If Only (Shadowlands #8)

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After the last fiasco, Sally gives up. She’ll never find a Dom of her own. Instead the computer whizz is job hunting in between bending the law—just a bit—to unearth the bastards who’d enslaved her friends. The clueless cops and Feds obviously need help.

FBI special agents, Galen and Vance, have waited to play with Sally for a long time. When the mischievous submissive returns to the exclusive Shadowlands BDSM club after an ugly relationship, the experienced co-tops are pleased. Realizing she’s suppressing her emotions, the powerful Doms push her—only to find that her sassiness conceals a scarred and vulnerable heart.

Shaken by the unexpected emotional exposure, Sally flees the demanding Masters and the Shadowlands.

Both Galen and Vance have reasons not to seek a long-term submissive, but when a brutal attack by her ex-Dom sends Sally into their home, the two agents are driven to protect her. To help her. To take her under command. Falling in love isn’t in the plans.

But as the little imp brings light into their lives, they begin to want more…until they discover she’s hacked into an organization that delights in burning people alive.

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If Only is another exceptional story from the terrific Ms. Cherise Sinclair. It is a closed polyamorous relationship (MMf). The men consider each other (non-biological) brothers and are not gay. They do not have scenes with just each other, but do share the heroine, both together and in separate man-woman scenes. Essentially, Vance and Galen co-top and co-dom Sally who is their spirited, smart and bratty submissive.

I loved this book for a lot of reasons.

Firstly, Sally has been a supporting character since the very first Club Shadowlands book and she definitely deserved her own book and love interest this whole time. I love her and her story tore at my heart strings.

Secondly, often a series starts to plateau at this point and become repetitive but the author has done a great job at changing up the kinks and relationship types. For example, the previous book introduced the first S/m couple and this book is the first in the series to be MMf. There are multiple anal play/sex scenes in If Only, as well as fisting, which is new to the series.

Thirdly, the plot of this book will tie up the four book human trafficking arc that we’ve had going. It was great while it lasted but I am ready to move on. Thankfully the author saw this through without dragging it on forever and turning it into the basis of her series.

believe that If Only is also the first Shadowlands book where the heroine has safeworded during a scene. I love that the author brought this up and I hope she explores it more deeply in a future book. Although I love some aspects of romance novels, HEA and all, sometimes I hate that things tend to go along a little “too perfectly” or when all of the problems the characters face are external or from their pasts. In real life, Doms can’t read our minds and sometimes go too far (physically, emotionally, sexually) and the sub has to call “Red”. I’m glad it happened the first time (in this series) the way that it did and hope that the author will explore it during a more carnal scene eventually, because the aftermath for the characters would be delicious reading.

Cherise keeps enough humour in her books to keep the stories light, even when the subject matter is depressing, like taking down a human trafficking ring. After all, Sally has long been the club’s principle prankster, so you know she had to get into some type of trouble, especially when her Doms get grumpy from work. It is a submissive’s delight to cheer them up you know <evil grin>.

If Only also gives the reader some updates on other characters who have been quiet lately, especially Dan and Kari, who I LOVE. I highly recommend this book, but you should definitely read them in order. All seven previous instalments have reviews on this blog, and I will be catching up the rest before the newest book is released.

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Judgement Road (Torpedo Ink #1) – Christine Feehan

I was lucky enough to receive an arc from the publisher for Judgement Road, in return for an honest review. This book will be released on January 30th, 2018 and I highly recommend it!

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An outlaw motorcycle club sets up shop next door to Sea Haven in the dangerously sexy new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

As the enforcer of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, Reaper lives for riding and fighting. He’s a stone-cold killer who turns his wrath on those who deserve it. Feelings are a weakness he can’t afford–until a gorgeous bartender gets under his skin…

Near Sea Haven, the small town of Caspar has given Anya Rafferty a new lease on life. And she’s desperate to hold on to her job at the biker bar, even if the scariest member of the club seems to have it out for her. But Reaper’s imposing presence and smoldering looks just ratchet up the heat.

Anya’s touch is everything Reaper doesn’t want–and it brands him to the bone. But when her secrets catch up to her, Reaper will have to choose between Anya and his club–his heart and his soul.

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Judgement Road is the first official book in the Torpedo Ink MC series by Christine Feehan. It builds on the world first introduced in the Sea Haven novels (Drake Sisters and the Sisters of the Heart), but could be read as a standalone if you are not familiar with those series.

Judgement Road is everything Feehanistas have come to expect from the Queen of paranormal romance. There is a wonderful balance of main couple / background characters, action, sex, intrigue and sexy alpha bad boys.

The paranormal aspect of this book was toned way down in comparison to the Drakes and Sisters of the heart, to my surprise. This isn’t a criticism, I just expected more knowing that all of the MC members have “extra gifts”. There is some, but the book reads much more like romantic suspense novel than paranormal romance.

Other reviewers have pointed out that Reaper does something really stupid … like REALLY stupid … and that Anya forgives him too easily. I partially agree. I definitely would have liked for him to have to work harder to earn forgiveness. Ms. Feehan has a habit of letting her tortured heroes reveal their sob-story when they are in deep doodoo with the heroine, playing on her emotions to get themselves out of trouble which borders on emotional abuse in some situations. It definitely isn’t playing fair.

However, one of the strongest attributes these heroines share is their compassion and ability to forgive. If those personality traits weren’t at the forefront of their characters, these women could never take on such a damaged hero in the first place, so I am completely willing to let this point go for now, as long as it doesn’t reoccur in every book going forward.

The sex in this book isn’t overly explicit IMHO. There is definitely steam but I felt that the heat was solidly romance-level rather than erotica.

For Feehan aficionados, I am happy to report that the first chapter of Covert Game (her next book) is in the end of Judgement Road!

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This is who I am (Shadowlands #7)

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When trying to save a woman from slavers, Sam screwed up. Royally. Now Linda wants nothing to do with him. Or with BDSM. She won’t even admit she’s a masochist. As a dominant and sadist, he can give her what she needs, and when an opportunity arises, he slips into her life, intending to make amends. She’s everything he knew she would be…except for her bullheaded determination to be ‘normal’.

Now the horrible time is past, Linda just wants to return to her small conservative town, pick up her quiet life, and be normal. But how can someone who likes pain be ‘normal’? To her dismay, when someone spray-paints her home with obscenities, Sam shows up to rescue her. Again. Doesn’t he understand that the last thing she needs in her life is a sadist? He’s amused by her objections. But his dry sense of humor can’t disguise that he’s tough as nails and dominant and stubborn. He’s not going to let her drive him off this time. Soon she realizes she wants him to stay.

When he takes her to the Shadowlands, she feels as if she’s found a home…until she hears a voice from out of her nightmares.

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This is who I am was a huge surprise hit! I am not into S&M and had never read a book with this kink before, but I trust Sinclair more than any other author so I knew that I would still give Linda and Sam a go. True to form, Cherise Sinclair never disappoints!

One of the best things about the Shadowlands books is that we get to see previous couples and get updates on their lives. I’ll just say that this one has a very exciting wedding in it and I loved the special moment the bride and groom share before the ceremony.

Sam wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought he would be scary and grumpy a lot of the time. He definitely isn’t Mr. Personality, but I think Sam is way harder on himself than anyone else. He holds himself to a very high standard but isn’t an ass about it towards everyone around him, as most people tend to be. I loved his reflection that sadists tended to be more polite than most Doms, at least outside of a scene. Sam ALWAYS put Linda’s needs before his own, and isn’t too immature or macho to apologize when he messes up. I sincerely hope that this author writes some more sexy cowboys in the very near future.

Sam sighed. Sometimes he enjoyed his “eat babies for breakfast” reputation, but sometimes it got old. Eventually the girl would discover that sadists tended to be politer than regular Doms—at least, when not in a scene. After all, if a sadist was nasty, then how would he get anyone to play with him?

Sinclair, Cherise. This Is Who I Am (Masters of the Shadowlands Series Book 7) (p. 122). Loose Id LLC. Kindle Edition.

Linda gave a different perspective of a sub than any we have seen before. She is the oldest heroine I have blogged about to date and is very mothering. I love how she was able to let her hair down and have fun with the other Shadowkittens, working side by side as an equal partner in life with Sam – even while being his submissive in the bedroom – and she had an iron hard backbone when things go wrong. Linda isn’t a youngster to cry on the couch about how hard and unfair life is. She reminded me numerous times of the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

The S&M scenes in this book did not squirk me out at all. They were super hot. Drop your panties hot.

This is who I am helps to wind down the human trafficking plot line that has weaved the last few books together and while it has been very interesting, I am also ready for this series to move in a new direction. I don’t want to see it become a crime thriller. Although, those feds still haven’t partnered up with a Shadowkitten so I’m am sure the next book or two will contain the concluding threads ; )

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Crime Lord Series (Books 1-3)

Three years ago, Lyla fled from her ex, Gavin Pyre. She created a new identity and began a relationship with a man who knows nothing about her past. The normal life she built for herself is shattered when Gavin blackmails her into returning to Las Vegas where he rules the criminal underworld. As Lyla navigates through the dark secrets of her past she’s forced to face a man who refuses to let her live without him.

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I read all three of these books in one day. They are just slightly addictive.

Crime Lord is a series of mafia romance books. The first three tell the story of Gavin and Lyla. Gavin is the King of the Underground in Las Vegas.

I felt that these books got better as they went on. The first one was a little over-dramatic at times, and I kept waiting for Lyla to overcome her fear enough to show Gavin how she has changed in their three years apart, but she seems to just slide into her old role of silly, spoiled airhead. Despite her misery, she goes shopping, and has spa days and wears her old styles instead of updating her wardrobe to reflect the person she is now. I also expected her to pick up volunteering – since Gavin won’t let her work and she purports to miss it – but this doesn’t happen until the third book.

I don’t feel that these books are the best of the Mafia or dark romance genre, but they are still delicious reads that I greatly enjoyed. They certainly hit the spot and I will be reading more from this author as books are released. I’m glad that Ms. Knight has started to expand the series by giving background characters like Blade expanded roles, and also introducing more dark anti-heroes, like the Roman brothers and Lucifer.

The heat level of this series is a solid “romance” level but doesn’t pass into erotica, IMHO.

The author has announced that she is working on the fourth book in this series, but is finished with this couple for now. The next books will feature different anti-heroes/heroines and there are lots of yummy folks to choose from!

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To Command and to Collar (Shadowlands #6)

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Working with the FBI to capture human traffickers, Master Raoul scores an invitation to a slave auction. To his surprise, one slave is the kidnapped friend of a Shadowlands submissive. Although Kim’s body is scarred, her spirit is unbroken, and he can’t leave her behind. Ruining the FBI’s plans, he buys her.

Kimberly’s freedom has come at a devastating price: the other women are still imprisoned. Desperate to help the Feds locate the traffickers, she agrees to pose as Master Raoul’s slave. Although wearing a collar again is terrifying, Kim starts to heal and then to blossom under the powerful Dominant’s care.

“Submission.” It’s what she’s been drawn to–and fled from–her entire life. She has escaped the slavers who captured her body. Escaping the Master who has captured her heart will be far more difficult.

—                         —                        —

To command and to collar is one of my favourite books in the Shadowlands series. Although I would never be interested in a fulltime master/submissive relationship as the leading couple engage in, I love Raoul’s character and personality and have a mighty book crush on that man. I also share a number of personality traits with Kimberly, including her need for clear cut rules and expectations.

Something constricted inside him—she feared his control yet wanted it. How deep did her need run? Light submission…or complete? “The only consistency in the relationship is this: the master decides.”

“But—” Her shoulders hunched defensively.

“That makes you anxious, gatita. Why?”

“I won’t know… I need to know what—”

Did she fear arbitrary punishment? “We’ll go over what I expect from you. The rules. I will never punish you for something you didn’t know or didn’t understand, Kimberly. That isn’t my way.”

Some of the worry faded from her eyes. But not all. Her gaze was focused on the floor.

He considered what he knew of her. Not nearly enough. “I need to know…” she’d said. Needed to know what to do? Some people—and a high percentage of submissives—wanted clear-cut rules. Preferred their duties laid out, liked schedules and lists.

Sinclair, Cherise. To Command and Collar (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 6) (Kindle Locations 1029-1036). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Ms. Sinclair did an AMAZING job taking the hero/ine through such a difficult emotional journey. There was never any point that I felt she was rushing Kim’s recovery to the point that it was unbelievable or “too easy”. Although the pace was pushed by the plot timeline – which was the point of this undercover mission after all – I felt like Raoul and Kim were able to work through a number of her issues and understand the limits of BDSM in healing emotional abuse. Raoul had to walk a tightrope of emotional pitfalls by topping her during recovery and he did an amazing job, proof that he is a top Master, worthy of his Shadowland’s designation.

The sexiness in To Command and to Collar starts slower than is typical for this author, and that is expected because of the subject matter. The relationship between Raoul and Kim has to build emotionally before they become physical. But once the sexy times become, they are hot! I especially loved the fire play scene (this is one kink I have to try) and was giggling over Raoul’s “pervertables”.

The only qualm that I had was at the end of the book. Raoul was deeply wounded by his ex-wife and is reluctant to trust Kim’s assertions that she is able to live a full-time Master/submissive relationship. Raoul knows from experience that he can accept nothing less in his wife, and pushes her away because of this.

I felt that Raoul exhibited SO MUCH patience with Kim throughout the majority of the book, during the worst periods of her recovery, but then was unable to risk his heart and allow her the additional time to try his lifestyle for real, without the pressures of being undercover in an FBI investigation. Maybe he was just burnt out at this point, but it felt a little out of character and cold. I wish that the author has addressed his reasons a little more deeply if this was the case.

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2018 Reading Challenges

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Building on my post from yesterday, I wanted to take a moment to share the Book Riot and Popsugar Reading Challenges for 2018. You can click these links to access the editable/printable PDFs from their websites: Book Riot , PopSugar , and PopSugar Advanced.

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Personally I love doing these challenges. I don’t take them too seriously and I have never completely finished one but I think it is a fun way to push yourself to keep reading throughout the year and expand your horizons by trying books in new genres.

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I have noticed that my reading has expanded through these challenges and there are a few categories of books that I love to read now that I probably would have never tried otherwise.

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I hope you will join in me in at least one of these challenges this year.

Happy reading everyone!

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