Unbound: Cara McKenna

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Release date October 15, 2013

She set out to find herself, and discovered the darker side of desire.

Merry’s lost a lot recently—first her mother, then close to a hundred pounds. Feeling adrift, she strikes out in search of perspective. A three-week hike through the Scottish Highlands was supposed to challenge her new body and refocus her priorities, but when disaster strikes, she’s forced to seek refuge in the remote home of a brooding, handsome stranger…

Rob exiled himself to the Highlands years ago, desperate to escape his own self-destruction. Haunted by regrets, he avoids human contact at all costs…but when Merry turns up injured, he can’t very well run her off. And as he nurses her back to health, Rob can’t resist his guest’s sweet demeanor—or her flirtatious advances. The igniting passion between them rouses a secret appetite Rob has long struggled to keep hidden. But Merry craves nothing more than to help Rob surrender to his desires, and the journey draws the lovers into an entirely different kind of wilderness.

This new Merry's off to walk across Scotland. And she's not coming back until she's f***ing  found herself. 

Merry has gone from being an overweight women men did not notice, to a new confidant woman. She has lost weight, but unfortunately she has also lost some people in her life. She is taking off on an adventure on a walking trek along the Scottish Highlands alone. She is enjoying her new found confidence and athletic prowess until she falls ill. The only man in miles is a man hiding away from people living a lonely existence in a  rustic cabin.

Rob is not ready for a house guest, but he really has no other choice. She needs help and he is the only one that can do it. One night, leads to another and a tenuous exploration of personalities leads to a burgeoning companionship, attraction, and lust. And as they dig deeper, we learn of his darker past and desires. And Merry is a good sport and not easily shocked. 

"I've met Rob the weird survivalist loner. And Rob the secret archer. And Rob the nice guy who's making me coffee, and who slept on his floor so I could steal his bed,....What was Rob from back in England like?"
"Sort of a miserable git."

This was about two people who were lost. He was hiding from his past life and demons. She was reinventing herself and trying to figure what was really important and getting over her own past pain. It is a journey of self discovery for both of them as they delve into each other's inner layers and share their secrets. It is about finding acceptance, self forgiveness, and opening up to love. 

Rob had lived in the darkness. Ashamed of his needs and desires, numbing himself with alcohol, and pushing everyone away. He now lives an isolated existence to avoid his weaknesses. He could be surly and secretive, but when his layers were peeled back, he was also vulnerable, scared, and ashamed. He did not believe he was worthy of love. But he could also be sweet and romantic and had a good heart. He was so broken and such a tragic figure. It broke my heart at times. 

He was handsome when he smiled, sexy when he scowled; beguiling when he hesitated this way, unreadable and fascinating. 

Merry stumbled right into his safe little rustic world and blew it apart. She gave him acceptance and was attracted to the real man--the gruff hermit hiding himself away, and as he began to open up and share his secrets and weaknesses, she continued to accept him and provide him support and hope. 

They were an unlikely pairing but just what the other really needed. He made her feel desired, beautiful, and strong. She made him feel needed, accepted, and cared for. 

A miracle--that's what this was. Astounding that her life should've intersected with his here, of all lonely places on this gigantic planet. That she'd had reason to need him, and to linger. That she wanted him, and he her, that he'd revealed himself as he had, and that she'd liked who he was. That for once, both halves of his feelings for women--the desire for companionship and the desire to slake his strange appetites--were embodied in one person. 

I liked them together. Their relationship built slowly, but became a deep, intense connection. But they had obstacles in their way. They lived in separate countries and had separate lives. And Rob's past continued to intrude on the present. I admit that the book started a bit slow even though it was intriguing and about midway when some of his dark secret desires were revealed, I felt that they kind of overpowered their romantic connection especially in the sex scenes. Although I see that it was necessary for him to truly open up and feel accepted. It just seemed a little much detail for the story.  But it also tied in with his other secret shame, so it was all intermingled and all had a huge effect on his previous behavior and self imposed seclusion. But I am used to more dominant men so it was a little hard to get on board with.

The scenery, the isolation  in Scotland, and even the city of Inverness provided a majestic backdrop to the story. They connected without all the modern comforts,  technology, and public facades. In that cabin, they were real, raw, and laid bare. And it  provided an catalyst for them to figure out where their lives were headed and what they each wanted in their futures so they could try to heal and move on. 

I would have liked an epilogue more into the future. The ending felt rushed to me. But I stayed up way too late wanting to finish it and truly felt like I had also been on a journey when I was done. And it did not leave me completely unsatisfied, but maybe just greedy for a bit more. Her writing style is detailed, digs deep into the psyche and emotional needs of her characters, and she is not afraid to tackle controversial subjects. It was told in both points of view and that was very important with this story since Rob was so closed off in the beginning and they both had such inner insecurities. It was a slow building story of forgiveness, redemption, trust, acceptance, and love tinged with darkness, pain, and emotional issues. 

Thanks to Cara McKenna, PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, InterMix, and Netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Cara McKenna Website/Twitter/Goodreads
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Cara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. A little dark, a little funny, always emotional. She also writes red-hot romance under the name Meg Maguire. Her wonderful publishers are Ellora's Cave, Harlequin Blaze, Loose-Id, Penguin / Intermix, and Samhain. She loves writing sexy, character-driven stories about strong-willed men and women who keep each other on their toes, and bring one another to their knees.

Cara was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award nominee, and a 2012 Golden Leaf finalist.

Cara is represented by Laura Bradford, of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Before becoming a purveyor of red-hot romance and smart erotica, Cara was a record store bitch, a lousy barista, a decent designer, and an overly enthusiastic penguin handler.

Cara now writes full-time and lives north of Boston with her bearded husband. When she's not trapped in her own head she can usually be found in the kitchen, the coffee shop, or jogging around the nearest duck-filled pond. She is a very proud member of the Romance Writers of America® and her local New England Chapter


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