“Time is a river, I’ve learned. Always moving forward. But for people like me, people who have loved and lost, the river is something we fight. We swim against the current, trying to get back to the way we once were, trying to hold onto anything to keep us from getting swept away. It’s exhausting and eventually we tire. Still we push on.” ― T.J. Klune, “Into This River I Drown”
Pre-review disclaimer: I am a huge fan girl when it comes to K.C. Wells. I am also a huge fan girl when it comes to T.J. Klune, which is what made it so cool that the quote above fit this review so well.
An Unlocked Heart is a story about love lost and new love found. The story of a man who had suffered a tragic loss and thrown himself into his work until meeting someone who made fighting the current of life no longer worth the fight. A young man who was able to unlock his heart.
Leo’s lover and submissive was killed tragically two years ago by a drunk driver. Since then, Leo has worked day and night to run his BDSM club “Collars & Cuffs”. He doesn’t date. He sometimes does demonstrations at the club. He sometimes does scenes at the club. But he is careful to keep his heart locked away where no one can touch it. If no one can touch it, then no one can break it again. He is trying so hard to not get caught up in the current of the river of life and be forced to move on. He has been successful so far, despite the fact that one of the subs at the club repeatedly asks to scene with him.
Leo’s business partner, Thomas, takes him out to dinner for a business meeting at an Italian restaurant that Leo and his former lover used to frequent. Leo hasn’t been there in two years. He is drawn to a young waiter who refuses to meet his eyes. In this waiter, Alex, Leo sees a natural submissive. He sees something he hasn’t in a long time; a challenge.
Alex works part-time at Severino’s to save enough money to move out on his own. His family is horrible to him. His parents treat him as a second-class citizen and his younger, golden boy brother can do no wrong. They don’t know he’s gay and he intends to keep it that way. They especially don’t know that he fantasizes about other men tying him up during sex. They would make his life even worse if they knew the things he desires.
Alex is drawn to Leo, and shivers when Leo uses that low, serious voice on him. He agrees to go out with Leo. They date a few times and wind up in bed. Alex likes it when Leo takes charge, but Leo thinks telling Alex that he is a Dom this early in their relationship will scare Alex away. Alex is discovering things about himself that scare him and he hesitates to tell Leo.
Leo’s obsessive sub from the club anonymously drops off a guest pass to “Collars & Cuffs” for Alex. Alex isn’t sure what it is all about, but he goes anyway. What he sees is Leo doing a demonstration of bondage on another sub. He immediately thinks Leo doesn’t want him and runs from it. Alex is also frightened by the desire that seeing the scene caused in him.
K.C. Wells takes the opportunity of Leo explaining D/s to Alex to illustrate how caring the relationship between a true Dominate and his submissive is. So many people see a D/s relationship and think, doormat and the asshole who hits him. In An Unlocked Heart, we are schooled in the wonders of D/s by K.C. Wells. She shows us, through Leo and Alex, that there is nothing wrong with two consenting adults partaking of a safe, sane sexual activity that they both find fulfilling.
By learning about D/s and exploring it with Leo, Alex is empowered. He is able to come out to his family. This causes some serious problems for Leo, eventually, but it strengthens the bond between them. The exploration of their relationship both as D/s and lovers slowly unlocks Leo’s heart. If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear the moment the lock springs open. It is a beautiful thing.
There is so much more I could write about this book, but you need to read it. You need to experience K.C. Wells’ style and knowledge for yourself. And you need to get ready for the ride of your life, because when An Unlocked Heart is opened, it’s the hottest sex ever. Forcibly, strenuously, lustily recommended.
Note: An Unlocked Heart is the first in a series of “Collars & Cuffs” novels. At this point, there are three planned, but I believe I see a fourth one developing…
Reviewed by: Tina