Author: Morticia Knight
Publisher: Totally Bound
Pages/Word Count: 167 Pages
At a Glance: Historical romance mixes with BDSM in this second book of a series
Blurb: Master Saul is captivated by the beautifully submissive Kenneth and the boy’s love of pain. Unfortunately, Kenneth belongs to Master Preston.
It’s 1926 and as one of the founding members of the Hampton Road Club, Master Saul Liebowitz has enjoyed the charms of many willing submissives over the years. One of the newer submissives to the club has captured his attention more than anyone has in a long time. Kenneth is tall, muscular and also seems to have a greater love of pain than most. If only Kenneth didn’t already belong to another Master.
After Kenneth’s Master died years before, he allowed himself to be taken in by the promises of Master Preston. As time has gone by, Preston has become increasingly crueler to the point where Kenneth fears for his life. They’ve recently joined a sadomasochism club and Kenneth can’t help but yearn for the handsome Master the other boys speak so highly of—Master Saul.
Preston takes things too far one night, and when Saul and his good friend, Master Aaron, do some investigating, they realize that Kenneth might be in real danger. Amidst turmoil at the club over whether there should be rules to keep the boys safe and Preston’s play for power, Saul searches for a way to save Kenneth from what he’s sure is a deadly situation.
Both men fight for what they believe to be the right thing. When they find their way to one another, a wonderful new world opens up to them. But there’s one man out there who refuses to let go of the old ways. Kenneth is his property and Master Preston won’t give him up.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and dubious consent.
Publisher’s Note: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series but can be read as a standalone.
Review: I’ll be forthright and admit I did not read the first in the Hampton Road Club series, but I will go back and read the first one as I found this to be an enjoyable read. I’ve said before that I like historical romance, and I also enjoy BDSM novels. Usually BDSM novels fall under the contemporary genre for me, but I took a leap of faith and was rewarded with a good story and characters I sympathized with. As the publisher states, there is violence and dubious consent in the novel, as well as attempted rape, so if those are triggers for you, then the book might not be the best choice for you. There’s also a very healthy dose of BDSM. One of the main characters, Saul, is in his fifties, and Kenneth is in his thirties. So while it’s not the largest age gap I’ve read, it is still large enough for some people, so I think that’s fair warning.
Even though the publisher suggests reading the series in sequence, I don’t think it’s necessary. The first book is about Aaron and Sam, and while I want to know what happened to get them together, enough is explained that this book isn’t ruined. Also given that this is about Saul and Kenneth, Aaron and Sam are usually off to the side.
Reading about the BDSM culture is another time period was interesting for me, as I’m fairly versed in terminology and practices of today. How much is accurate in this book I can only guess, but I would assume the author did research. Terms like “safe word” don’t seem to exist except in earliest forms, nor do “hard limits” or “soft limits,” but again they are mentioned to a degree. So when did BDSM evolve to what it is today?
Saul is a strong character with secrets, and I enjoyed reading about him struggling to not get involved in Kenneth’s life when he belonged to another man. The club he is a part of makes a great backdrop for much of the story, and seeing him navigate his multiple roles in club life gave the novel that much more depth.
As for Kenneth, I felt for him. He’s a character that really tugs at the heartstrings due to his situation. He fell into the lifestyle at a very young age, and when his first dominant passed away, he fell in with another man without really thinking about who he was or what Preston could do for him. And there starts his life of hell. He’s different from the other submissives at the club which, like Saul’s part, added another layer to the story. Unlike the others, he’s not very young. Nor is he small. While he is physically larger and stronger than the others, his mental weakness is what makes him fall victim to Preston time and again.
There are some unattached characters in this book that would make great reads for the third book. My hope is for Thomas and Linus. They’re minor in this book, but what little is seen of them I like, and I would love to know their story.
You can buy The Rules of Love here: