Truly Helpless (Nature of Desire #10) by Joey W. Hill #BookReview #ExclusiveExcerpt #GuestAuthorVisit #Giveaway
Join me in giving a very warm welcome to author Joey W. Hill!
Read on for an exclusive excerpt and giveaway, PLUS my review of Truly Helpless! But first, Joey is treating us to a few extra book quotes to help set the tone for her guest post. Here we go!
She went a step closer to him, within reach of his powerful hands that had broken three strong men in one night. A raw energy gathered, prepared to leap. He was going to grab her, make her startle or flinch, which was what the demon inside him wanted. It wanted to make her afraid. That’s how it would take control. So…
She slapped him, then caught his shirt collar and yanked him back to her mouth for a violent kiss. When his arms went around her, she ripped open his shirt in one pull, summoning a snarl from him. His hands clamped on her hips and she countered, raking her nails down his chest, drawing blood. She’d had the occasional hardcore sub who craved bloodplay, and she knew how to deliver that when needed.
Gray eyes went back to lightning storm, but she’d startled him enough to get a split-second of advantage. She ducked under his arm, gripped the back of the shirt collar and yanked the whole garment off his broad shoulders to his forearms, restricting their movement. She hit the small of his back with the heel of her hand, pulled him back to his heels and put him on the ground while his balance was off. Shoving him face-forward to the tile, she changed her grip to his neck and planted her knee in his back, digging her nails into his flesh.
He wasn’t the first grown man she’d had to take down.
“You’re under the mistaken impression that there’s a rabbit in this room, boy,” she said sharply. “And you think you’re the big, bad wolf. That may be true, but I’m the she-wolf here, the bitch in charge. If you want to turn this into an all-out fight, you might win the physical side. You’re a strong beast. But if you want me to show fear, cower or startle when you whip out all that badness, you’ve picked the wrong fucking female.”
So…yeah. In Truly Helpless, Regina finds herself in some very dark waters with Marius. DVK was interested in having me address the challenge of writing a heroine who can counter and control lethal force in a physically stronger man, and wade through that dangerous psychological darkness without breaking down. And, even more importantly, without making readers say WTF?
Okay, admittedly, I’m known for sometimes making readers say WTF?! But you all typically stick with me to see how it all turns out, and for that I’m very grateful. Because sometimes the characters just have to go to WTF-land to find their HEA. [Now I’m reminded of Robin Williams with his classic line in Good Morning, Vietnam: “Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn’t we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? ‘Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we’d all be put out in K.P.”]
Yes, I have a sort of Tourette’s, only instead of sudden outbursts of expletives, I do sudden outbursts of movie quotes. But I digress. In writing a romance, and particularly a BDSM romance where the hero’s darkness can tip toward physical violence, an author walks a really fine line between losing a reader over a hero who’s an abusive asshole, versus winning their hearts with one who’s a damaged soul that desperately needs a stronger soul’s help to find his way back.
[quote]An author walks a really fine line between losing a reader over a hero who’s an abusive asshole, versus winning their hearts with one who’s a damaged soul that desperately needs a stronger soul’s help to find his way back.[/quote]
That’s a line not only walked in fiction, but in real life. No matter what people tell us is right or wrong, or politically correct (yuck – my least favorite term in the universe these days) I believe we have to listen to our own hearts and souls first, and figure out what we know is true for ourselves. We can’t slap the same label on every situation just because we’re afraid of how an outside world will perceive it. That’s what I want my characters to do as well. It’s simple good sense to be wary of someone who can hurt you physically. But how many spouses are out there dealing with PTSD situations, or loved ones with serious illnesses where the treatments might cause agitation and aggression? Though they hopefully take the right precautions to protect themselves, they don’t back away from helping and caring for those loved ones, even knowing there are elements of risk. That’s what caring about someone is about. Taking risks of heart, life and limb sometimes. It’s the challenge Regina faces in dealing with the darkness inside Marius.
[quote]That’s what caring about someone is about. Taking risks of heart, life and limb sometimes. It’s the challenge Regina faces in dealing with the darkness inside Marius.[/quote]
It also helps to have the heroine in question possess a background that qualifies her to deal with the situation. Regina is a strong, competent woman who served as a prison guard for three years. She’s also an experienced Mistress proficient in edge play. She doesn’t shy away from scary things, and she isn’t reactionary, freaking out and bolting when Marius crosses a line. She evaluates the situation, decides what’s needed and proceeds from there. Because of that, she was one of the most self-confident heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing, as this exchange with one of her friends shows. She’s just told Lyda some of what she’s experienced with Marius thus far:
Lyda scowled. “I heard Tyler kicked his ass out of The Zone. Apparently about fucking time.”
“This happened after that,” Regina said patiently. “That’s what I’m here to talk about. He’s become my project.” She took a breath. If she wanted good information, she couldn’t bullshit. “I came to you because I didn’t want to deal with the testosterone display I’d have to handle with Tyler about it, some lecture about getting in over my head in a situation he would have handled in exactly the same damn way. Am I in the wrong place? Did you have an operation I don’t know about?”
Lyda’s eyes narrowed. “You think only men can be protective?”
Regina snorted. “No. But we don’t transform into cavewomen over it and become entirely unreasonable. And this is about helping someone damaged figure out the best path to healing.” Regina’s attention shifted meaningfully to Noah, Lyda’s submissive. “Which sometimes means doing some things that look wrong from the outside but are the right course.”
Lyda snorted. “Using my own history against me?”
“Nope. Just proving a point. You think I’d let a man abuse me? I’m far more likely to carve off his testicles with a grapefruit spoon. I keep one in a kitchen drawer, just in case. I don’t even like grapefruit.”
Lyda’s expression eased, her sensual lips curving ruefully. “Point taken.”
So I guess the answer to how to write a heroine who can counter and control lethal force in a stronger partner is to a) have her demonstrate she has the training and background to assess the situation and make the best choices for them both and b) show a sympathetic view of the hero, so the reader recognizes he genuinely needs someone to help him see past the darkness to the light.
Oh, and make sure the heroine is someone who can love him with all her heart, without taking any crap from him (grin). I hope you enjoy the give and take between this intriguing pair in Truly Helpless!
Read an exclusive excerpt
Today, Joey is sharing an excerpt from Truly Helpless that you’ll only find on GraveTells. I love this scene! Hope you love it too. <3
© Copyright 2017 Joey W. Hill
So she was going with soft play. It surprised Marius, since he had a reputation for being able to take hardcore stuff and Regina wasn’t a gentle Mistress, but so far, even in pony play, she’d gone a different way. Well, yes and no. He’d expected the pony play to be undemanding, but she’d used the trappings to mindfuck him pretty damn well, taking him somewhere he hadn’t been before. So maybe he shouldn’t assume he knew where she was going with this. Thinking he did kept him in a comfort zone that might not last very long.
This, his hands in cuffs, he’d done this before. It was like a Domme staple. When she pulled them up, taking the slack out of the chain so his arms were over his head, she didn’t put any strain on his shoulders. She even double-checked that with the welcome grip of her smooth hand on those muscle groups. Was he disappointed? No…not necessarily. But her going the well-worn track with him was unexpected. She’d probably do a little flogging or spanking, maybe take him with a strap-on, have him come.
What he wanted to compel her to do was fuck him herself, her tight, wet pussy sliding down the full length of his cock, her ass pressed against his upper thighs as she seated herself there. She’d denied him direct participation in her last climax, denied him the right to fuck her. It was starting to piss him off. Or maybe that was the cuffs, this whole soft approach. He wanted a fight. He wanted her to push, to hurt.
Hell, what was she fucking planning to do? She’d asked if he trusted her enough to let her cuff him. He did. But alarm bells still went off. Especially when she put a blindfold on him, an eye mask she seated securely so he was kept in darkness.
But why did it bug him? He’d been blindfolded before. Hell, full head mask, gagged, hog-tied and immobilized. That didn’t put him out of control. He still knew how to work a Mistress, even when it seemed all senses were hampered. Body language was almost impossible to completely silence and Mistresses looked for the responses they wanted to see. He could give her a good time. Why wouldn’t she give him the freedom to do that?
Why was he having a fucking two-way argument with himself that was threatening to burn out the hamsters turning the wheels of his brain?
“I don’t want a blindfold. I want to see you in my shirt.” He never wanted her to wear anything else.
He’d said it like a demand and knew it. Wouldn’t apologize for it.
“There’ll be time for that. You’re a little too bossy right now. Let’s take care of that.” Her fingers were at his mouth, easing in a ball gag. He locked his jaw, but she merely slid her finger into the hinge and wrenched it open, strapping it in before he could force it loose. It had a handkerchief wrapped around it. When the scent hit his nostrils, it stilled him.
“I rubbed that between my legs,” she said. “I want you to know how much I liked thinking about doing this to you. And how much I liked that kiss at the Riverwalk.” Her knuckles slid along his sides, to his hips, down over his upper thighs.
Her voice thickened, giving him an unexpected glimpse of emotion. She stayed in such control, was she playing him now? But her words hit him in a way that didn’t leave room for him to analyze.
“I don’t know if any sub can truly understand what it does to a Master or Mistress, seeing you helpless, surrendering your will to us. It takes the mind some interesting places.”
She pressed against his back, her hands sliding along his bound arms. “You think you can scare me, big bad wolf? You don’t know all the uncivilized things I want to do with you, here, trapped in my house, bound and helpless. It’s you who should be worried.”
Read my review
Marius is an alpha sub, the kind of guy who likes control and will only hand it over to a Domme who is strong enough to handle his darkness. And this man’s darkness runs deep. But his need to submit goes even deeper, and that emotional face-off manifests in violence and snark. In the fighting cage, he’s called Rabid, and no one can take him down. But in the club, he’s a man drowning, reaching for the salvation of a worthy Mistress, only to sabotage himself.
“Marius is an accomplished, self-aware split personality. At one time, he excelled in any structured role that didn’t challenge what lies deep inside him. It allowed many Mistresses to enjoy him. In turn, they likely provided him an outlet that kept the darker things managed. But at a certain point…”
“A switch flipped.” Regina nodded. “He couldn’t do it in session anymore. But he also couldn’t submit , so he started to push back harder and harder, until it went into the unhealthy area. He can’t stay on the surface of his submissive cravings anymore, but he can’t let go enough to do the deep end, which is really where he wants to be.”
The fight scene near the start of the story is stark, gritty, immersive. It’s as well penned as the cage matches I’ve seen in some series dedicated to MMA romances, but with a thread of darkness.
His time with a Domme was supposed to be about getting her off. He hoped Regina would agree to that next time so he could fuck her and be done with this. He hoped for that almost as much as he wanted her to never give in to him. But they always did. Or they broke. He was the child that always broke his toys before he could figure out how to play with them.
One of the things I look forward to most in any Joey W. Hill book is her creativity and unique insight into the head space of the players. Her stories never get repetitive or boring, and she gathers and grooms the undercurrents of power and need until the atmosphere hums with excitement.
With time and some discipline, a man could develop a body that met all the physical measurements for hotness, but that didn’t translate to sexy . Sexy meant that he could make a woman think of sex just by moving and breathing, because his sexuality was bone deep, a vital part of his masculinity. It was in their gait, their attitude.
Regina had seen overweight, middle-aged men with receding hairlines at The Zone who possessed the quality, and muscle heads with tight asses and big dicks completely lacking it.
A sexy man understood what aroused a woman. He knew because he paid attention, and because getting that response was what he craved to drive his own arousal. It was a trait all sexy men had, be they Doms, subs or vanilla.
Truly Helpless features a pony play scene, and it is beautifully crafted. Regina uses the special fetish and bondage gear to bring Marius into a safer head space, one where the wounded animal within can’t lash out and do more harm. She uses the scene to give him what he needs but not what he wants.
This story is dark, and Marius is truly dangerous. Not in the I’m a badass fighters and I know five ways-to kill you sort of way, although he probably does. No, Marius is a man haunted by the demons of his past, so broken emotionally that he can’t always control his reactions, and his skills make getting close to him, physically or emotionally, a risky proposition. Especially when he’s vulnerable, and isn’t that what Mistresses do best—bring out vulnerability?
I love that Ms. Hill is not afraid to take her stories outside the normal comfort zones many BDSM books tend to stay within—D/s, Master/slave, impact play and public sex. Oh, her stories have all that, but she also takes on themes like pony play, the Mommy/boy dynamic, electrical play, and sounding (sometimes in very intriguing combinations). The best part of Ms. Hill’s storytelling is that she takes everything in stride, and while often tantalizingly voyeuristic, every scene or character dynamic has a purpose. She dives deep into the psychology of the BDSM lifestyle, giving her romances a heady, introspective quality that pulls a reader in.
Readers already familiar with Ms. Hill’s work will enjoy the cameos sprinkled through the story, obviously some from the Nature of Desire series, but other series as well—even a quick appearance from a fan favorite Knights of the Boardroom pairing.
Marius and Regina’s story is not an easy one, and readers sensitive to outbursts of violence and (non-detailed) flashbacks of animal cruelty should tread cautiously. While yes, these parts were hard to read, they are also core to Marius’s character**, and the story wouldn’t carry so much depth and power without his dark side.
**Pseudo-spoiler for sensitive readers: Marius does not partake in the animal cruelty and is only forced to witness it.
Truly Helpless is recommended for readers who enjoy…
- Psychologically flawed or damaged characters
- BDSM club dynamics or scenes
- Femme domme romances
- Romances with alpha subs
- Gritty stories about professional MMA-style fighters
- Pony play, sounding, electrical, and pegging (anal sex with a strap-on) scenes
- General mind-fuckery
- Racially diverse couples
- Immersive romances, heavily introspective
My star rating:
Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
Series: Nature of Desire #10
Published by Storywitch Press on April 30, 2017
Genres: Kinky Romance, BDSM romance, Alpha male sub, Femdomme
Add it to your To Read shelf: Goodreads
Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest
Marius has all the things a Mistress could want in a one-night-sub encounter. Hot body, loads of charm and a willingness to get her off in any way she pleases. That’s his reputation at The Zone. But Marius has a dark side. When a Mistress pushes him for something deeper, he’ll push back, mess with her head. When he takes it too far one night, The Zone management has had enough. He’s kicked out of the club and there’s only one way back in—Lady Regina.
Regina’s been studying Marius for a while. She enjoys her submissives in all flavors, and she likes them challenging, though not usually the “knight-in-distress” type, so screwed up she’d need a backhoe to dig him out of his dysfunctions. But on that pivotal night, she sees something in Marius. He doesn’t know what it means to be truly helpless to a Mistress, but he needs it, more than any sub she’s ever encountered. And that’s a challenge this Mistress can’t resist.
*This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
PS – looking for FREE goodies from Joey?
She has an AMAZING collection of freebies on her fan site here. Seriously, you can binge for days on extras featuring her fab characters. Check it out here: http://storywitch.com/community
Watch the video below if you want to see Joey read you the first chapter of Truly Helpless!
Joey is giving away a free e-book from her available titles (reader’s choice!) and $15 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky reader! To enter to win, leave a comment below then enter via the prize widget! When you comment, let us know…
- If you love alpha male subs and what you’re looking forward to with Marius in Truly Helpless
- If you’re a fan of femdomme romances and what you like most about them
- Any particular lines of dialogue that stood out in the excerpt above
- Your favorite quotes from my review
- Any other comments for Joey! You never know. She just might answer. =)