Fenn Lockwood comes alive in the shadows. Though he might have physically survived the kidnapping that stole his childhood, the trauma and pain he lived through have marked him forever. Now the only place where Fenn can be himself is within the walls of his private BDSM world—a place of erotic obsession, where desire isn’t just captured . . . it’s bound.
Hayden Thorne knows that behind Fenn’s hardened exterior is a man worth fighting for. Yet to save him from the past that still haunts him, Hayden will have to abandon every inhibition she’s ever had and venture into Fenn’s intoxicatingly sensual world. Each tantalizing second she spends in Fenn’s searing embrace is more delicious than the last and soon Hayden begins to think that she may never want to leave such torturous bliss . . .
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Fenn Smith has lived his life as he has always wished, on a ranch with his adopted family, riding bulls and, answering to no one other than himself. Though the ranch is failing and he has taken some pretty bad falls, Fenn is determined to make things right. That is until Hayden Thorne walks into his life and turns everything ass over tea kettle.
On the outside, Hayden Thorne looks like a spoiled little princess but on the inside, she is screaming to be free. Hayden is well-educated, smart and totally willing to earn her way in the world yet her parents see her as nothing more than her future husband’s accessory. Finding Fenn Smith and bringing him home is Hayden’s chance to prove to everyone she is more than just a pretty accoutrement. What Hayden doesn’t expect is to fall totally and completely in love with Fenn, a man who is the answer to every question she has ever had about herself. There’s only one ginormous obstacle standing in Hayden’s way, Fenn Smith doesn’t know he is actually Fenn Lockwood, alive yet missing twin to Emery Lockwood and the target of an assassin.
Hayden does her best to explain the situation to Fenn but he is justifiably skeptical until the first and second attempt on his life is made. Coupled with the troubling “visions” he has had for most of his life, Fenn comes to not only believe but trust Hayden and her fantastical story. Adding to his trust and belief is the fact that Hayden is unlike any woman he has ever met and she calls to everything male and dominant in him. Fenn completely understands that Hayden walks a fine line between submissive and fiercely independent and if he is going to make her his own, he is going to have to find the balance between the two.
As the threat to Fenn increases, he makes the courageous decision to return “home” in order to be close to Emery and with any luck, shut down the threat to their lives. Accepting he is Fenn Lockwood means accepting a life that was stolen from him and facing a whole host of people who have spent the past quarter century mourning his loss. Within hours of returning to the family mansion, Fenn feels a great sense of acceptance and knows he is meant to be with Emery and his parents. The happy homecoming is, of course cut short as the twins and their women (Sophie and Hayden) are once again threatened. With stab wounds, gun shots and at least one explosion, the Lockwood boys and their women are in deep doo-doo but with each of them being highly motivated to survive, working together as a team and, a little help from their friends (go ahead, sing the song!) everyone may just pull through the whole mess.
The Bottom Line: With every pun in the world intended, The Gilded Cage works out the kinks I had issues with in book one, The Gilded Cuff. It helps immensely that I liked both Hayden and Fenn and wanted the best for them both from the very beginning. Fenn is my kind of hero, a rough guy who is not afraid of hard work and a little sweat with a soft side for the woman he loves. Fenn is kind, caring and willing to allow his rather independent submissive (ironic, right?) the freedom she needs to be herself. Hayden is just not your typical rich girl and that endeared her to me instantly. She fights against her parent’s antiquated ideas about what her life should be and forges ahead even when the consequences seem dire. She is a perfect partner for Fenn and the two of them together is really quite fantastic. Their interactions – both in bed and out – are so entertaining and I found myself wishing for even more between them to keep the read going. In all, The Gilded Cage certainly doesn’t fall into the dreaded sophomore slump and has my given me a renewed interest in this series. Next up is The Gilded Chain on October 13, 2015 and yes, I have already pre-ordered with 1-Click.
Excerpt from The Gilded Cage (Book #2: Surrender Series):
“Please Fenn, we really need to talk. Can I come inside for a minute?” She took a step forward. Coda whined softly from between his legs. Her blue eyes were bright and pale as glaciers. She looked oddly more…wolflike, with dark-tipped ears and a thick mane of fur around her neck rather than the trim ruff of a husky. Her nose was entirely white and the white patch spread up to frame her eyes in a heart shape. She was a beautiful creature.
A very sexy smile curved his lips. “Sure, come on in, honey,”
“Uh, thanks.” The way he said honey this time felt much more like a warning.
Fenn stepped back and allowed her to climb into the trailer. The husky backed up, too, still peering around her master’s knees, ears back, but no longer growling. Hayden let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. It was clear the dog no longer thought she was a threat.
Hayden loved animals, but her parents had never allowed her to have a pet. They ruined nice houses, at least according to her mother. Therefore she’d never spent much time around dogs, especially none like Coda, who looked like a wolf…one that could eat her.
“You want something to drink?” Fenn asked as he closed the door behind her.
A stack of empty bottles littered the tiny counter next to the sink.
“No thanks. I think you’ve had enough for the both of us,” she muttered.
“Probably true.” He sighed and lifted his jeans on the left side to show a tightly bandaged ankle. “Hurts real bad,” he explained with a curt nod at the beers and the half-full bottle of whisky.
“So…what can I do for you, Miss Red Dress?” He leered openly at her, but she caught the faintest playful hint of teasing in his gaze.
“Hayden. Please, call me Hayden.” She tried to move past him, but the cramped confines of the trailer wouldn’t allow her to pass without fully grinding her body against his. As she did so, she had to tilt her head back. He was the same height as his twin, six-foot-three, easy.
“Hayden,” he murmured, one of his hands coming to rest on her hip. His large palm squeezed lightly as she wriggled, fighting off the invasive touch. She was a little ticklish. When he touched her there, she flinched as a bolt of arousal shot from the tips of her breasts down to between her thighs.
The swift movement of her hips brought a sudden change in him. His eyes darkened and his lips parted as he drew in a deep breath, his grip tightening. Fenn pressed his body to hers, pinning her against the fridge behind her.
Trapped. She was trapped and it was the most erotic thing she’d ever experienced. Nothing at the Gilded Cuff had ever made her feel like this…flushed and all too aware of herself and his close proximity. Instinctively she tried to dart around him and escape. But there was nowhere to go.
“Where are you going? I thought that’s what you wanted. A buckle bunny looking for a good hard fu—”
Crack! She slapped him hard across his face before she could think twice, and his head whipped sideways. He didn’t move away, he only turned his face back to hers. There was a handprint-shaped mark on his cheek. He reached up and touched the spot, the intensity of his stare burning through her.
Wow. She was so not the violent type when she was angry, but to insinuate that she…oh yeah, slapping him was the appropriate reaction. She may go to a BDSM club frequently, she may do a few scenes with doms, but she rarely went all the way with those men. She didn’t just sleep around like that. When she went to bed with a man, she wanted a deeper connection. For him to call her a…what was it? Buckle bunny? Red tinged her vision as she seriously considered slapping him again.
“So that’s how you want to play?” His lips firmed into a hard line.
As he spoke, he reached up and collared her throat—not squeezing it, but the possessive hold was fully dominant. Little flutters of excitement stirred in the pit of her belly and a shiver rippled through her. Arousal pulsed to life between her thighs at the gentle domination. She tried to retreat, but couldn’t. He must have sensed her need to resist because he leaned over her, reminding her just how much taller he was. Her whole body flashed with heat and arousal at his silent show of power. It was impossible not to imagine him in full control of her: the way he might pin her down on the bed, his muscled arms twining with hers as he held her captive beneath him. Restrained for his pleasure, and hers. He was a natural dominant. It was obvious in every sweeping gaze, the flex of his muscles, the way he looked at her as if he could not only read her mind, but glimpse her soul. Another thing he and his twin apparently had in common. Dominant, alpha male instincts. She was a submissive but she’d not yet found a dominant who could top her and make her truly want to submit. The way Fenn stared at her, like he was furious and yet aroused, and the gentle grip on her throat? What if he unleashed all of that control on her? It was enough to make her light-headed.
Book #1: The Gilded Cuff:
Book #2: The Gilded Cage:
Book #3: The Gilded Chain:
About the author and where to find her:
Sign up for Lauren’s Newsletter at www.laurensmithbooks.com
Join Lauren’s Street Team: Lauren’s League