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
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.
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.”