February 24, 2015

REVIEW: Unraveled (Mastered #3)

Unraveled (Mastered #3), by Lorelei James
To Be Published March 3, 2015
Publisher: NAL Trade
Format: e-ARC, provided by NetGalley
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Shiori Hirano and Knox Lofgren are left to run the martial arts program at Black Arts while Ronin Black travels. On the surface, the two highest ranked belts appear to cooperate—but in private, they butt heads constantly, despite the undeniable attraction between them. Soon their power exchanges start to make for a sweltering dynamic in the bedroom…

At first Knox is shocked to be living out his submissive desires, but Shiori sets out to prove that embracing his true sexual nature doesn’t make him a weak man. But even while their sexual relationship grants him a power and fulfillment he finds surprising, there’s no training regimen for the fight that comes with loving a strong woman…

Ever since Shiori Hirano came on to the scene at the end of Bound, it seemed that she and Knox were heading for a reckoning of some sort. I've always said that passion is passion whether it manifests as lust or anger (and one usually morphs into the other). Shiori and Knox were constantly at each others' throats both literally and figuratively from the very beginning. But, you always got the impression that there was something more there. Turns out, you would be right. Unraveled finally tells their story.

While Ronin's talent may have been with the ropes, Shiori's is with the whip. She's a dominatrix, and she's looking for a new place to play in Colorado. Knox knows there's something about her. With Ronin on vacation, Knox is running the dojo, so he is having to work around Shiori closer than ever before. There are moments when things between them are... different. But, Shiori is Ronin's sister, and he thinks he is way too manly to ever play submissive to her domme. 

For once, this story is about the female MC showing the male MC who he really is. Sorta. The thing is, Knox pretty much already knows who he is. He is a crazy amazing martial artist. He's a smart businessman. He spends his spare time doling out pain to those who want it at Ronin's club. But, Shiori thinks he's missing something, and when she confronts him about it, he doesn't take it well.

I really liked Shiori's way of handling Knox. She knows he has a lot of pride. They did a lot of talking about their roles in their relationship, which is nice for a change. In relationships like theirs, conversation is important, but especially for these two. Outside of the bedroom, Shiori and Knox work together. Knox is technically her boss. 

I don't know many couples that could handle the constant role reversal that these two have. At work, Knox is in charge. At home, it's Shiori. I would get whiplash and wonder if I would ever forget where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. Hence, the necessity for all the conversation. But, even all that conversation can't handle all the contingencies. They run into some bumps in the road when things with Ronin's side MMA business start to involve Shiori in some personal ways. The woman who is always in control suddenly feels very out of control, and her actions reflect that. 

Honestly, it was nice seeing Shiori out of her element for a change. Ronin and Shiori are very similar in a lot of ways. They are very in control of their feelings and their actions, until they meet someone who very unexpectedly turns their worlds upside down. For Ronin, that was Amery. For Shiori, it's Knox. Shiori and Knox are explosive, and I loved every minute of watching them discover how great they were together.

At its core, Unraveled is a really fantastic love story. It's a story about discovering who you are, and about realizing it's okay to be more than one thing. And, it's a story about control and knowing when to give it up. Groundwork was laid for future stories in this series, and I'm completely on board for whatever Lorelei James has planned next.   

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