An Unlocked Heart
Title : An Unlocked Heart
Author : K.C. Wells
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY IT HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, BDSM, kink
Length : 314 pages (e-book)
Published : July 12, 2013
A Collars & Cuffs Story
Since the death of his submissive lover two years ago, Leo hasn’t been living—merely existing. He focuses on making Collars & Cuffs, a BDSM club in Manchester’s gay village, successful. That changes the night he and his business partner have their weekly meeting at Severinos. Leo can’t keep his eyes off the new server. The shy man seems determined to avoid Leo’s gaze, but that’s like a red rag to a bull. Leo loves a challenge.
Alex Daniels works at Severinos to scrape together the money to move out on his own. He struggles with coming out, but he’s drawn to Leo, the gorgeous guy with the icy-blue eyes who’s been eating in his area nearly every night.
Leo won’t let Alex’s hesitance get in the way. He even keeps him away from the club so as not to scare him. And as for telling Alex that Leo is a Dom? Not a good idea. One date becomes two, but date two leads to Leo’s bedroom… and Alex discovers things about himself he never realized—and never wanted anyone to see.
Alex Daniels is twenty two and a recent graduate with a degree in Marketing, but due to the poor job market he is back living at home with his parents and younger brother. Alex feels fortunate that he has a job at a local Italian restaurant called Severino’s. He wants to save enough to be able to move out on his own. Alex has always felt like he does not belong and is a failure in his family’s eyes. His mother is cold and continually makes disparaging remarks to Alex. Rob, Alex’s younger brother is a constant source of aggravation. Respect and privacy are two things not given to Alex while living in his parents’ house making working at Severino’s one of Alex’s few pleasures.
Leo Hart and his business partner Thomas Williams arrive at Severino’s one evening for a business meeting. Leo and Thomas own a BDSM club together in Manchester and have been friends for many years. Thomas trained Leo as first his submissive, then as a Dom. While waiting at the bar for a table to open up, Leo spots a young waiter clearing tables. He is drawn to the young man’s demeanor, watching him move among the tables, never making eye contact with anyone. Alex is sent to serve the table for Leo and Thomas. Alex is fascinated as well as frightened by his reaction to Leo. He finds the way Leo speaks to him and the way in which Leo‘s glacial blue eyes seem to be assessing him, unsettling.
Thomas finds the attraction Leo has for Alex as a good sign and encourages him to pursue it. Leo lost his submissive and lover two years before. They had been together for six years and it left Leo shattered. He has not been in a relationship since. Alex agrees that maybe it is time to start living again and becomes a regular customer at Severino’s; always sitting in Alex’s section. After a month Alex is not up to more than small talk with Leo, even though he is attracted to him. It becomes apparent that Alex does not feel comfortable making decisions and Leo takes charge and plans their date. This is just what Alex needs.
Alex in very inexperienced and his self confidence has been battered by his family so it is understandable why he is hesitant. Alex has known he was gay since he was young and his only experience is from books and videos. He is conflicted about the way he is drawn to the books about D/s relationships and BDSM. He wants to explore these yearnings but he pushes those feelings aside, feeling like there is something wrong with him.
People around Alex and Leo can see the change that their relationship has had on both men. They are happier, pleasant to be around. Leo is careful to not tell Alex about his lifestyle, wanting to wait until they get to know one another a bit better, hoping to not scare Alex away. Their relationship is not welcome news to one particular sub, named Dorian. Dorian has been after Leo to take him as a sub for a long time. Dorian is unhappy to the point that he is willing to sabotage the relationship that Alex and Leo are building. The resulting conflict leads both Alex and Leo to take a good look at their own reactions and feelings for one another. Luckily these two men have some very good friends willing to provide their advice and support.
I enjoyed the way the relationship between Alex and Leo progressed. Alex needed someone who would take control but is patient and caring. Leo is drawn, first, to Alex’s vulnerability but gradually comes to see him as someone that he might be able to have a serious relationship with, not just a lover but also as his sub. It was sweet to see Alex draw strength from Leo and become a more self confident person. The story gave a nice balance to the roles of lover and submissive.
The supporting characters are wonderful, from the horrid younger brother, Rob, who was such a complete arse, Alex’s best friend and chef in training, Pietro, as well as the other Doms at the club and the staff at Severino’s. They were fun and I found myself interested in their stories without it taking away from Alex and Leo.
An Unlocked Heart is the first in the series Collars and Cuffs, an erotic romance with quite a bit of steamy on page sex that also explores D/s relationships and BDSM lifestyle. It was fun and sexy and I am glad to see it is a series because I am looking forward to reading more.
Rated 4 stars by Deb