Bound (Mastered, #1) by Lorelei James

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES

In the new Mastered series by New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James, a woman’s desire to shatter her inhibitions leaves her unprepared for where that erotic journey will take her….

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….

My Thoughts:

Bound is the inaugural book in Lorelei James’ new series, The Mastered.

I will confess that when I first started reading the book I thought it was going to be yet another redux of Fifty Shades of Grey. I immediately had the thought, “Been there, done that…but, I like Lorelei’s work so I’ll give it a shot.” I’m glad I got past my preconceived notions and delved into the sexy world of Ronin Black. The book was sexy and edgy with perfectly interspersed dollops of sweet throughout.

About the characters:

Ronin Black
Mysterious and sexy eight-degree black belt, with topaz colored eights and shoulder length chocolate brown hair. At many times in the story, Ronin is insufferably aloof, standoffish, and selective about sharing details about his life. But Ronin has a secret. Well…one really big one that the reader doesn’t find out about until the end of the story. The other “secret” is not so much a secret but a predilection that Ronin gives Amery glimpses of at onset of their “relationship”. Ronin is a shibari and kinbaku master. His passion for rope bondage puts him in quite a predicament with Amery later in the story. Ronin keeps his life almost completely separate from Amery’s, minus the smoking hot physical interactions they have together. He holds himself off from her while demanding to know every private and intimate detail about her life. His reaction to Tyler was a bit caveman-beat my chest-my womanish. However, when Amery asked him about his ex Naomi, all she got in return was scant details. Ronin also failed to let Amery know about his lineage which caused a MAJOR issue between them at the end of the story. At that point, we actually see more emotion from Ronin than we see throughout the entire story — even during their smexy times. He is visibly shaken and upset about Amery’s reaction to his intentional deceit.

Amery Hardwick
A “Debbie Do-Right” type of woman who was raised by fundamentalist Christian parents. The only physical detail we really glean about her is that she has strawberry blonde hair and clear porcelain-like skin. Amery is a talented graphic designer with a struggling business. She and Ronin meet at his martial arts center, Black Arts, where she is accompanying her friend and colleague, Molly, who needs a bit of How to Defend Yourself 101 training after being attacked. Amery’s first interaction with Ronin is combative and contemptuous. Although she is not prone to rocking the book, she does so with him and challenges his authority. For me, Amery is often very weak-willed and passive. I was shaking my head often about her not pushing Ronin to know more, especially after she’d given him everything. She allowed him to thoroughly possess her—mind, life, body, and heart—and the only thing he freely gave her in return was his body. Amery also irritated me with her over the top reactions to things. There is an incident when Ronin is forced to use his training in a real life situation. If he didn’t, he and Amery could have been seriously hurt. Amery’s reaction, “He’s prone to violence and he scares me…” That’s not what she said literally but that is the gist of her reaction. And two seconds later, I kid you not, she’s telling him that his display of power got her hot. There were a few incidents of Amery’s overreacting in the story. But the end of the story actually had me standing up and offering her a round of applause. Finally…finally…she stood up for herself and let Ronin know that she wasn’t co-signing with his secretive and selective behavior any more. I hope we see even more strength from her in Unwound.

The Story
Anyone who is a fan of Lorelei James‘s work will enjoy this story. Bound contains her usual level of book hotness and a potent story that fully engages the reader from beginning to begin. I started my review by stating that I thought Bound would be a redux of Fifty Shades of Grey. It is not! The story is wholly unique with it’s storyline and characters. Ronin is no tortured Christian Grey-esque hero and Amery is certainly no naive Ana Steele. Amery may have had a rigid upbringing but she is by no means naive. Unsure of her beauty, yes. Naive, no. Her response to Ronin more than proves that. I also appreciated the balance of the secondary characters in the story. Amery has a very eclectic band of friends and Ronin’s friends…well as “friends” for Ronin as they could get…were the polar opposite. Bound was extremely enjoyable, but be warned that it ends in a cliffy. I know! We. Hate. Those. 🙂 But, be strong, Unwound will be released on March 25 so there isn’t a long time to wait to find out what happens for and to the couple.

The Audiobook
I listened to Bound as an audiobook and the narrator, Rachel Vivette, did an excellent job capturing the intense sexiness of Lorelei’s words. She did an outstanding job with accents and inflections and made the book and enjoyable one to listen to.

Ratings Detail:

Rating for male protagonist: 4★ Rating for female protagonist: 3½★ Rating for secondary characters: 4★ Plot Viability: 4★ General Storyline: 4★ Story Ending: 4★ Ease of Reading: 4★

Cliffhanger: Yes

Overall rating: 4★

Purchase Locations: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Audible

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