Bonds of Courage (Wicked Play #6)
by Lynda Aicher
An Erotic Contemporary Romance
From Harlequin/Carina Press
Released on June 16, 2014
Book Six of Wicked Play
Pro hockey player Holden Hauke has kept his sexual needs buried for years. After a near miss over a picture of him bound to a spanking bench resulted in a mid-season trade, he’s kept his image clean. But with the season over, he’s ready to surrender control. And he’s found just the woman to help him—if only he can convince her to give him a chance.
Bending men to her will is nothing new for Vanessa Delcour, aka Mistress V—she’s a full-time rep for pro athletes, a part-time owner of exclusive sex club The Den, and an experienced Domme. But when Holden Hauke comes looking for a discreet partner, Vanessa’s concerned about his motives. Touching his training-toned body during a scene wouldn’t exactly be a hardship, but taking him on crosses barriers between work and play that she’s had in place for years.
From their first intense encounter in Mistress V’s playroom, Hauke knows he can’t let this chance slip away; he’s found the woman he’s always needed. Submissive or not, he’s willing to push her every limit to prove how good they can be together.
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Holden has a need to be dominated–one that he has denied for too long. Although he accepts his need he doesn’t want to shout it’s still not something he can openly pursue because of his career. That’s how he finds himself at The Den being interviewed by Mistress V.
Vanessa keeps a tight control on her life. She separates her Domme persona from her business one and not once has she let them collide. But there’s something about Holden that pushes all her buttons and tests all the boundaries she has set for herself.
Once again, Lynda Aicher brings to the page a lust-filled, emotional tale of trust and acceptance.
I loved the characters, especially Holden. His submission was a beautiful thing to see and when paired with Vanessa’s conflicted emotions it made their story a fantastic read.
I enjoyed Holden’s acceptance of his needs and his easy and laid back personality. He was intense when it came to his desires but yet so understanding, open and caring when it came to Vanessa that I couldn’t help but cheer him on in his pursuit of something more with her.
As for Vanessa, I have to say that I admired her strength of character. Her past and conflicted emotions were the one thing that kept me interested in the outcome of her story. I admit though, that there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into her, but eventually she came to realize that Holden was not only the perfect sub for her but the man she needed at her side.
Of course, their chemistry was off-the-charts hot. I enjoyed their scenes and the intensity in which they came together. And when emotions came into play? Ufff! Amazing!
Although Bonds of Courage is the sixth book in the Wicked Play series it can certainly be read as a stand alone. However, I recommend reading all the previous books since they all are a great addition to the series.
*I received this title in exchange of my honest opinion.
Bonds of Trust (Wicked Play, #1) — 3.5 stars
Cali has finally decided to explore the idea that she might be a submissive, so she becomes a member of the most exclusive sex club in town. Although scared of taking this step, she knows that it’s the only way she can ever be true to herself after years of being what everybody expected her to be. What she wasn’t expecting was to have one of the owners take an interest in her. Not only does Jake bring her submissive side to the surface, he also wakes up feelings she had thought long forgotten – love and longing.
I loved the premise of this story very much, it’s not often that we get an “older” woman as a main character, much less having her try something new at this stage in her life. That was what I liked best of Cali. She felt real, with insecurities and needs that had been unfilled for a long time, but strong enough to go after what she wanted. Then to pair her up with Jake, a self-proclaimed wanderer who’d never stayed long enough in one place, and you know that what you’re going to get is one intense story.
Bonds of Trust is a great start to a series with the introduction of the club setting and the additional characters that appeared in the story.
Bonds of Need (Wicked Play, #2) — 4 stars
Kendra is running from her past and her needs. A natural submissive who needs pain to gain her pleasure. She doesn’t want to need the pain and feels shame that she does, but her desire to fulfill those needs are greater than her will to not engage in the lifestyle, so she heads out to The Den once and for all. Once there she is fully determined in her mission. With her set of rules to keep her safe she finally approaches a Dom.
In a set of events that are packed-full of emotions, she finds herself not with the Dom she approached but with Deklan. A quiet man that exudes confidence and sexiness just by the way he stands, Deklan is a partner in The Den. A Dom who’s focus is on training submissives, he sees something in Kendra that he can’t help but want to explore. So with their set of rules all laid out they venture forward to help Kendra accept her needs without shame or fear.
And what a journey that was!!!
This time around the author delivered in all fronts. The story not only had the sensuality I’ve come to expect, it also had the range in emotions, a little bit of angst with a little humor mixed in and the wonderful development of a romance. This was not insta-love. This was a relationship based on trust earned and acceptance of needs. They talked, they laughed and they shared intimate moments and what came out of it was a beautiful coupling.
Bonds of Desire (Wicked Play, #3) — 2.75 stars
Allison is an independent, young lawyer who makes her own decisions and doesn’t see the appeal of letting herself submit to a man to gain her pleasure. Like she said, that’s what vibrators were for. However, she does feel drawn to Tyler and Seth both for different reasons. She admits that she’s attracted to Set, a partner in The Den and a practicing Dom. She just doesn’t think that they have anything in common except their mutual attraction. When she meets Tyler she feels not only an instant need to protect him, but sees something in him that pulls at her – his quiet dominating way.
I had great hopes for this threesome. I thought that the concept had a great chance of bringing to the page a whole range of emotions and depth in characterization, instead I was left feeling flat. The connection between the three was thin at best and not developed thoroughly within the story. There was a lack of dialogue, but a lot of inner pondering that in reality didn’t help in me relating to any of the characters. Just when I thought I had a beat on who that character was, the story veered in another direction. It felt like I had to wade through a lot of ramblings just to get a sense of who each character was.
I believe that it is because of this that I couldn’t buy Allison’s sudden change of heart and acceptance of their relationship. Don’t get me wrong, they had chemistry to boot. The sex scenes were good, even if I felt they were cut short sometimes. It was hot seeing them together, but it would have been even better if their connection were stronger. It was just that connection, that time of truly getting to know each other that was missing. Maybe with a few more pages of dialogue and a lot less pages of pondering and wondering and more time spent together, this relationship would have been more believable to me.
Bonds of Hope (Wicked Play, #4) — 4 stars
Quinn arrives at The Den to get some training for a movie role. She is tired of what her life has become and wants a chance to make a change. The Den is both shocking and exciting and she wants to learn more.
Marcus is not keen on ‘babysitting’ a movie star, especially now that he is a partner in the club. He has his hands full with his clients and has not time to waste. So when Quinn requests to experience the lifestyle, he goes full out. What he wasn’t expecting was how this experience will affect them both.
Once again, Lynda Aicher managed to deliver a sensual yet emotionally driven story. Neither Quinn nor Marcus are in search of love, but when they start their training and their emotions come into play, both of them must deal with the reality that is their life.
She’s an actress, he’s a Dom. She’s not strong enough to speak of her feelings and too inexperienced in the lifestyle to compromise on his career. He’s too stubborn to let go though and when tragedy strikes, he’s there ready to change his life in order to have her.
I liked that the author developed their connection over time and that their relationship wasn’t immediately a physical one. They had their scenes, but mostly they talked and shared and when the time came for them to ‘train’ it was packed full of sexual tension and excitement. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Bonds of Denial (Wicked Play, #5) — 5 stars
Rock has been fighting his sexuality since he was fourteen years old. This was made essential when he lived under his father’s thumb and then when he went in the service. Forced to deny himself the pleasure of another man’s company, he has lived his life lacking any emotional involvement other than those of friendship. But his need to give into his desires strengthened ever since he first laid eyes on Carter at The Den.
Carter is an escort and although it has worked out for him for a decade he can’t wait to get out. However, his fear of failure has him questioning his decision to renew his contract. He’s glad that at least his ‘work’ has become routine, especially now that he has a few regular who make it easy on him to continue with this trade. That is until one appointment with an unknown ‘john’. Although rattled by the man who paid for his services, he is a professional and will do what it takes to bring pleasure to the conflicted man he encounters.
Little do these men know that their meeting will lead to a journey where the strongest of the two will crumble and the one that was in a tattered state would be the one to save them both.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this story!
Lynda Archer brought together all the elements I have come to expect from the M/M genre to make this an intense romantic read. She took a difficult subject and brought all the emotions and consequences it entailed and blended it together with need, lust and longing to bring forth a story of acceptance and new beginnings. I loved it and enjoyed from start to finish. The dark, the light and everything in between.
About the Author
Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. It’s a simple fact that has been true since she discovered the words of Judy Blume at the age of ten. After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. If writing wasn’t a priority, it wouldn’t get done.