Destiny Mine by Anna Zaires

** Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Fate made us enemies. I made us lovers.

In a different world, we were meant for each other.

This is not that world.

—                         —                         —

devoured this book. I love Anna Zaire’s novels so much and Destiny Mine was everything that we have come to love and expect from her. There was love, and passion … so much passion … and soldier/spy stuff and tender emotional moments.

Peter is as domineering as ever, even though he is fully in love with his sweet Ptichka.

Destiny Mine reminded me a lot of the original Twist Me series that inspired all of these spin-offs. The first book in this series is still my favourite, but I love the direction that the author is taking and there were some momentous scenes in this instalment.

Peter and Sara’s story does not end here. Be warned that there is another book coming in the series to finish it off, but I didn’t feel like this was a major cliffhanger either. I am fervently hoping that the conclusion will be released before the end of the year!!

I am also praying that Ms. Zaires will start writing about Anton, Yan, or Ilya right after. Yum!

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xx

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Beneath the Scars (Shadowlands #13)

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Josie doesn’t need any help raising her son.

Pregnant at sixteen, Josie learned the hard way about men and their empty promises. She picked herself up and is raising her eleven-year-old son. By herself. And that’s the way she intends it to stay. Unfortunately, her impressionable boy becomes fascinated by the scruffy, intimidating biker who lives next door.

The scars on Holt’s face are only the most visible of his wounds.

Out of the hospital after being attacked in his own damn house, Holt is coming to terms with the fact that his scars frighten people. Like his now-ex-girlfriend who ran after one look at him. Like his redheaded neighbor who hauled her boy away as if Holt was a serial killer. Fine. He’ll give the pretty bartender all the space she wants.

The Shadowlands will bring them together…

When Josie starts bartending in the exclusive, private club, she discovers her neighbor is a member. And a Master–a skilled powerful Dom who can make her fantasies come true. Slowly, the firefighter breaks down the walls around her heart, teaching her how to trust. How to love…

But when her son’s choices lead to disaster, can their relationship survive?

—                         —                         —

Okay, first off, I hate this cover. It was actually a turnoff for me reading this book but I love the author and the series, so I knew better than to judge it by its cover.

That being said …

We have on our hands yet another fabulous Shadowlands story from Ms. Sinclair.

Beneath the Scars starts off much slower with the sex and BDSM than most of the books in this series have. Josie is new to the club and her first real scene occurs more than a quarter of the way into the book.

I love that the author has created a single mom romance, which is something I have been hoping she would do for a few years now. I also appreciate that the son wasn’t always full of warm and fuzzy feelings towards Holt. I felt that this is a fairly realistic portrayal of a new family forming, with all the ups and downs and stumbles that go along with.

I have become used to this author introducing a new kink in every one of her books. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one introduced in Beneath the Scars and I really missed this aspect. It was something that I had expected and looked forward to, so I kept waiting for this scene to happen.

The romance between Holt and Josie is more of a slow burn than an eruption of passion. They are immediately attracted to one another but move slowly due to a number of circumstances. Holt is heavily into bondage but there was limited use of other toys or kinks in this book. I feel that this book is closer to “romance” than erotica, at least compared to the others in the series.

Overall, a solid addition to the series and one I will definitely read again, but it didn’t completely fill up my bucket.

* * * *

xx

Sold to the Billionaire (Emily Tilton)

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As the daughter of the prime minister, eighteen-year-old Heather Gerber is used to society’s high expectations, until the day her entire world is radically changed in an instant and she becomes little more than property to be bought, sold, and used in any manner her future owner sees fit.

Brought to the Institute to be prepared for her eventual sale, Heather quickly finds herself naked, blushing, and helplessly aroused as she is thoroughly and painfully spanked by stern, handsome trainer Paul Federico. But though Paul knows that Heather will soon belong to a powerful billionaire, as he teaches her what it means to surrender her virgin body to a dominant man he cannot help falling for the beautiful, innocent girl. Can he find a way to claim her for his own?

—                         —                         —

Sold to the Billionaire is a short novel by Emily Tilton. It is set during an alternate world, in a small country set in contemporary Ontario, Canada. There are scenes involving consensual non-consent, spanking, and anal sex.

I found this story to be extremely confusing and disjointed. It is part of a series (“The Institute Series”) but it was marketed as being easy to read as a standalone – no prior knowledge of the series necessary. This was not the case at all.

The book blurb available on Goodreads and Amazon insinuates that the story will be about two main characters, Heather and Paul. I didn’t find this to be accurate. In fact, the first intimate scenes are about Heather’s parents, which for me is just icky. I don’t want to read about the parents and the child/dren having sex, even though there is nothing between them (no incest). The POV character changes multiple times. I can think of at least five off the top of my head.

I also strongly disliked that there are scenes where female characters are raped and enjoy it. It is one thing to incorporate consensual nonconsent within a bdsm scene, but this is not the case.

Finally, this backstory that Ms. Tilton created to explain this alternate world was overly complicated. It could have been explained much more succinctly and simply, so the author could get down to the real business of the story.

Overall, not a story I would recommend.

*

xx

Mischief and the Masters (Shadowlands #12)

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She wants a short, sweet Master. One Master.

The two devastatingly dominant Drago cousins have other ideas.

Her life destroyed by a stalker, Uzuri Cheval starts anew in Tampa and joins the exclusive Shadowlands club. Unconvinced of her claims that she can overcome her fear of big men without help, Master Z gives her a time limit. And she is improving–until she hears the stalker is out of prison. Now her time limit is up, and the Masters will intervene, which is okay–as long as whoever helps her is short. Okay, sweet and gentle would be good, too.

But two Doms? Dangerously experienced and dauntingly powerful cousins? No way.

Having volunteered in every hellhole in the world, Dr. Alastair Drago is ready to settle down. Detective Max Drago has joined him and, once again, the cousins share everything. A house, lives, problems…and whatever submissive catches their interest. One mischievous submissive has definitely caught Alastair’s. However, having been burned by a woman, Max remains detached…until little mischief’s troubles turn deadly.

—                         —                         —

Uzuri refers to her Doms as “Dragon Doms”, a play on their last name of Drago, but I kept remembering Sally’s preferred phrase, “Demon Doms” and using that instead. These two definitely keep a girl on her toes!

The first time that I read this book I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. I read it last summer while there was lots of racial BS going on in the US. I am not American and although racial tension can be found everywhere in the world, where I live, we don’t seem to have problems like the US does. Regardless, American news dominates everywhere (especially in the Trump era) and I was damn tired of reading about racial issues. I definitely wasn’t happy to find it addressed in my erotica.

But time is a sweet cure for all things.

Media coverage of this issue isn’t bombarding me 24/7 anymore and on a second read of Mischief and the Masters, I realized that there isn’t as much “lecturing” in it as I felt on the first read.

Uzuri and Alistair are both biracial with white fathers and black mothers. Alistair’s cousin Max is white. The three enter into an exclusive DDs polyamorous relationship (similar to how it works between Sally and her doms in If Only.

I did enjoy this book much more on the second take. I appreciate the author have biracial characters and relationships in her books and although I still feel that certain sections were written with the political climate in mind, I can get past that and just enjoy the story at this point. Ms. Sinclair is currently writing the 13th book in the Shadowlands series, and has announced it should be out in Spring 2018. It’s February now so I’m thinking an April release date sounds about right. Can’t wait!

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xx

 

Protecting His Own (Shadowlands #11)

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Landscape designer, Beth King survived an abusive husband and built a new life for herself with the help of Master Nolan, the strongest, most protective man she has ever known. She loves him with all her heart, but the one thing he wants, she can’t give him. To her grief, the damage from her abusive first marriage means she can’t bear him children.

As Beth and Nolan change their plans and pursue adoption, they’re already imagining a baby girl in the nursery. But when two boys from the local domestic violence shelter see their mother taken to the hospital, they call Beth in a panic. Agreeing to care for them temporarily, Beth soon falls in love with the two adorable boys.

Now Master Nolan has a new problem. How can he protect the children when their drug-addicted mother is released—and how the hell can he keep his sweet submissive’s heart from being broken when they leave?

—                         —                         —

This is the 11th book in the Club Shadowlands series but the second book about Nolan and Beth. Book #3 is called Breaking Free and it tells the story of the two meeting and falling in love. Alas, it was a short novel, and I am super excited that Ms. Sinclair has FINALLY written a followup story. I always felt that we never got the full story from Nolan and Beth and we definitely did not get enough time with this strict and sexy full-time Dom.

To Protect His Own is a sweeter story than I am used to – and although there are multiple kinky scenes – it is more focused on family and relationships than on intimacy and sex.

There’s still enough time to introduce a new kink though – mummification!!

Fostering and adoption are topics that are near and dear to my heart. I loved seeing them included in a romance novel. Life isn’t all rose petals. Sometimes past abuses leave an enduring mark, physically and emotionally. Thankfully Beth has a devoted Master to help see her through them and together they have more than enough love for a couple of kids who haven’t had nearly enough of it in their short lives.

To Protect His Own has a unique plot that is a welcome change from the criminal romantic suspense that has been so popular lately. No bad guys chasing down the heroine, no undercover police operations … just love finding a way through bureaucracy and bullshit.

* * * * *

xx

Show Me Baby (Shadowlands #9)

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A Masters of the Shadowlands Novella

After his last lover chose her career over him, Jake knows he wants a woman who will put him at the top of her priorities—as he would with her. One of the trainees, Rainie, has caught his attention. Lush body, a gift for living life to the fullest, always laughing or smiling. Yeah. She trips all his switches. But she’s never given him a second look and that’s damned annoying.

Rainie has been burned enough times that she’s not going to get serious about any man. Sure, the BDSM club trainees are supposed to be looking for a permanent Dom, but no harm, no foul—they don’t need to know she lied. Trainees get to be involved in everything—and with everyone. But there’s one she avoids. Master Jake is always frowning at her. No matter how gorgeous he is, she doesn’t need any disapproving Dom up in her business.

Unfortunately, her best friends are having a double wedding. Little hearts are floating in the air. Every breath is filled with romance. Rainie is doomed.

—                         —                         —

Show Me, Baby is supposed to be a novella but it is too long IMHO. I’d rate it more of a short novel which is great because I hate romantic novellas – they are too short for the love to unfurl and blossom.

Oh God, I’m waxing poetic.

Rainie is a BBW. I love that the author includes heroines who are a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Any woman reading these stories will be able to find someone who matches their body type.

Jake and Rainie have both been on the proximity of past Shadowlands stories for a while now, so I am glad that they are getting their stories told. I would also love to read about Uzuri, Anne, Saxon, Holt, Karl and Edward if anyone happens to have the author’s ear.

I reviewed the tenth book in the series, Servicing the Target, back when it was first released, so my next post will be skipping ahead to #11, Protecting His Own and then I will almost be caught up in this series!

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xx

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.

—                         —                         —

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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xx