If there has been a book this year that has grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and kept me up late at night, and found me reading while my children grizzled about toast promised to them an hour ago... Unrestrained is that book.
This is the story of Holly and Stein, two terribly wounded souls who find an incredible bond together that unites them against all odds.
The plot in a nutshell: Holly finds an iPad in a cafe, and in order to return the item to its owner, she opens it and looks at it, and finds a folder of explicit sexual photos of the female iPad owner with a man marked with a German tattoo. Upon further computer investigation (and no, she really shouldn’t investigate further but she can’t help herself and I ask... could you??) Holly discovers emails that prove the disgruntled girlfriend is trying to blackmail the man in the pictures (Stein) with threats to expose the photographs on the internet.
So Holly finds Stein’s details on the ipad and rings him to give him the iPad, and the two strike up a friendship.
What a friendship!
Stein deserves every medal in the universe for his incredible patience with Holly, and it made me love him SOOO much. What a guy. A stonemason! And I do love myself a blue-collar hero.
What these two get up to as Stein tries to win Holly’s trust was just champagne and caviar reading for me, with lobster on the side, and black forest cake dessert.
It’s not just sex. It’s incredibly emotional sex, and there’s a hell of a lot of foreplay on the way because these two are so, hate to say it, scarred.
Holly’s scars are such that she will not let Stein see her without a t-shirt, and he has to then come up with a myriad of fiendishly clever ways to get her to open up to him, while her clothes stay firmly on.
For sexual tension, I think Rhyll Biest just leapt into the top two or three authors I could name, but what I found different about Rhyll’s writing is that there is still a cut and thrust of dialogue and clever description throughout the book. All this is perfectly in character because Holly is an editor. So it’s absolutely fitting that she’ll say or think something that has me in stitches like: “fuck me sideways with a hyphen.”
This is a passage I loved because of what it tell us about these two. This happens quite early in the book:
“I’m not a doctor but I do know that neck lacerations are very uncommon in car accidents.”
He rested the cleared plates on the bench. “What makes me curious is that you feel the need to lie about them.” His calm grey eyes inspected her with a compassion she could not tolerate.
“I don’t lie, I just gloss over the details.”
A small smile parted his sensuous lips. “Do you gloss a lot?”
She glared at him.
“Can’t hide from me, Holly.” He fielded her glare and tapped his own scar.
I have two favourite, favourite scenes. (The entire book is one favourite scene). The first is when Holly washes Stein’s dishes. (Yes, you heard me right, his dishes).
I must say, washing dishes in my house hasn’t been the same since (and I own a dishwasher). Keep an eye out for this scene.
The second is their shopping trip to a grocery store. This is absolutely beautiful as they each swap “saucy stories of vegetable adventure.” There’s a brilliant twist at the end of this scene that reminds the reader of the stakes in this relationship.
I want to congratulate Rhyll who is a great writing buddy, and a ‘naughty ninja’ besides. I think Unrestrained is amazing, Rhyll, and I couldn’t recommend it more.