Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Heath is still recovering from the emotional trauma of a scene gone wrong with a Dom who didn’t take care of him the way he should have. Now, months later, Heath still can’t bring himself to be with another Dom, and vanilla sex does nothing for him. Heath desperately wants to get back the submission he craves, but he hasn’t been able to find a way to trust someone again.

When he meets Beau, Heath is wary, particularly as Beau is one of his college students. But in addition to the fierce attraction between them, Beau is also committed to helping Health find his way back to submission. Beau is strong and confident and everything Heath could want in a Dom, while also being careful to respect Heath’s limits as they build trust between them.

Soon, Heath is finding himself again, and regaining his happiness with Beau. The men are in love and seem to both have exactly what they are looking for in each other. But when Beau has his own crisis of confidence, it will be Heath’s turn to be there for his man and find a way to help Beau realize that he is the perfect partner for Heath.

Unfettered is a lovely story that is intense, sexy, and super kinky, with a really deep emotional resonance. Heath is still traumatized from a scene gone wrong; it is made even worse as it was someone he trusted to take care of him and now Heath just can’t regain that trust with a new partner. But at the same time, he needs that submission desperately and it is tearing him apart. I loved watching how Beau slowly helps Heath find his way again. It’s so rewarding to see Heath finally come back to himself and find that happiness again with Beau. I also appreciated that there isn’t a simple fix here; it takes work on both their parts to help Heath sort through it all. And while I think some counseling probably wouldn’t have gone amiss, it was good to see that things aren’t all solved by some great sex, but took real work from both of them.

There is an interesting twist here as Beau encounters a situation that causes his own insecurities, and it is a nice chance for some role reversal as Heath has to be the one to help his partner regain his confidence. It really highlights that while Beau may be the dominant one, these guys are true partners and Heath has the strength to be there for Beau.

There is an intensity here, not just to the kinky side, but also emotionally, that gave this story lots of richness. One of the issues the book explores is what happens when someone you think you know, someone who is a positive part of your life, suddenly turns out to have a whole other side. I don’t want to get into too much detail here for fear of spoiling, but this idea is explored really well and the emotional impact comes through nicely in the story (and Hawthorne relates her own experiences with a similar situation at the end of the book that really resonates).

In addition to this main plot line, there is a side element here regarding Beau and his five half brothers. The brothers were raised by Beau’s father, having no idea Beau existed until their father died (nor did he know about them). The men are taking small steps toward establishing a relationship and there are some nice moments as they spend a holiday together. But I will say that this portion felt a little disjointed and not quite as integrated into the rest of the story as I would have liked. Beau does talk on the phone to one of the brothers at times throughout the book (mostly to discuss how they want Beau to come for Christmas) and, as I said, there is a nice holiday scene. But I am not sure this side story really blended into the main plot as well as it could have, versus feeling somewhat tacked on.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. If you are here for the sexy kink Hawthorne writes so well, I think you will find a lot to love. But if you are looking for a warm story with a lot of intensity and emotion, this book has that as well. I definitely enjoyed it.