Ken and Mikko have overcome the hurdle of finding one another and coming to terms with the damage they both had done to their relationship. Happy to submit to Mikko’s rule, Ken has come a long way toward finding his own strength again and has decided he must officially end the relationship he’d left when he’d searched for Mikko. Awaiting Ken’s return is the hardest thing Mikko has ever had to do.
The solitude forces Mikko to come to terms with his own shortcomings, and confront his own past, the secrets he’s kept, and the effect they may have on his lover.
But when that same past knocks on their door, Mikko has to face the fact he might not be able to protect Ken any longer. Whether or not he finds the strength in himself to accept help may mean the difference between keeping their home and their lives safe or losing everything to the man Mikko thought they had escaped.
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Grounded is the sequel to Spinning, a book I totally adored. You really need to read the first book to understand all the complications presented in this second book. Yet I have to say even having re-read the first book, there is still so much going on in this second novella. The plot takes some weird turns and the world building seems to be fluid without any constraints or rules. The writing is still compelling and well crafted with some inspired scenes but overall this sequel feels too disconnected and scattered.
In the hanging ending of the first book, submissive Ken finally stopped running from his true love Mikko. Mikko came and took care of Ken, helping the man regain his emotional, physical, and mental health. Now Ken has left Mikko to be with his old lover for reasons unknown and Mikko is left waiting for Ken to return, if he returns. Ken does return after a few weeks but the two lovers are immediately embroiled in a fight with an angry wolf shifter with dangerous consequences. Be warned, there is no resolution to any of the issues in this offering either.
The plot is somewhat convoluted with so many threads and problems presented. The first is that Ken leaves Mikko to go back to his other lover. Now on the surface this isn’t too surprising since Ken spends the first book pining for his lover and despairing since that lover can’t dominate Ken like he needs. Mikko only came to take care of Ken and he knew the possibility that Ken may leave him for the lover. So the fact that Ken does is not surprising, out of character, or troublesome. Yet there is very little dialogue about Ken’s reasons and upon his return Ken is declaring his undying love and fidelity for Mikko. This feels close to disingenuous since Ken seems to bounce from one lover to the next. It feels like since he can’t have his other lover, he may as well be with Mikko.
The next problem is that Mikko dominates Ken sporadically. He begins and ends the novella taking ownership of Ken, yet Mikko shows some serious weakness that throws his domination into doubt. Mikko and Ken are very complex, very complicated characters with strength, weakness, fear, love, and charm. They are well suited to each other and have a great dynamic. Above all, they’re fun to read about and good together. Since the story is told from Mikko’s point of view, we’re shown his weaknesses rather blatantly. While I respected Mikko more for being a complicated man that’s not a stereotypical Dom, he never came across as the owner in his relationship to Ken. In fact Ken emerges as the more dominant of the two, which made the D/s dynamic awkward at times.
The world building once again fills the story but I couldn’t follow the lightning fast changes. The Ageless are now magical shape shifters apparently. This thread with Darien and others invading Ken’s home feels odd. It’s almost as if the rules of the world are changing to add more tension or perhaps being pieced out bit by bit. I could never get a firm grasp of what this urban fantasy world is like and what rules govern the beings. I couldn’t tell if the skills of the various characters were unique or simply one of many Ageless with those abilities. Additionally the evil henchman Morgan seems to change to suit the needs of the story’s tension.
Overall the story is compelling yet too frantic with way too much information crammed in for a mere 40 pages. The world building feels unstable, as if it could change at any moment to give another angle or problem. The characters feel undefined with the main romance no longer satisfying since it feels forced and unnatural as it is now with a sudden hanging ending, resolving nothing. It’s a Samms novella though, so the writing is very good, but the story simply doesn’t hold up unfortunately.
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