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Book Review: The Hampton Road Club #1-2, by Morticia Knight

Hesitant Heart - Morticia Knight The Rules of Love - Morticia Knight

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Book 1: Hesitant Heart

Sam is a naïve young man who arrives in Hollywood to escape his brutal father. When the older, sophisticated Aaron rescues him, Sam discovers what it means to fully surrender himself to another.

Eighteen year-old Sam Cunningham is used to living with lots of secrets. He’s had to hide his true nature his entire life or else incur the wrath of his strict and abusive father. When he’s faced with a horrible ultimatum, he flees to Hollywood where he hopes he can escape the fate his father has planned for him.

Aaron Rubenstein is a wealthy and sophisticated man who loses himself in painting portraits of bound men to help stave off his loneliness and despair. Unable to find a lasting connection with anyone, he’s had to resort to paying lovers not only for their affections, but to be allowed to indulge in his darker passions. Aaron’s only respite is his nights at the Hampton Road sadomasochism club where he’s a respected Dominant.

Naïve and inexperienced in the ways men can please one another, Sam takes a job at a bathhouse where he first glimpses a beautiful older man. Aaron notices the sweet towel boy watching him with interest every time he patronizes the Temple of Eros bathhouse. A traumatic incident for the innocent towel boy triggers Aaron’s protective tendencies and he’s compelled to rescue the gentle Sam from the clutches of the Temple’s manager.

They embark on a journey together that teaches them both things about themselves that they never knew. As their bond deepens and Sam is trained for his first night at the Hampton Road Club, an unknown danger lurks. Will Sam’s father find him and destroy both men’s chance for true happiness together? Or will Aaron protect his boy and keep him for always?

Reader advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

Book 2: The Rules of Love

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.

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Book 1: Hesitant Heart

Book – Hesitant Heart (The Hampton Road Club #1)

Author – Morticia Knight

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 174

Cover – Nice!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, BDSM, Romance, 1920’s

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY TOTALLY BOUND, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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Warnings: BDSM elements (spanking, obedience, club, pain play), Rent Boys, Homophobia, Parental abuse

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Wow!

Now, normally I’d have at least 2 dozen notes and highlights from reading to use as my review. Not in this case. Why? Because I was so engrossed from page one that I didn’t want to stop, not even to make notes or make out great quotes. Once I delved into the belly of the beast, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Quite simply, there was nothing I didn’t love about this book.

The historical accuracy of the 1920’s lifestyle for gay men was so well explored and explained that even if I hadn’t already known how dangerous and hard it was for gay men to live their lives in that time, I would have understood the risks from the story. It was never over-emphasised or exaggerated, but stated in that simple, tolerated way that all gay men had to tolerate the laws and rules of modern living back then.

As for characters, I quickly fell in love with both Sam and Aaron. Together, they weer magnificent and beautiful. Separately, Sam was so innocent and adorable, naive but so willing to learn; Aaron was strong, but gentle and so ready to lead Sam into this unknown world at a pace he deserved. The way they let each other get used to their lifestyle, to the lessons and the changes in their relationship was wonderful. Right from the start, the chemistry was palpable, but beyond that – and most importantly – they communicated, loved each other and openly participated in every aspect of their relationship as equals!

One of the best BDSM novels I’ve read. Ever.

From the writing to the characterisation, to the pulse-racing anticipation, it was perfection from beginning to end.

“As Aaron descended on him, Sam held his breath. He’d yearned to share a kiss with a man for so long, he thought he might faint from anticipation.” ~ You and me both, Sam. You and me both.

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Book 2: The Rules of Love

Book – The Rules of Love (The Hampton Road Club #2)

Author – Morticia Knight

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 143

Cover – Nice!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, BDSM, Romance, 1920’s

.

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY TOTALLY BOUND, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

.

Warnings: BDSM elements (spanking, obedience, club, pain play), Violence, Dub-con, spousal/partner abuse, foot fetish

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Another one knocked right out the park! I can tell, only one the second book, that this is going to be one of my favourite series ever.

Once again, Knight has so very brutally, but brilliantly, told the truth of what it was like to be a gay man in the 1920’s era. Not just with the need for secrecy, even in urgent medical instances, but also in cases of domestic violence, which lie at the very heart of the story. Revealing the violence is as good as shackling themselves in jail or worse. And knowing this, both abuser and abused know that the situation can never be fully resolved without more suffering.

My heart broke for Kenneth. Yes, this is a May/December romance, with a 15-20 year age gap, but that really didn’t have anything to do with their relationship. Poor Kenneth was beaten, abused and at the end of his emotional rope. It was very difficult to read his scenes with Preston, knowing that he wasn’t offering consent, but that he suffered it because he felt he had no other choice. Sadly, it’s also another piece of genius characterisation and writing on Knight’s part, as this is unfortunately what does happen to submissives out in the world. They give their heart and their will to the wrong person, who doesn’t love or respect that decision, but uses it to hurt them as much as possible, instead.

The wonderful thing about Kenneth is his resilience and how he once knew a good, supporting and loving Master, who has given him hope and trust that others can be better than Preston has been to him, so far. With that hope, he discovers a fantasy world, where Saul is his Master instead, that manages to keep him strong and offers him an escape from his pain. Then, the real Saul comes along and there are immediate sparks. The chemistry between them is off the charts and there was nothing but relief when they finally saw each other and the future they could offer each other.

Kenneth, for me, is a much more hopeless, innocent version of Sam, with an inner strength that is admirable. Saul is a little less Dominant than Aaron was, though still knowing how to handle his sub. He’s much more willing to let Kenneth’s emotional and physical wellbeing set the pace of their relationship, even if Kenneth doesn’t agree with that. The way they discover that escaping to a sub-space to protect his emotional wellbeing with Preston has actually done more harm, is incredible.

Though tackling some much tougher issues than book 1, the way that Knight handled the abuse was wonderful. Not only did I feel every ounce of Kenneth’s pain and relief, but the abuse was never glossed over, even after the rescue. The physical and emotional scars were still there; they still needed to be explored and acknowledged, because things like that don’t ever disappear. And Knight’s handling of that was excellent.

And, I’ll admit, I loved getting to see Aaron and Sam again, to see more of Theodore and Francesco, too.

It is so rare to find a second book in a series that can rival book 1 for being the best. I’m happy to settle for saying that both books are equally brilliant.

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Favourite Quote

Home.

Kenneth hung his head as he gathered his clothes then did as he’d been told. Some words held promises that could never be realized.”

“Dead or alive, he knew his life with Preston Cornwall was over.”

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One thought on “Book Review: The Hampton Road Club #1-2, by Morticia Knight

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