Review: Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill

“Anything for you.  I will give you anything.  I will fly for you.”

Southern, Steel Magnolia, Athena Summers is a giver.  An astute businesswoman and faithful wife, she is the type of woman who puts everyone first and herself last.  Athena and her late husband Roy where regular players at the BDSM club, Club Release.  Both wife and Mistress to Roy, Athena never considered being on the receiving end of the whip.  But ever since Roy died of cancer, there has been a hollowness to Unrestrained Joey W. HillAthena that she can’t shake.  Athena no longer participates at Club Release since Roy’s death, but it still provides a comfort and sanctuary to her and the memories they shared.  During her latest visit to the club, Athena witnesses a new Dom (Master Craftsman/MC) in a scene with Willow (a regular submissive at the club) and is mesmerized by not only his powerful body but his commanding presence with Willow.   As Athena witnesses the scene, she not only becomes aroused but begins to imagine being in Willow’s place, experiencing the lash.  She wonders if feeling the physical pain would purge the emotional pain that haunts her.  After the scene, Athena meets the eyes of the Dom and immediately feels bare and vulnerable; as if he reads her need for what she feels is so wrong for her personality. Submission.

When Athena leaves the club she stops for gas at the station across the street.  Two men pull up with the intent to rob her of her money and wedding rings.  Athena refuses and attempts to fight back after they punch her in the face.  Her screams of rage and refusal to give up her rings aggravates her attackers to the point that she believes they will eventually kill her.  Then the men are pulled off her by MC and peel out of the station.  He knows Athena as well as her reputation as Lady Mistress at the club.  MC introduces himself as Dale Rousseau and insists with her injuries and possible concussion that she stay at his place for the night.  Although Athena doesn’t know Dale except through the club, she feels safe with him and agrees to a night in his guestroom.  Dale informs her the next day that he was looking for her in the club parking lot when he saw her being attacked. Being a man of direct words, Dale goes on to tell Athena that the way she looked at him in the club made him believe she wanted something from him and he came to find out what it was.  Athena confides that she does want something from him but would like to think on what that is and offers him lunch at her home on Friday to discuss it further.

“Former military, gardner, dog trainer and junkyard operator.  As well as extraordinary Dom.  A man guaranteed to pique the interest of any intelligent, breathing woman and she fit both those qualifications.”

Christmas came early for me this year when Joey W. Hill sent me an early ARC of Unrestrained.  Ms. Hill is one of the few authors that whenever she has a new book releasing, my immediate response is “gimmie”!  She is one of a handful of authors where I don’t need to read a blurb or see a cover to know that I want to devour it.

Alluring, vulnerable, rich in emotion, Unrestrained is a beautiful story of two characters striving for balance and surrender within the body, soul and mind.  Dale’s personality is truly mesmerizing from the first moment he hits the page.  A retired Navy SEAL, his commanding presence is assertive, confident, sensible yet there is a tenderness to his strength that is both genuine and seductive.  When Dale meets Athena for lunch at her home, he is honest about not only what he believes Athena wants but also what he desires.  He refuses a “professional arrangement”, exposes her desire for submission and tells her how their relationship will be.

“You connected with me, you want something from me.  Same goes.  You’re not a timid woman, Athena, and I’m sure as hell not shy about what I want.  I want to see where this leads.  How about you?”

Dale’s straightforward honesty about a D/s relationship opens Athena’s eyes to what her role as a Mistress was to her husband and what she denied herself in playing that role.

“Because that’s what a true service sub does,” Dale responded.  “She takes pleasure in pleasing others.  Her Master, all those in her life.  A Master takes pleasure in holding power, a sub in surrendering to it.  The way she surrenders may be mistaken for the flip side of the coin because of what you just described.  You weren’t a Domme to him.  You were a Domme for him.”

Now Athena is seeking a freedom and ownership that she has never experienced and Dale is the man that wants to give it to her.

“Surrendering to him, letting him take them both on the journey he had planned, it was freedom within bondage like she’d never know outside of it.”

What I enjoy most about Ms. Hill’s portrayal of the D/s role in her BDSM themed romances is the relationships are not cookie cutter scenes that so many authors use repeatedly in a series.  The punishment or pleasure is emotional and physically attuned to the Master’s need and desire as much as the subs.  It’s captivating to witness because it’s never the same with each couple. Usually it’s focused on an emotional barrier that needs to be purged from the sub but there is also something the Master learns as well about himself.  For Dale, it’s a matter of pride in dealing with an injured leg from war and while he demands every part of Athena’s submission, he in turn has to learn to trust her care for him and believe Athena when she insists that his legs don’t make the man or Master.

Delivering a compelling storyline of trust with sizzling chemistry and impassioned emotion, fans or first time readers of Joey W. Hill will find a profoundly inspiring story in Unrestrained.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m enough of a guy that I want to show off this gorgeous, smart woman who trusts me enough to let me be her Master.  But more than that, I want your happiness.  I want you to value that as much as you value my needs.  I want you to realize, once and for all, they’re the same thing.”

Rating: A
Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill
December 3rd 2013 by Berkley Trade
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  1. Judi L says

    I just finished Natural Law by Ms. Hill. Definitely steamy and interesting role reversal…hot cop as a sub. I will be checking out more by Joey Hill and this one sounds good!

    • Amy says

      I LOVED Natural Law! Mac is one of my top favorite heroes of Ms. Hill. If you enjoy m/m romance, check out Rough Canvas. Marcus is my other favorite. That book is one of my top favorite reads of 2013. I hope you enjoy Unrestrained!

    • says

      Judi, not to butt in where I’m not invited (grin), but wanted to let you know if you liked Mac and Violet, there’s a free short story about them at the JWH Connection fan forum. It’s called the Baby Shower. I like writing vignettes about all my characters, because it gives me a chance to revisit my characters “off deadline” AND thank my readers for reading my books. If the vignette would be of interest, forum access info is here –

      Thanks for giving my books a try!

  2. says

    Amy, thank you so much for this wonderful review! I was so excited when you told me you loved the book; I couldn’t wait to read this. It was everything I hoped and more. Thanks so much for sharing your reaction to the book. Love the quotes you chose to illustrate their relationship, and of course I’m deeply flattered by your compliment about my overall writing. Hope I’ll always deliver this kind of reading experience for you and all my readers. :>

    • Amy says

      I can truthfully say my reading experience is always richer after I finish one of your books. As I told you, Dale now ranks at the top of my hero list with Marcus and Mac. Looking forward to the next great hero you bring to life on the page! Thanks for stopping by!