15 April 2015

Barely Restrained (Shadows, #3) by Brenda Cothern

Roni is the head bartender at the Tampa nightclub Shadows. All she wants is to date normal humans as she brings enough baggage to the table as a changer. However, when her past comes calling and she kills her tormentor once and for all, what she thought she knew about her new lovers turns out to be a lie. Surviving the punishment for her crime is the easy part but can she accept what her lovers are? Author Note: Contains adult sexual content, including m/m and BDSM practices.
Yet another awesome installment in the Shadows series. In Barely Restrained we are treated to Roni’s story. Because this is the third book and Roni is a bartender at Shadows and has been in the previous books, I knew what she was and what it meant for her to be a changer as we have met her preferred male and female forms before. But knowing that Roni is a changer doesn’t mean that Roni wasn’t a mystery because she has been a woman of few words despite her constant presence and we find out rather quickly, that there’s a lot about her that she hasn’t told her Shadows family about.

Despite the happiness of the couplings of her friends and co-workers, Roni only dates norms and by all indications, date is a rather generous term for those relationships. So when Zac happens to take notice of her and catch her eye while she’s bartending the Swingers’ Night event at Shadows, she’s relieved that he’s human. However, upon learning that he’s not unattached, she’s not sure that she wants to see where the mutual interest leads. When Zac returns not once, but twice and refuses to be dissuaded by the way she treats him in two of her alternate forms, she gives in to her curiosity and goes home with him. Because she recently accompanied Nick on an undercover venture – in yet another form – she was aware that Zac was in the kink lifestyle, even if she didn’t actually know what that meant. I appreciated that not only did Roni ask questions about Zac and Hunter’s lifestyle throughout the entire book, but also that they encouraged her questions, answered them, and made sure that she understood the information they gave her. This helped to forge a bond of trust between the three that was apparent during their play scenes – scenes that I must say were freaking hot.

There was more of a suspense element in Barely Restrained than in the previous books because Roni’s past was literally stalking her – and while she knew who it was, her refusal to think about it in order to preserve her sanity meant the reader was kept in the dark for quite a while. But when her stalker puts Zac’s life in danger, he learns that Roni is not the same scared pet he controlled years ago and I will only say that Roni proved just how big and bad she could be. As much as I hated the punishment that she was dealt because she thwarted her attacker permanently, it did set the occasion for Zac and Hunter to take care of her and prove to her just how important she was to them – especially when they saw her true form (which sounded pretty creepy when she described it) and did not reject her as she feared they would. Their acceptance of her made it easier for Roni to accept their offer to start a life together – one I expect to hear more about in the next book in the series, Embracing Sin.


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