From the dark mind of Rhyll Biest comes a story about a Teutonic god, a guarded recluse, some dirty pictures, and the spark of curiosity that leads to a dangerous attraction.
When the reclusive Holly Unthanks finds some very naughty photos, both the subject of the photos — a muscular Teutonic god with some serious ink and a knack for knots — and the way he’s tied his lady friend to his four-poster bed, make her more than a little curious.
But to get to know the big, built stonemason better, Holly will have to overcome his vengeful ex and her own inhibitions...and pray that the walls she’s built around her guarded heart, as well as her dark secret, remain safe from a man who has a way with stone.
Holly finds a lost iPad and searches through its contents for hints of its owner. Instead she finds some sexy-as photos and some secret desires she hasn’t considered before. When she contacts Stein, the subject of the photos, he’s as imposing as she expected and willing to explore some of those desires with her.
You know when you're having one of those weeks when the only thing you're looking forward to is getting to bed and curling up with your book? And that book is the only thing making getting through the week seem possible? Well recently I had one of those weeks, and this was the book that pulled me through. Sometimes when I love a book, I'll read it in a single sitting, sculling it greedily until there's not a drop left. Other times, I'll get a book that I need to savor, rationing that first time through with tiny sips. This was the latter kind. The sort of book that I couldn’t rush. I read it once through, drawing it out over a full week, and then, when it was done, I had to read it once more - THIS time in a single sitting.
Rhyll Biest’s narrative is smart and witty, and had me hooked from the first line. Contrary to what you might imagine given my prolonged read, the pacing in Unrestrained is exceptional – don’t expect any lull to breathe during this emotional roller coaster. It’s fast moving with a perfect balance between scenes that are sexy, humorous, romantic, heartbreaking and even a little horrifying.
The characters are beautifully written. I didn’t always love Holly as a character (I sometimes wished she was a little more honest), but I always understood her and empathized with her in a way that was almost confronting. She’s very damaged, but she’s also looking for control in her life. And with Stein she finds that release and a little submission might be the best way to experience that control.
Stein is just to die for. Like Holly, he has some trouble opening up, but oh, who even cares? He’s this quietly blunt, caring, sexy, stonemason, who can cook. He’s pretty much the pin-up boy for the perfect book-boyfriend.
Both Holly and Stein are scarred physically and emotionally. And their story is dark. Very dark. They have both been through extreme trauma and suffer PTSD, but not in that PTSD-trope-y way I feel like I read a lot of lately. There’s none of the troubling carer-victim dichotomy (though it does seem like it’s going to go this way at the start). Instead they are two pretty equally messed up people trying to get to grips with life, together. I also really appreciated the unusual honesty that no, actually, PTSD can’t be healed by falling in love (shocking, I know), but that Holly and Stein can support each other in finding help.
Even with the darkness, there are so many sweet aspects to Holly and Stein’s romance. I love that Holly loves her regency novels and I love even more that she keeps catching Stein reading them.
Given the title and the nature of the photos that Holly discovers, I expected the sex scenes between her and Stein to include a lot more bondage. Instead, the focus is much more on role playing. The sex scenes are (for the most part) the lightest scenes of this novel, which otherwise has some incredibly dark overtones. It’s Stein and Holly’s physical connection that often gives emotional reprieve to the trauma of the rest of the story. Some of their role playing had me literally laughing out loud, but at the same time it’s as hot as hell! Amazing. Though it isn’t the focus I expected, there is some light bondage, including one scene in the kitchen which… omg… I’ll never think about doing the dishes in the same way again.
There are a couple of things that bothered me about this story: I found some of the language used to describe Stein’s stalky ex a little problematic – Holly’s references to her as, for example, “Miss Loony Tunes” bothered me a bit and seemed a little odd considering Holly has her own mental health problems. I was also a little thrown by the descriptions of Holly’s bits and pieces. The erotic terminology ranges all the way from the more euphemistic ‘sheath’ to more explicit ‘cunt’ and I felt like the book was having some kind of vjj-identity-crisis. But despite these points, and to be totally explicit, Unrestrained is fucking fantastic!
This is one of the funniest, smartest and sexiest erotic romances I’ve read. Unrestrained has a balance of emotional intensity, humor, and heat that is rare and incredibly special.
This is the first book I’ve read by Rhyll Biest, but it won’t be the last.
Unrestrained by Rhyll Biest is an erotic romance, released by Escape Publishing on November 8, 2014.
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