch contributed to bringing Athena’s journey to life. I’ve always liked to explore the topics of loss and love, sex and healing, and Unrestrained has all of these features. As well as a really hot hero. You were wondering when I’d get to him, hmm? Dale Rousseau is a retired Navy SEAL and through-and-through Dominant. When Athena realizes she wants to explore submissive cravings she’s always had, Dale is the one who understands that Athena served her husband as a Mistress because that was what he needed. In short, she was and is a deeply service-oriented sub. One he wants to help embrace her sexual identity fully, even as he falls in love with her.

I know I’ve given you somewhat of a poignant excerpt, but if you’d like the sexier side of Dale and Athena (wink), you can read the blurb and entire first chapter here (or click the link in author info below). You’ll get to share Athena’s reaction when she sees Dale at the BDSM club they both frequent. Hope you enjoy their story!

Author Website:
Twitter: @JoeyWHill



  1. What a great post Liz! I loved what the author had to say, it was a very honest and informative guest post! Excellent team work both of you :)

  2. Thanks Adriana! I appreciate you stopping by and checking it out! :)

  3. Awesome post ladies... I freakin love the cover!!! Every girl wants shoes like that... and maybe tied up too!!

  4. Liz, what a marvelous review to start my day. Thank you SO much! It also thrills me to hear you're new to me and this book is encouraging you to look at more of my work. I hope each book you choose gives you as lovely a journey as you had with Dale and Athena. And thank you for the kind comments about my post.

    I'll be interested to hear what readers think your next book should be as well (wink). I can give some thoughts on that, but I've found the readers are even better than I am when it comes to recommending. I'm the writer - I have no perspective! (lol)

    I hate that I'm going to be away from the computer for a chunk of today - I'll be heading out shortly, but I will be back early this evening and plan to come back and answer any comments, questions or anything else anyone needs from me. Until then, thank you for letting me start my day with this glow!

  5. Hey Joey, thanks for stopping by!! :) Athena and Dale were terrific, I thought they complimented each other perfectly - but it was very hard to write a review without some major spoilers ;) I'm secretly hoping you decide to write something more with them in the future, I'd love to see how they progress along.

    Have a great day out - I hope you don't get hit by snow, like we are supposed to here in MI.

  6. I once owned some red stiletto boots. *sigh* Definitely something about red that can make you feel good!! Thanks for checking it out, Naomi!!

  7. Awesome post! For the written word to work for me, and to put me
    right there, it has to feel real and honest, and going by this interview
    I totally feel that that's the case with Ms. Hill's novels. I have not
    yet read or listened (yes!! some of her novels are on audio now..Yay!)
    to any of her work, but you can be sure I'm now looking forward to
    enjoying her books.Thanks! Great interview :)

  8. Awesome guest post and review! This definitely peeks my curiosity, since she's going from dom to submissive.

  9. DaVinciKittie @ GraveTellsDecember 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    I love how the review and the guest piece are all together in one post. Liz, if you like paranormals, you absolutely must read Joey's Vampire Queen series, starting with The Vampire Queen's Servant. That series is one of my top 10 fave series of all time. The Knights of the Boardroom series, where these characters spun out from, is also fab and you can't go wrong there if you want something contemporary.

    @Joey: *wave* Keep the awesome work coming! We <3 you! And thank you for being willing to do guest stops on blogs. It's a real treat for us!

    Great work, Liz & Joey!

  10. Fantastic post from the review to guest post.

  11. Kim, glad you enjoyed it. :> Thanks for stopping by!

  12. DVK, hey girl!! So glad to see you here. I loved how Liz integrated this together as well. That's the first time I think I've seen it done that way and think it works very well. And thank you for the great endorsement of my vampires and knights. Oh, and as a side note to folks - if you end up reading some of these, first off, THANK YOU! Lol - second, on the fan forum you will find a BUNCH of free novella and short vignette downloads under the vignette section. I love to revisit my characters and bring you along with me. Forum access info is noted on the fan forum link above beneath the post.
    And it's my pleasure to do guest stops on the blogs. I'm only sorry I couldn't have been here throughout the day like I normally try to do. Real life can sometimes interfere with the best laid plans, though I admit what was on the schedule today was a Christmas shopping excursion I'd scheduled with a good friend some time ago, and if we'd moved it from today, it just wasn't going to happen before Christmas. So it was a nice time!

  13. Christy, hope you like it! The story idea was actually spawned from a discussion of all the BAD storylines where a Mistress just up and becomes a submissive when the right Master walks through the door. So I started to think about a storyline where instead of being contrived and an insult to real Mistresses, there was a plausible reason she switched sides. Hope you like the results!

  14. LD, thank you for that lovely comment. When I started getting deeper into writing BDSM, the storylines that most appealed to me are the ones where the characters led "real" lives, with jobs, families and other elements that put their D/s identity in a realistic context. They still have the delightful elements of fantasy we expect from our romances, but I think that offers an emotional realism that makes them stronger stories. At least I hope that's the end result. When you read my books, let me know if they disappoint! I always welcome reader feedback. And thanks also for that mention - yes, the Nature of Desire series, Virtual Reality and the first of the Knights of the Board Room books (Board Resolution) are now available on Audible! Woohoo!

  15. "...they have experienced a little life." Lyssa (my 1000+ year old vampire) says that's the damn truth. Lol - thank you, TK! So glad you came by, and you know I adore Disney. Now I'm imagining Dale and Athena going to Disney. Actually think they'd love doing that together. Hmmm....vignette possibility there - Liz, we may be revisiting Dale and Athena at Disney (laughter). And thank you so much for giving Liz those suggestions about the next book to read. Great suggestions for the holidays. In fact, I'm thinking Submissive Angel is on sale during the month of December (about 25-30% off), and 20% of the proceeds go to charity, so it makes it a nice Christmas indulgence. Though if male/male isn't your thing, Liz (which Submissive Angel is), I agree with Terry about Snow Angel. It's one of my very few published "shorts". Mostly I like writing the long stories (wink).
    TK, thank you so much for those wonderful comments - you're a love!!

  16. Liz thank you for the fabulous review and for hosting me here today. And thank you also for your understanding about my schedule today. I really do prefer being a little more accessible than that, especially if you're being nice enough to let me talk about my books.
    I have a feeling we'll see Dale and Athena again, whether it's in a free vignette (see my note to TK/FS above) or when they show up as secondary characters in someone else's book. TK had some great suggestions for your next books. If you're a contemporary reader, you might also enjoy the Nature of Desire series, where each book explores a bit of a different D/s relationship dynamic, but I know a lot of my contemporary readers love the Knights of the Board Room (they practically have their own fan club - chuckle).
    Hope you guys were able to stay warm today. It was chilly for the southern NC coast at 29 this AM, but it was low 50s and sunny before all was said and done, which made for some good Christmas shopping weather (smile).
    Thanks again! Your review was a GREAT start to my day.

  17. Red stiletto boots...nice! I call those bedroom shoes, because the only place I could wear them was in the bedroom, leaning provocatively against something sturdy so I didn't break my neck! My husband has had to adjust expectations to consider Natural Balance sneakers the height of sexy. Thank goodness the Berkley cover artists didn't go that route with this cover, though. I love how they used the red. Thanks for your comment, Naomi, and for stopping by!

  18. Adria, thank you! I give full credit to Liz - she did a wonderful job of meshing my responses with her interview for a very well integrated and entertaining flow. Made me look pretty darn good, bless her (grin).

  19. Thank you so much, Kim!! Appreciate it :)

  20. lol thanks :) I will definitely check out that series, and Knights of the Boardroom, too! Thank you for stopping by!

  21. Don't sweat it!! I was at work half the day, and I wish I was shopping the other half LOL.

  22. Awesome! I know you are more interested in a Domme than a sub, so I bet reading this would be quite interesting for you. I thought the book was terrific, I think you'd like it no matter what side of the fence you are on :)

  23. Yep, I totally agree. And this book had that in spades. I swear, some parts of this story just broke me in two, and others had me feeling just absolutely buoyant. Definitely a fantastic novel, and I definitely recommend you read - or listen!

  24. I didn't find her insecurities misplaced either, but I definitely wanted her to be happier - as a person. I didn't mean to "just get over it already" or anything like that ;) Joey definitely made me care for Athena, and I think she deserves all the happiness she has coming to her!

    I'll absolutely check out those other books. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  25. nope, I totally read m/m so I will check it out very soon! :)

  26. I read the excerpt as usually it got me teary eyed as your books sometimes do. I have both unrestrained and willing sacrifice on my wish list Amazon.

  27. Tracy, hope you get all the things on your wish list!!

  28. Ah, man, that work stuff can be a pain in the butt. Honestly, it really was so lovely to get out and spend time with this friend. We hadn't spent any time together in months, so it was a good day. Thanks for your understanding!

  29. one! I'm loving the fact the heroine is in her forties...that in itself is a big plus for me. Awesome review Liz & great post. I may have to give this one a go.

  30. lol that's pretty awesome you just stumbled into writing your first BDSM novel. Love hearing how authors start up on their paths :)

  31. You will love it!!! I think I can count on one hand the number of heroine's that were older, that I've read. And it's really sad. I mean, I love the young girls (that sounds weird), but I'm older. It's nice to be able to put myself in their place a bit easier.

  32. Me too! I think you should check out this book, Anna. I really think you'd like it. And I know you love the older men, and I think you will just swoon over this hero. He's hot and sexy, a Dom, and a former SEAL, and well.. all that good stuff that goes with it :)

  33. You are making me want to check out some of her other books, like right now! LOL. thank you so much for stopping by and checking out our post :)

  34. I really do love those older men. *girly swoon* lol I have 3 or 4 of hers already sitting at the house. I really need to pull those out. Have been thinking of setting a new blogging rule for 2014. For every 2 review books read I "have to" read one just for fun from the tbr pile. Might be the only way it ever happens.

  35. Oh, that's a good rule. I might have to adopt something like that, myself. And make sure you schedule time for it too, or else you will put it off and then before you know it, you haven't read a personal pick in a while, ya know?

    I've been taking the ones we've been reading in The Kinkery and not reviewing them, just reading them for pleasure. It's a small step, but still a step!

  36. What a treat! Thank you Liz and Joey.One of the things I so love about Joey's stories is there are more than a few characters who aren't necessarily "young" they have experienced a little life. Or maybe they are just mature for their age. LOL I didn't find Athena's insecurities misplaced at all. Everything in her personal life has been turned upside down every time she turns around. Then to have Dale walk into her life. Talk about fiction meets fantasy in a romance *sighs* This is like Disney for adults!

    Liz you are so right about Joey's stories. Once you read one you will need to read them all. One of the most amazing things about Joey's stories, stand alone or series, is her characters make appearances in different books. It is like introductions to new stories/characters and updates to your favorites. As far as suggestions, where to start! For the holiday season I say "Snow Angel" (yep sign me up for the Christmas party and what comes after) or "Submissive Angel" *smh at the women who didn't take a good look through the store window* But the series that started it all is the Vampire Queen series. Oddly enough I think you could start with any book in this series they are that well written. But if you can start at the beginning *sighs and shivers* Enjoy the Joey Journey!!!


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