Review: Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill


Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill
Berkley (December 3, 2013)

Rating: C+
Heat: Sizzling

Heroine: Athena – Former Domme, Submissive
Hero: Dale – Former SEAL, Dominant





I have been looking forward to Dale’s book since he appeared in Janet and Max's, Willing Sacrifice. There was something about his very alpha male personality, combined with the added emotional vulnerability of being a paraplegic. And the Dale in this book did not disappoint. This ex-SEAL is alpha to the extreme. Dale is sexy and seriously dominant. And quite inventive with his toys and other implements.

Simply, I liked Dale and his way of being a Master. He's a very firm and demanding Dom, who loves to give out punishments, but he's also understanding and patient. (Which is the best kind, right?) I wish I had connected to Athena the way I did Dale, but... I didn't.

The main problem being Athena's age. Forty six isn't my ideal age group. I don't mind reading older than myself, but a widow and closer to my mother’s age was harder for me to relate to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her as a woman and I enjoyed seeing her grow and heal. I also loved that she was a Domme, only to discover that isn’t what she truly needed. It was an interesting dynamic.

One of my other issues was the fact that this was Athena's first relationship since her husband passing away. It made for a very slow pacing. Dale has to handle her with kid gloves, which I understand completely, it just slowed things down. A lot. That combined with the first few chapters, which felt like BDSM 101, made the beginning of the book feel drawn out.

Unrestrained didn't send my insides fluttering like I had expected. And while Dale was everything I had hoped for and more… I didn’t feel a spark between him and Athena. But Joey is, as always, a Mistress of her craft. She writes authentic BDSM romances with so much heart and emotion in them. I love that each couple she writes, each Dom or sub, is unique. They all show a different facet of BDSM. Unfortunately, this duo didn't work for me personally. I think there are many it will work for though.


  1. Letitia, thanks so much for the honest, thoughtful review. I'm sorry Dale and Athena weren't your favorite couple - I always like to give my readers a great journey! I had a discussion with an editor friend about a month ago where she mentioned the possible problem of alienating my younger readers with the older age factor in this book, but of course my muse always likes to jump around. Fortunately I have plenty of younger heroes and heroines as well (grin). Thank you so much for giving them a fair, critical look. That's always very helpful to me as an author! And thanks for having me on RBA today!

    1. Aw, Joey! It was hard for me to even write this review. I felt so ageist. I do really appreciate that each couple is unique. All different ages, backgrounds, personalities. It's never the same book twice. But it was hard for me to relate to Athena for that reason. Though when I reread it in a few more years - my opinion might change!

      Of course, I would love another younger woman/older man ala Ben and Marcie.... Oh, that man melts my butter! <3 I can't wait to see what you write next, either way!

    2. Letitia, the one thing I like so much about pleasure reading is there's absolutely no judgment to it - we can choose what we like to read without apology, and immerse ourselves in an escape that meshes with everything we need when we jump into the pages of a book. For instance, there are plenty of books people have raved to me about, and when I read them, I go "meh" because either the hero or heroine have character traits I don't find personally appealing or the setting is one that doesn't interest me. Doesn't mean it's not a great book to those other readers - just not my cup of tea. Which is why we have such an AWESOME hugely diverse reading selection out there. I wouldn't have it any other way.

      And I've watched my own reading change with my age. The things I loved when I was twenty might get a "hmm" from me now, whereas things I just didn't "get" when I was twenty would captivate me now. It means our reading selection will evolve as we grow and change, another wonderful promise for future reads (wink). So don't feel ageist at all.


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