Bound (Mastered Series #1)
NAL / February 4, 2014 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital
Former small-town girl Amery Hardwick is living her dream as a graphic designer in Denver, Colorado. She’s focused on building her business, which leaves little time for dating—not that she needs a romantic entanglement to fulfill her. When her friend signs up for a self-defense class as part of her recovery after an attack, Amery joins her for support. That’s where she meets him.
Ronin Black, owner of the dojo, is so drawn to Amery that he takes over her training—in public and in private. The enigmatic Ronin pushes Amery’s boundaries from the start, and with each new tryst, Amery becomes addicted to the pleasure and to him. But when Amery senses Ronin is hiding something, she questions her total trust in him, despite the undeniable thrill of his possession….
Lorelei James has stepped way outside her box. Sure, she’s covered just about every possible theme and thread in her prolific backlog, but with Bound, the first in her highly-anticipated, two-part Mastered series, she’s entering new territory. James has traded in her usual ranches and rodeos, but kept the ropes. This isn’t your standard BDSM story.
Ronin Black is a force to be reckoned with, truly. Dark and mysterious with a brawn that showcases the eighth-degree black belt he holds, Ronin has an affinity toward martial arts and MMA fighting he has mastered and now teaches. Not much rattles him until a feisty new student hurls her pants at him in the middle of a self-defense class at his very rule-oriented dojo. Amery also feels the pull right away, and they waste no time in seizing that spark.
“Have I not made it clear that it will be more than self-defense training and business between us?”
“Why me?” she blurted. “To hear people talk, you’re some kind of martial arts god. You have that whole scary, mysterious Zen thing going on. And you are one of the hottest guys I’ve ever met.”
“One of?” he repeated.
“Okay, the hottest guy I’ve ever met, but I didn’t want to admit that because I didn’t want you to get a swelled head.”
Ronin smiled. “Thank you for the compliment. But I’m just a guy, Amery. A guy who works too hard and plays too little. And after meeting you?” His heated gaze roamed over her face. “I’m more than ready to play.”
But Ronin is also full of secrets. He holds almost everything back, and this becomes a sticking point for Amery, especially when she discovers his real skill lies in the Japanese practice of rope bondage, shibari and kinbaku. This freaks Amery way out, as her horizons have always been a little limited, and opens a whole new world for her, one she’s not sure she’s ready for. And she begins to ask herself, how well does she really know Ronin?
“Does it always have to be kinky between us?”
Ronin rolled her to face him. “What do you mean?”
She tried not to fidget under his sharp stare. “Will you need to tie me up every time in order to get off?”
His eyes narrowed.
“Oh, don’t try and scare me with that sensei glare.”
“I haven’t even begun to scare you.”
“I’m serious, Ronin.”
“So am I.”
“Understand one thing. I don’t always need ropes or ties, but I am always in charge. That’s one thing that won’t ever change. And I intend to prove it every chance I get.”
Ronin eases Amery into the idea of exploring this with him gently and with great care and really exhibits how lovely and intimate the rope bondage techniques can be. These scenes are poetic, and this story shows the softer side of the physical BDSM relationship, where dominance and submission, trust and respect still very much come into play, and the ropes aide in that process.
“If I wanted to punish you, I’d use a hojojutsu binding.” His arm snaked under hers and he wrapped his fingers around her throat. “Those ties include neck restraints.”
She swallowed hard.
“The challenge isn’t in the binding but in the chase and capture beforehand.”
Holy crap. A chase? Then a capture? That sounded a little scary.
“I feel your heart racing, Amery. Relax. Tethered turtle pose celebrates the duality of the creature—the beauty of a hard exterior that protects the inner softness.”
“You ready to begin?”
“Climb onto the coffee table and I’ll arrange you.”
Once he’d positioned her, she rested her cheek against the cool wood, breathing in the scent of the lemon furniture polish. Her knees were spread wide, but the rest of her body was curled in—a turtle in its shell.
“Beautiful.” He scraped his fingers down her naked back from her shoulders to the curve of her ass. “Breathe, baby, because it’s going to get tight.”
But as close as Ronin and Amery become in what they share together, in many ways Ronin will not open up. His cloaked heritage, his violent past, and the fact that Amery has to wonder if she’s just a dirty little secret rear its head time and again. Ronin is a hero for the books, undeniably alluring, unquestionably compelling, but there’s never been one who we’ve begged to get into his head more. It’s clear that Amery is special, but the things that hold him back, and if Amery’s willing to clear those hurdles after being let down over and over are precisely why we’ll be demanding the conclusion.
Learn more or order a copy of Bound by Lorelei James, available February 4, 2014:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.