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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.

Royhad 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