Unbound by Cara Mckenna held me captive right from the start. This author has the unique ability of wholly immersing me in her complex and unique characters. There are no rich, sexy billionaires. There are no innocent virgins waiting to be taken advantage of. No. Cara McKenna writes very real and multifaceted characters that are simply people like you and me. Albeit, there is usually much more to them when it comes to their sexual preferences and endeavors. Like… a whole lot more. Yes, Cara Mckenna holds this magical spell over me and I become enthralled with her books. My inner kinkster comes forth and I blindly follow this author into her dark and gritty tales. It is like.....
It is mesmerizing!
Out here, her body wasn’t a collection of desirable parts and shameful ones, a thing to be tricked and punished and outsmarted, outwilled. It was merely a vessel for food and water and sunshine, a structure of muscle and bone, a capable and ready thing.
Merry Murray has made some astounding alterations in her life. She sets out for further life altering changes when she decides on a three week trek across the Scottish Highlands. She wants to challenge herself with this adventurous vacation but she also wants to discover more about her late mother’s roots seeing that she was from Scotland. After two weeks of hiking it seems as if fate is against Merry making it to her final destination of Inverness when she falls violently ill. She remembers a small isolated cabin she passed and has no choice but to go back and seek help hoping that someone actually lives there. Merry approaches the remote cottage anticipating some aide and possibly a place to stay while she recuperates from whatever ails her. What she does not expect is that the self-discovery she came thousands of miles in search of would occur within the walls of the small cabin.
It had taken the wilderness to make a civilized man of him, and he longed for this place every second he was away from it.
He was hot. Strong nose, distrustful blue eyes. Sort of down-and-out, rugged hotness, like a sexy, desperate fugitive.
Merry watched his face as he fiddled with the straps, thinking he was the rarest kind of handsome, the sort of male beauty that could too easily be overlooked, hiding behind his beard and untamed hair. But when he smiled, there was no mistaking it. Like the way shadows fled behind the trees and buildings when the sun burst through the clouds.
Rob Rush is an Englishman who left his old life behind him out of sheer desperation and sought exile in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Rob has spent the last few years attempting to reconcile himself with his sordid past. He avoids as much human contact as possible and his only company is a dog he encountered on his first trek to Scotland. When a beautiful and injured woman appears at his door even his cantankerous and reclusive self is unable to turn her away. He reluctantly allows Merry entry into his secluded sanctuary and allows her to stay in his cabin while she recuperates. What Rob does not expect is the gruff, solitary and guarded walls he has so carefully erected are penetrated by the vivacious woman in his home. As much as he attempts to keep Merry at arm’s length, he can’t help to be drawn to her as she slowly brings him out of his secluded shell. The question becomes whether he is ready to deal with the likes of Merry or is it too soon to come out of his hibernation?
I found this book to be more of a slow build than the previous books I have read from this author. As the story progresses, we dive even deeper into who Merry and Rob truly are and the inner self they keep hidden, wrenching out deep emotions from both. Merry is on this path of self-discovery. She is essentially trying to find herself and wants to be comfortable with the new her. Merry is proving to herself just how capable she is of accomplishing something that she would not have been able to do a year prior while, simultaneously, she is experiencing freedom from all that is expected of her for the first time in her life. Rob, on the other hand, is hiding from the world. He has cut himself off from society almost as a form of punishment for all his sins. The shame of his past and the demons that he confronts on a daily basis keep him hidden and render him from socializing with others. He does not consider himself worthy of the privilege of human contact and wants to protect others from who he truly feels he is inside – someone who is rotten and not a very nice individual.
Both Merry and Rob are broken in their own right. Both find something in the other that ends up being exactly what they need. For Merry, Rob helps her to realize just how desirable and beautiful she is. She sees her worth through his eyes and slowly becomes more confident in her own skin. As her self-confidence grows, we see Merry emerge as this assertive and buoyant woman who takes on the sexual role that Rob needs her to. In doing so, she discovers just how passionate and kinky she can be. For Rob, Merry slowly brings him to the surface and stops him from drowning in his own isolation, misery, self-loathing and guilt. As he allows Merry to see the parts of him that he has kept to himself, he comes to realize that perhaps his past can be forgiven, that his deep desires aren’t something to be ashamed of and that perhaps the man he has become isn’t so terrible after all. Without even realizing, Merry challenges Rob and forces him to begin to come out of his hiding place. Because of her acceptance, Rob is able to confront life once again and deal with his inner demons. While both Merry and Rob are definitely flawed and imperfect, together they fit and there is a beauty in how they accept each other for who they are. I may not have ever dealt with Rob and Merry’s inner struggles; however, I found parts of their journey so incredibly easy to relate to. After all, we all have our secrets and hidden parts of ourselves that we keep from the world. What would happen if you were to let someone into the deepest, darkest corners of your soul?
All in all, Unbound was a wonderfully erotic novel about two very flawed individuals who begin the journey of really finding themselves. Meeting the other was just the initial trigger. This is a Cara McKenna novel and if you have read anything from this author prior to this book you will know that her books are extremely sexy, kinky and erotic. Unbound is no different. Once again we see Ms. McKenna explore the darker side of sexuality and I was absolutely drawn in. There is no vanilla here, people! Just a warning.
I will end by quoting one of my favorite exchanges between Rob and Merry. While the book was compelling and more about the emotional growth experienced by the hero and heroine, there were some extremely funny scenes and witty banter intertwined into this very intricate book.
“Where’d you learn archery?” she asked, tugging another arrow free.
“From my father, when I was a kid. Then I retaught myself when I moved out here.” He shot her a tight smile. “Even hermits need hobbies.”
She laughed, startled and pleased to find this man was capable of cracking a joke. “I wanted to take a class last summer, but it sold out. Because of all the kids into The Hunger Games.”
“Into the what?”
“Oh, right – you probably don’t have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Anyhow, archery’s very hot at the moment.”
“Good to know I’m on trend.”