Bound (Mastered Series 1)
Published date: February 14, 2014
Cheeseball rating: Two cheeseballs.
Authenticity of Spirit: Better than most.
How hot is it: Pretty hot with bondage. Obviously.
Hero: Ronin. He’s complex, dangerous, and sometimes funny. Like it! Age 38.
Heroine: Amery. She’s strong without being a shrew about it. Age 28.
Lorelei James takes a break from cowboy ropes and instead lassoes (too much?) us into a new story involving Japanese Shibari bondage. If you’re interested, there’s actually a Pinterest board devoted to it, so it’s pretty tame and is kind of an art. I’m a fan of Lorelei James, I like her characters, and think she does a great job of building really sophisticated tension between them. Their interactions seem honest, and they are generally just more self-aware than a lot of characters in Erotica novels. Bound is no different, continuing with grounded, realistic situations, atmosphere, and people.
The book starts with Amery going to a local dojo with a friend, and smarting off to the employees about not being able to observe the class with her friend. Apparently, the rules of Ronin’s dojo are super rigid, and everyone obeys them without question. At this point, I was afraid that it was going to be an arguing type of novel, but Lorelei is too good for that. Of course, Amery expresses irritation at times with Ronin’s dominance, but she goes deeper and truly starts to explore his world in a way that was interesting. The thing about bondage and BDSM is there’s a built-in psychological component, and oftentimes, it’s super depressing and intense, but again, James does a good job of not turning those issues into insincere melodrama.
As the book progresses, it’s the standard push and pull of Ronin not being entirely honest with Amery about his past, who he is, etc., juxtaposed with Amery’s own upbringing in an extremely religious family. While that doesn’t factor in the story in an invasive way, it does provide a backdrop for the tension between them. However, there are many moments of fun and lightness, and it’s done well, not just forced jokes that are supposed to be funny because the characters are laughing, but genuinely funny jokes. The supporting characters at the dojo are interesting, but Amery’s work colleagues weren’t my favorite and I mostly skipped those parts of the book. Nevertheless, Ronin and Amery keep you intrigued, and the story unravels at an easy, but not too unbelievable pace. I like that some time passes and we see the relationship build and grow.
Overall, I thought this book was slow to start mainly because it took me a bit to really get a read on Ronin, but once I got into it, I was really into it. So much so that I bought the other book and started reading it at like four in the morning. Sure, there were times when Ronin’s talking was kind of stilted and unbelievable, and at times knocked me out of the mood of the book. At one point he says, “I’ve fantasized about having these silken tresses wrapped around my fist…” you get the idea… There’s not a dude I know who would ever say “silken tresses,” but there wasn’t too much stuff like that so it’s not nearly a deal-breaker. Another thing I liked about this book was the Japanese culture, which I don’t find much of in romance novels, and the fact that Ronin is not only a quarter Japanese, but also sort of a samurai. It was a pleasant departure, and I’m only halfway into the second book in the series (a girl’s gotta sleep), but it’s shaping up to be an equally great read! That said, I hope Lorelei James hasn’t given up on cowboys for good!