A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.
Book 2 of the Pleasure Code Series
After the loss of her Dom and first love two years ago, the time has come for Kyla to again allow herself the pleasure of giving up control. She isn’t looking for anything serious yet, just the comforting embrace of rope and a firm hand on her body for the night.
Rope-top Sawyer is extremely skilled and he doesn’t do relationships—but he’s fascinated by the gymnastics instructor who approaches him at a kink con. By the end of the day he’s vowed to help her feel submissive pleasure again, and to introduce her to a few Doms she can choose from.
But as Sawyer breaks down Kyla’s emotional defenses, his barriers also come down. Soon he can’t imagine giving Kyla over to any other Dom—and Kyla can’t imagine being with anyone else. When their feelings are put to the ultimate test, they’ll learn that while taking risks in the bedroom is easy, taking risks in love is terrifying.
I quite enjoyed WICKED WEEKEND, the first book in Gillian Archer’s Pleasure Code series, so I was glad to see the series would continue with Sawyer, the snarky and infamous rope bondage expert who was the good friend of Jamie, the hero in that first book. Best of all, UP IN KNOTS is a full-length book (unlike the previous novella) so I was excited at the prospect of reading a fully realized romance from start to finish.
UP IN KNOTS begins with our introduction to Kyla, a former nationally ranked gymnast who now teaches tumbling to young children along with her younger sister, while continuing to mourn the loss of the only man who had been both her true love and perfect Dom. It’s been two long years since Adam fell to his death from a construction scaffold, and Kyla has finally decided it’s time to seek out another Dom for the kink she’s missed since then. She’s always had a crush on Sawyer – the most famous rope top in Vegas – but never thought she’d ever meet him, let alone get a chance to be his sub. But when they meet by chance at the local kink con, it seems like her perfect opportunity to embrace a new kink and a new life, if she can just leave the past behind.
We already saw in WICKED WEEKEND just how well known Sawyer is in the Vegas kink community, and how dismissive he is of any emotional commitments. When Kyla arrives alone for his Rope Bondage for Couples class, it seems obvious that she should be his subject for instruction purposes. The immediate attraction between them makes it only natural that Sawyer would want to spend a bit more time getting to enjoy her, if only for the night. When their first D/s scene results in an emotional reaction from Kyla, Sawyer decides that he’s the best one to help her back into the lifestyle, and then find someone good for her to be with once she’s healed. But as time passes and they grow closer, he refuses to admit that the person who is best for her is him, even if it ends up breaking both their hearts.
Ninety-nine percent of UP IN KNOTS was an intensely exquisite read for me, as Sawyer pushed Kyla’s kink limits, while Kyla pushed right back on Sawyer’s commitment limits. She had lost her first great love, to be sure, but what Sawyer gave her was exactly what she needed to heal from her loss and become open to love again. Yet even as Kyla continued to hold nothing back in her pursuit of new happiness, Sawyer continued to pull away even as he knew that Kyla was someone he didn’t really want to ever let go. There was a pivotal scene in UP IN KNOTS where Sawyer had planned to hand Kyla over to Grayden, his good friend and fellow Dom. As the intimate scene between the three of them played out, Sawyer’s possessiveness over Kyla overtook his original intent, resulting in anger and confusion for all. But it was only when Sawyer’s carelessness with his own safety landed him in the hospital that Kyla finally found her own moment of clarity. It was then that she not only came to terms with Adam’s death but also her feelings for Sawyer and knew what she had to do for her own self-preservation. Her next action set up what I anticipated would be the perfect romantic ending for Sawyer and Kyla, one where they would openly admit that they loved each other and have their HEA/HFN at last.
The ending is where I felt let down by UP IN KNOTS. If you don’t want to know how it ends, don’t click the spoiler button.View Spoiler »After her confrontation with Sawyer in the ER, Kyla avoids seeing him until he’s home from the hospital. Then she goes over to his house to let him know that she doesn’t want him to introduce her to other Doms and she can’t continue the “lighthearted fun thing” with him because she wants more from him and it scares her. As she starts to walk away for good, Sawyer stops her. He tells her that he’s called his mother (after being estranged from his family for years), that he’s going to take better care of himself (he’ll wear his seatbelt from now on), and that he won’t be selling the house after all (he’s a house flipper) because he wants “his girl” to be in a comfortable bed with him. So he and Kyla go in his house and he says he’s going to teach her to doubt his word once he’s recovered. And that’s the end! No “I love you” exchange, just Sawyer deciding he doesn’t want them to break up. That’s it. Disappointed! « Hide Spoiler
I don’t expect every romance to end with a marriage proposal (or god forbid, a baby epilogue) but after 200+ wonderful pages of two broken souls working their way to each other through kink, I guess I expected more of an ending than what I got. I’m still glad I read UP IN KNOTS, though, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a hefty dose of kink with their erotic romance. I also hope there will be another Pleasure Code book and that we’ll get to see more of Sawyer and Kyla then. 4 stars