Dec 1 2014 11:15am

First Look: Lorelei James’s Schooled (December 2, 2014)

Schooled by Lorelei JamesLorelei James
Schooled (The Mastered Series)
Intermix / December 2, 2014 / $2.99 digital

When Amery Hardwick first met martial arts master Ronin Black, she wasn’t ready for the level of his sensual artistry—or his need for extreme control. Nor was she prepared for the primal urges it released in her. Amery and Ronin were made for each other.

When they married they were certain their future would be a fulfilling journey of love and passion. But happily ever after is never so simple. Six months later, while in Japan, Ronin is training with his sensei, while Amery is consumed by her own burgeoning career—and a culture shock with which she is struggling to adapt.

Now, from the heady pleasures of Tokyo bondage houses to the unyielding family traditions pulsing with every beat of Ronin’s heart, Amery and Ronin find the limits of their relationship tested once again, and shocked to discover what they’re willing to do in order to save it.

The great thing about sequels after fan favorite couples get their HEA is the comfort of knowing they have conquered all and come out together, while still getting to see them learning to navigate the everyday obstacles of life. This is exactly what we find in Lorelei James's Schooled, her follow-up to the Mastered duet featuring Ronin and Amery Black. 

After Amery's introduction to the art of Japanese rope bondage and Ronin's continued mastery of it, their new marriage is solid. But even though they've found common ground, they're still pretty different.

“Do you want to get off this plane and fly commercial? Because I will.”

“Are you kidding me? No. Way.” 

She nuzzled his jaw. “I just don't want you to get short with me when I'm overwhelmed by who you are outside of our life in Denver.”

He rested his forehead to hers. “You are my life regardless of where we are. I know I'm selfish for demanding you come with me. I can't stand the thought of being away from you for two and a half months. But if that means you resent me –”

Amery lifted her head to gaze at him and then pressed her lips to his. The feel of his weight on her, the taste of him, his scent, those were familiar. Those things grounded her as much as they grounded him. That's why she was going. He needed her there with him. “No resentment. But you'll have to figure out a way to deal to deal with my freak-out moments, because this is the first of many.”

Ronin's lips curved into a wicked smile. “I've come up with a few ideas on how best to distract you, baby.”

“Do those ideas involve rope?”

He rubbed his nose to hers. “Always.”

The ties that bind them, indeed. Amery's new life is an adjustment, one of private planes, laps of luxury, and where security is triple checked. With Ronin, James has created a legend, but given who he is, some of his problems aren't so everyday. On a delayed honeymoon to Japan, Ronin gets to show Amery his world and combines the trip with an intense training session. When they're together, basking in the new-found happiness of new-found newlyweds, it's the best it's ever been, but when Ronin retreats inside himself completely during his long weeks of training, it's clear they have more to learn about each other still.

“Ronin –”

He cut her off with a kiss and then pressed his forehead to hers. “I'm sorry I've been distant.”

She breathed a sigh of relief that her pushing him to talk hadn't pushed him away. “Thanks for talking to me about what's going on. Even if it did take you two weeks.”

“I'll do better next time.”

“You better.”

He dropped his hand into the water and moved her arm out of his way. “I've missed touching you.”

“What a coincidence,” she murmured, “I've missed you touching me too.”

His hand followed the outside curve of her body to her hip. “Let's do something about that.”

“Right here in the sacred onsen?” she teased.

“I need to be up in that sacred pussy, baby, so straddle me on your knees and prop your hands on the ledge behind me.”

There was her take-charge man.

Ronin and Amery are one of those couples—one that launched a new series in a new genre for James—for whom we always want more of the story. That they've come so far, but have plenty of room to grow is what keeps us coming back, although the shortened length here doesn't allow for James's usual James love scenes. But seeing Ronin's world firsthand is the real treat, and the message is strong: Ronin and Amery are still learning, individually and together, but when they meet in the middle, they get everything they want.

Learn more about or order a copy of Schooled by Lorelei James, available now:

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Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also runs a non-profit coffee shop, which is the perfect complement. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.

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