I was really surprised by Fettered. I didn’t expect anything bad, after all it’s Lyn Gala and I quite like her books, but I was surprised by how good this one was. I think that’s due to the more intense subject matter and how it’s handled. The concept and plot are good and the story isn’t afraid to delve into pretty dark areas. It’s also not afraid to show a kink that may not be for everyone but definitely works between the main characters. The writing is very good, but what really shone here are the characterizations. The various cast members all have shades of interesting gray and it definitely hooked me to want to read more.
The plot is somewhat complex – the best books usually are – but it revolves around 19 y/o Dilly wandering into a gay leather bar to try to understand his sudden cravings. His older brother has recently been arrested on rape charges and pictures of his BDSM tools make the news. Dilly is intrigued about these items and wonders how they’d feel so he heads to a gay bar to try to make it happen. There he meets 24 y/o Vin, a big bad Dom with a lot of issues. Although Vin is usually a play with them and leave them type of guy, he can’t help falling for Dilly.
There are a lot of characters in this story but Dilly, later Dylan, and Vin are the main couple. They work well together as Vin is a sadist with big control issues while Dilly is lacking a lot of spine and wants to be controlled in just about every single way. Dilly doesn’t come across as weak so much as ineffectual and needing that kind of guidance in his life. Vin doesn’t seem over the top, perhaps a bit extreme, but his needs fit well with Dilly’s wants and desires. Together their sex life is hot and plentiful while they support and encourage each other. My only qualms with these two are that Vin seems much, much, much older than 24. I had a hard time reconciling his relatively young age with the fact that he’s had two, very serious, long-term relationships since he’s been an adult. That gives him no room to really mature considering the details of those relationships. I constantly thought Vin was in late 20’s or early 30’s. Also Dilly is pretty immature at 19 and while that’s not to say it can’t be true love, I expect he’ll grow and change over time.
As for the secondary characters, they are very absorbing. To start with, Miss Dolphinia is remarkably fabulous while staying three-dimensional. She easily could have been a caricature but there’s some considerable depth and nuance to the character. This one impressed me quite a bit. She’s so well written and engaging. Unfortunately Dilly’s family is less well rounded but I appreciated the added dimension to them. They don’t feel rote or easy, but more so flawed in a very human, if aggravating, way. I did feel the resolution with the sister was too pat. It felt too easy considering everything and I didn’t really buy into her explanations for everything. That said, I really appreciated the considerable time spent on the family members to bring them to life. They’re not just pawns used to further the plot but essential people that have an affect on Dilly’s life and outlook.
The writing is very good, though not always the cleanest. I liked the imagery used, but sometimes I couldn’t envision the scene or details very well as the language got a bit twisted on itself. I would have to stop and really work out the scene in my head, for example when Dilly’s crawling around putting the file together, because I couldn’t quite get the picture from reading. However, these are minor issues for me since the characterization and more intense plot smoothed over any problems. I enjoyed reading this a lot and would recommend it for both fans of the author and those new to Gala’s writing. I may not read this one again but I hope there are some future books with these characters, or a new couple in the same world.