re-read July 2014 A. During Between my Kate Sherwood marathon I was in need of a kinky guilty pleasure re-read. The sub hero in An Unlocked Heart appears like the male incarnation of your average Harlequin Presents heroine in all the best ways :D. This is still my favourite novel in the series which I stopped reading after the third instalmen.
What is it with gay romance authors, that most of them seem to have two initials instead of a normal first name? L.A. Witt, K.C. Wells, S.L. Armstrong, A.M. Riley ...? Not that I mind, but it seems kind of funny to me right now, like a secret code LOL.
Here's what I liked about the story: The toppy hero, Leo, is seriously hot with the right combination of subtle alpha (no bulldozer here), a well-developed take charge attitude and with a soft heart inside that he isn't ashamed to share with his lover and partner, Alex. I just about swooned during the scene where he asks Alex out on a date, it was beyond sexy and subtly, superbly shows the early developing of their D/s relationship (my absolute favourite part in the story!)
Alex is the proverbial virgin and new to everything except internet porn and masturbation. He's a cutie and insecure, but not in a stubborn way, he just needs some time to overcome his shyness and develop trust to speak about his desires, as is well portrayed as the story progresses.
Leo introduces Alex slowly to BDSM which makes the whole story all that hotter, and I am very, very, very happy that, although there's a Sex Club involved (and I am not the biggest fan of those), there's no gangbang in the story and a nice reassurance from the author that the two heroes will stay exclusive. (I just prefer the exclusive part, as I don't find the whole "being shared" thing too sexy.)
Now, to what I was missing in An Unlocked Heart: The story is set in Manchaster and written by a British author, but, to my ear, totally missing the British voice. Having lived several years in the UK myself, I am a sucker for the slang, and I also love it when I get the go and feeling for the place/city/town where the story is set in. So far Manchaster - which I have never been to - stays exchangable for me.
K.C. Wells makes several references in the book to well known gay BDSM authors, the novels offering Alex and Leo a way of talking about BDSM and sex scenes. I know, I am probably small-minded, but I just don't like those. It kind of pops my fiction bubble and my being all immersed in the romance. The first time I encountered this, it was with a Karen Marie Moning book, I was so unsettled that the book went from "keeper" straight to "is going to be sold" status. I tried to block it out this time, more or less successfully.
I often read reviews where people complain about the sappy ending, which I personally hugely prefer to a rashed conclusion. Leo and Alex are made for each other, but talking about marriage after a few months together seemed fast, even for me, especially since Alex is so young (only 22) and has little experience of ... about everything.
And talking about Alex. He is a college graduate with a degree in marketing, I think. Due to economics he jobs as a waiter and does so until the very end of the story. Being a waiter is a honest and good profession, but it worried me that he never made any plans of looking for a job closer to his field of study. It seemed very passive to me, as I can't imagine him being happy with it in the long run.
I think the last part was what bothered me the most with this story, but it's a good and solid book worth every dollar and definitely not my last K.C. Wells story. A strong B+
Edited to add: After a few really bad reads I reread my favourite scenes from the book, and wasn't it lovely. I am curious about the next installment in the series, it seems to be something where Leo's business partner Thomas is involved with.