Hump Day Hunk with Rhyll Biest
I wanted to give the heroine in Unrestrained a hero (Stein) who was the antithesis of her. Holly gets very much caught up in what goes on inside her head (and what she thinks goes on in other people’s heads), so I pictured a hero who would rudely pull her out of her introverted introspection and make her focus on the external, sensual, physical world.
Stein is gritty as the bench he uses to carve headstones, and at first comes across as a rude, crude brute who gives zero fucks about playing nice. However, first impressions can be deceptive, and it turns out Stein knows his way around both a kitchen and a clitoris, and unexpectedly offers Holly some much-needed help.
I like to think Stein is a composite of the most dangerous offender known to womankind—a man capable of stealing a woman’s heart and ruining her for all other men in bed. Throw in a Germanic growl, some serious ink, a little kink, and hands and a body honed by hard work, and I’m as smitten as the heroine.
Holly’s first impression of Stein is seeing him in a racy photo on a lost iPad:
Below his dark hairline, the man’s nape gleamed pale and bare. Underneath, a jagged sea of midnight letters tumbled across his broad shoulders and the rugged invitation of his back. The punctuated flesh made her squirm and she wasn’t sure why. She couldn’t be turned on by that, could she? Not her, not with her distaste for tattoos and other forms of body modification that pierced the flesh.
An illegible tangle of ornate Gothic letters licked the knob of bone at the top of the man’s spine and winged out to each shoulder blade. What the hell did it say? She wrestled with the sinuous stream of font winding over muscle and bone, rolling out like a ribbon of road; the world’s best crossword puzzle ever, all for her.
With the screen view enlarged to its limits, she traced a fingertip over each letter, reduced to remedial reader status by the diabolical font. Her eyes grew dry and she had to blink. And realized she was reading German.
She made out one word: Gebunden. Bound. Her high-school German had come in handy after all. She took a moment to scan the café for the waitress, or, god forbid, an angry-looking iPad owner, then her greedy eyes glommed back onto the slab of muscle with its ribbon of letters. She followed each letter just for the hell of it, from one muscle to the next, from one sliced arc of definition to another. Forget the letters, his muscles spelled out a different word: sex. Imagine being in the same room with that man, tied to that bed, wondering what he was going to do next.
When the reclusive Holly Unthanks finds some very naughty photos, both the star—a muscular Teutonic god with some serious ink and a knack for knots—and the way he’s tied his lady friend to his four-poster bed, make her more than a little curious. But to get to know the big, built stonemason better, she’ll have to overcome his vengeful ex and her own inhibitions—and pray that the walls she’s built around her guarded heart and dark secret remain safe from a man who has a way with stone.