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Reading is like breathing...

I'm an avid reader and reviewer of romance books, especially m-m and erotica. You can find me on http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4669232-baba-marcus-tyler-tate-dan-ty-hunter 

Unrestrained - Joey W. Hill

4.5 intense (view spoiler) stars.****Review completed December 8, 2013

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Athena is having a drink and a little chat at the BDSM club Release when an impressive, dark-dressed man catches her eye. Having been a Mistress to her late husband, the thought of going down on her knees for a Master she'd just seen for the first time doesn't startle her that much because deep down in her heart she knows that she isn't a natural Mistress. She loved making her deceased husband happy by being his Mistress and giving him what he wanted and needed. However, she longed to explore the other side of the coin by being a sub herself. When Athena leaves the club and needs to refuel her car, a guy is assaulting her. Lucky her, the mysterious man is not too far away and rescues her. His name is...

"My name is Dale. Dale Rousseau.”
“Rousseau.” She smiled, eyes still closed. The warmth of the car was making her drowsy. Her trembling had stopped. Things were slowing down again, the fog returning. ‘Nothing is less in our power than the heart, and far from commanding, we are forced to obey it’.”
“Intriguing choice. ‘To live is not merely to breathe; it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties—of all those parts of ourselves which give us the feeling of existence’.”
“A Master who knows his Rousseau. Thank you, Dale."

Dale is a former SEAL, gardener, dog trainer and junkyard operator. And let's not forget that he's also an extraordinary and rigorous Master. 

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Dale and Athena are having an insightful conversation and come to an agreement.

He reached down, brushing a finger underneath the wisps of hair across her forehead. “It’s interesting where you ended up, isn’t it? On your knees?”

She tensed, but his tone made it a neutral observation. He wasn’t mocking her. “Does that have anything to do with what you want to ask me?”

“Yes. Maybe.”

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Unrestrained is a beautifully developed story about grief, exploring needs and desires and a second chance at love. I believe that grieving never stops (why, Athena, we are so on the same page). Over time, however, it changes its form and intensity.

“Are you ready for this, Athena?” Dale spoke in a low voice. Not interrupting her memories as much as stepping into the room and taking her hand. Prepared to lead her out of it, back to the present. “Or are you still grieving?”
“I don’t think you ever stop grieving someone you loved for so many years,” she said. “You learn how to make his memories part of your life, how to interweave them into your future, rather than letting them hold you down in the past. That’s what I’m ready to do.”

When you lose a loved one then you have the right to move on because life doesn’t stop either. You have the right to let go of your disguise and seek your own happiness because you don’t need to meet anyone’s expectations except your own. What is it that you truly want? It is all right to be sad and feel lonely or alone. It is all right to take as many months or years you need to work through the worst of your grief. It is all right to be afraid but it is also all right to fall in love again and to lean on someone’s shoulder. Also, it is all right to live out your fantasies, desires and needs. By doing that we don’t tarnish our past as long as we honor the memory of that person we loved and lost. Every action, every relationship gain a certain momentum which you simply can’t control. In fact, isn’t that very positive because sometimes it’s best to let yourself drift in the direction that was meant for you before you were even aware of what would happen? Maybe it’s called fate. In this context I need to get something off my chest. It didn't happen in Unrestrained yet I'd like to express how much I’m getting irritated with human beings who point their finger at grieving people, saying things like ‘Why, she/he only lost her/his partner a few months or a couple years ago and now she/he is in love again so soon?’ There are people in my periphery who act this way. Who are we to judge how much time anyone needs until they want to move on? We have no right to do that. I must confess that I’m pretty emotional as I’m writing this and it’s all Joey’s fault. She brings out the best and worst in me. Reading her books reduces me to an emotional mess. *sniffles*

I LOVED that Roy was such an integral part of Unrestrained. It’s obvious that he was is still very present in Athena’s life. He always will be no matter what. In any event, having been married and in love for twenty years won’t be forgotten only because he isn’t here anymore. Besides, I think that Unrestrained is as much of an (erotic) love story as it is a sign for Athena to move on, to say a final good-bye to Roy and to explore and embrace her submissive tendencies. Athena is an accomplished businesswoman. She is used to being in control and it’s not easy for her to give up the reins.

“You’re self-disciplined and selfless, and being both of those things takes a powerful will,” he observed. “Anyone who doesn’t really understand what a Dom and sub are about, would find it hard to believe you’re not really a Domme. What we are deep inside is often the opposite side of what we show to others. Deciding to reveal that, explore it, brings balance. Are you seeking balance, Athena?”
“Yes.” She looked down at his hand. He’d spread out his other fingers so they rested between hers. Just his fingertips, the curved digits above like a cage holding her hand there, a restraint she willingly accepted.

It was amazing to see how she struggled and brought her choices into question. She had such a hard time of letting go of one relationship and move into another, different one. Nothing is ever black and white, after all, and there are so many shades of grey in between. In the end, however, when all the shields are down it's about trust and taking the final step over the edge. And knowing there will be someone waiting who will catch you with strong and steady arms. What I really could rely on was the fact that she wasn’t in the game for something casual. And while Athena wanted to explore her needs, their relationship showed that you can’t exclude emotions. Only a couple of detached sessions weren't in the cards for her, not by long shot ---> talk about a situation gaining its momentum.

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"Too fast?" she asked. Had he read her mind, or did he share her concerns?
"Can't tell. It moves like it moves. The trick is to make the in-between time quick, but draw out every moment like this"--he leaned down, kissed her again, proving the point by keeping the kiss going long enough she was breathless when he was done--"so it feels like the kind of forever you want. Then you have no regrets."

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Dale is a very charismatic hero. He has a firm hand, a stern mouth, a sharp mind and he's very possessive and doesn't like to share his woman. He's a man’s man who exudes a commanding presence and sex appeal as all get out. In fact, Dale is an absolute sight for sore eyes. He truly enjoys to “punish” as much as he likes to soothe. Boy, Dale can dish out an incredibly mean spanking that made me cringe now and then. Yet he throws so much perception, understanding, humor, empathy and tenderness into the mix that you simply can’t resist that man. While I'm writing this I’m still salivating and swooning over him. I really, really did appreciate that Dale was physically (view spoiler) and I loved to see how vulnerable he felt of being exposed. Silly man, don't you dare do that to yourself. I get it, he is a proud man and dealing (view spoiler) isn't easy. Yet it's an integral part of Dale but also one that doesn't define him. It goes without saying that Joey writes the absolute best and most insightful and scrumptious BDSM heroes. Ever.

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The link to a song:

(view spoiler)

Minor quibbles
I really must be honest here, the endearment girl did not work for me. At. All. I don't see the forty-six-year-old successful, sexy and mature business woman as a girl. However, I loved it when Dale called her woman. Also, I downright melted when she was his sweetheart and Athena worked just fine for me as well.

I could have done without the (view spoiler) That was actually my biggest issue of the entire story.

Now let me say something about Dale that really bugged me. The man is so incredibly stubborn when it comes to (view spoiler) Athena wanting to take care of him doesn't equate to (view spoiler) for Pete's sake! Only at the end of the story did he relent a little bit because what she said to him made him think. Also, while I honestly hoped he would (view spoiler) I knew that was simply wishful thinking. I seriously doubt that he will ever do such a thing. Well, maybe in another lifetime…who knows?

And last but not least I would have loved to read an epilogue because seeing them a few months down the road would have been the icing on the cake.

Now back to the good stuff
What I also liked very much was that palpable balance that went through the entire story like a golden thread: intensity interchanged with calmness. The rigorous and stirring BDSM play did alternate with calmer interludes. I liked that Dale and Athena shared more than sex. They spent time together, they dated, they watched movies, and they had a good time with a bunch of kids. Make no mistake though, this is a difficult, emotionally intense ride and the BDSM elements are very strong. Yet I experienced enough situations that helped to steady and balance me. 

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I guess it says a lot about me that my favorite scenes were those where they had vanilla sex. Their shared intimacy during those moments meant so much to me. And of course I LOVED their passionate and sensual kisses. It's confession time, right? I actually read and love Joey's books because of her evocative and truly splendid writing. Her books provide so much depth and I feel a strong emotional connection to the characters that I can't help and fall in love with them over and over again. I honestly don't read her stories for the sake of the BDSM elements. Besides, some of the scenes in Joey's books are clearly too much for my humble vanilla nature. I know that Joey won't be offended when I say that I highly disliked Ben in Hostile Takeover. We are all entitled to our opinion and preferences, after all.

I share my absolute favorite scene of the entire book together with the author. I'm so glad we feel the same way about this particular scene. However, I can't write down the entire scene because it's several pages long. Suffice it to say it was utterly beautiful in its intensity and made me a bit teary eyed. So, when he offered her a special gift and (view spoiler) I was so happy! *butterflies in my belly* BTW, he looks absolutely (view spoiler) *swoon*

(view spoiler)

He gave her one of those deep kisses, soothing her trembling by banding his other arm around her, pushing her to her back, his chest a solid weight against hers.
Those emotions flooded her, increasing the pressure beneath her rib cage, the aching in her throat. She couldn't say it aloud, not trusting it.
I'm falling in love with you. I love you.

Unrestrained shows what a master craftswoman Joey is. It is not for nothing that I consider her the best BDSM author. No other writer leaves me in awe and breathless and in an emotional heap like she does every time I’m reading one of her books. Kudos to Joey who did it again. I guess words fail me to express properly how I feel about her evocative writing. Unrestrained depicts a fierce love story between two special characters. Thoughtful dialogue, a compelling narrative and more than enough titillating sex and love making complement this story.

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Unrestrained contains very explicit sex (incl. oral and anal) and language, toys, bondage, plenty of severe spanking, and a public play scene at the club Release. There is no ménage though. Still, it's not for the faint of heart.

It should be a pane of glass, not a mirror. Love is about seeing one another clearly through everything and accepting each other. (…) It's not a closed circle unless you can give as much as you're given.

This is for you, Dale…
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Recommended read.

Buddy read with my lovely friends Kels, Nicole and Glam. Thank you, ladies! xxx


If you'd like to read my spoilers then check out the GR link below.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/670113087?utm_medium=email&utm_source=rating