An Unlocked Mind

An Unlocked Mind  - Parker Williams, K.C. Wells Reviewed for Sinfully.

While this is Book 2 in the Secrets series, it also has its roots in [b:An Unlocked Heart|18076442|An Unlocked Heart (Collars and Cuffs, #1)|K.C. Wells||25381494] (Collars & Cuffs 1) and I think in order to have a good understanding of Rob Daniels, you need to read that first. If you’ve read An Unlocked Heart you probably already hate Rob, Alex’s, cold, calculating, manipulative, younger brother. The dedication of the book says it all:

"For all those who thought that Rob Daniels was an irredeemable little shit – We hope to change your minds."

When I found out the authors were writing a book about Rob, I knew they would have a tough time pulling me, and many other Alex and Leo fans, over to his side. He had no redeeming qualities and deserved to pay for the way he treated his brother. When you meet Rob here, it’s much of the same. He’s on his own, struggling to make ends meet, but is still a nasty piece of work.

Rob’s first meeting with Vic pretty much sums up the Rob we previously met, spewing gay slurs in a gay BDSM club and thinking he’s better than anyone there. Rob’s behavior initially puts Vic off, but Vic sees so much in Rob – anger, sadness and vulnerability. He also likes the strong will and determination he sees in the gorgeous boy who he can’t help being drawn to. When Rob continues to seek Vic out he decides that he knows just how to help the young man.

Rob is starved for affection and affirmation. He has a desire to belong somewhere, but he’s confused with emotions all over the place. He is also stuck in his own head, reliving the actions of his past even as he is trying to change and move forward. He passes the blame for his actions even as he admits to some of it, with his brother Alex a direct target of his anger. He also can’t believe that Vic would want to help someone like him who doesn’t deserve such kindness.

The story builds slowly. Rob is a mess and Vic needs to break him down and strip him of his old behaviors in order to build him up, but not break his spirit. Rob yearns for a fresh start and Vic is willing to offer that on his terms. Vic will take care of Rob, but Rob needs to learn to care for himself, working on his emotions and his mindset. These strangers must first become friends, and Rob needs to accept certain parts of himself he’s been working so hard to purge or deny, before anything more becomes of the relationship.

There are a lot of ups and downs for Rob. It’s hard to let go of feelings and beliefs he’s had for so long, but his desire to live up to what Vic sees in him eventually wins out. I admit it took me a while to feel good about Rob’s intentions and yes, I was eventually rooting for and won over by him. As for a showdown with Alex? I went into this book wanting to see Rob suffer, but by the time he’s ready to deal with what he did, I truly felt that he was ashamed and sorry for his actions. That doesn’t mean I didn’t smile a bit when Jarod initially reacts poorly to finding out who Rob is, but I think the reunion between the brothers played out nicely and realistically.

As far as the BDSM goes, it’s here but it’s not the main focus of the book. The authors in their prior books have covered many different aspects of BDSM and once again, Rob and Vic find something that works for them. As much as Rob settles though, he still has a mouthy way about him and Vic loves it as much as he loves punishing it. Vic reads Rob so well that he picks the perfect punishment and the perfect type of scenes, using sensory deprivation. It’s something very different from what I’ve read and while I don’t think personally it’s a favorite of mine, I did see exactly why it fit so well with Vic and Rob.

The story is really focused on Rob’s transformation and growth and him learning to trust Vic and trust his own nature. I loved seeing Jarod, and of course and Alex and Leo. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves a redemption story and a slow build romance between two opposites who are just what the other needs. The sexy times are there, the BDSM is there, but the focus is on the relationship building and, as much as I didn’t think it possible, turning Rob Daniels into a character I actually liked.