Master of the Dark Side

Master of the Dark Side is the fourth book in the Mountain Masters / Doms of Dark Haven series by Cherise Sinclair. It is a novella that was originally published in an anthology.

virgil

Real Doms terrify her, so Summer plays with lightweights only. And only in the safety of her club, Dark Haven. But on Western Night, the tough cop who wins her in a sub-roping game is as powerful as they come.

Virgil’s first taste of BDSM was disturbingly enticing. Hoping to burn out his interest, he visits an infamous San Francisco club, where he wins himself the prettiest little submissive he’s ever seen. He’s in a quandary. A man shouldn’t render a woman helpless, let alone spank her ass. But the nervous little submissive clearly loves being in his ropes. Her need to be controlled is as powerful as his need to control. So he indulges himself, and her.

That one night could be the beginning, but instead it’s the end. She won’t play outside the club and he lives too far to visit often. He’ll just have to find a way to forget her…or get her in his ropes to stay.

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Master of the Dark Side is the second novella in this series so far. Normally I don’t like novellas because I feel like too much of the story is missing, and the relationship doesn’t progress as naturally as it should because of the contracted timeline, but I have yet to dislike any book by Cherise Sinclair! She is that good.

My favourite thing about this story is that the dominant, Virgil, is completely new and his submissive Summer, while not exactly an expert, has been in the scene for a couple of years. Most of the D/s stories I come across feature a female submissive who is obnoxiously clueless about the lifestyle, many even believing that it is something imagined by romance authors to sell book, rather than a practice that actually happens in real life.

*face palm*

In the modern world of high-speed internet and sky-high erotica sales, I find it difficult to believe that most people are THAT naive.

So it is completely refreshing to watch as Virgil explores his dominant side, discover what he is comfortable with, and learns the art of bdsm. Virgil is a cop with strong protective instincts, especially for women, and he has to reconcile those instincts with his need to dominate, to control, to push.

Summer had a traumatic and abusive “scene” in Simon Says Mine when a shoddy Dom did not respect her safeword and literally beat her bloody. Thankfully she was rescued by Simon and Rona, but she hasn’t recovered emotionally from the scars. This creates a minefield for Virgil to navigate in their relationship, especially since bdsm scenes require trust and vulnerability – both physical and emotional.

I loved this short story and am glad that the author writes updates on previous couples into all her books, so we will get to see some more from Virgil and Summer sometime soon!

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Edge of the Enforcer

This is the sixth book in the Mountain Masters / Doms of Dark Haven series by Cherise Sinclair.edge

One sadist. One submissive.
One extraordinary love.

WELCOME TO DARK HAVEN
AND MAY ALL YOUR DARKEST WISHES COME TRUE

Fleeing false murder charges, Lindsey lands in San Francisco. There she builds a satisfying life until, in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she encounters deVries. Moth, meet flame.

A security specialist and occasional mercenary, deVries needs an adorable submissive like a knife to the gut. Hell, she’s not even a masochist. But here she is, all big brown eyes and sweet body and sassy mouth. Loyal. Tough-minded. Honest.

Or maybe not, considering her ID is forged. If she thinks to lie to him, she’ll learn better. He’s the Enforcer of Dark Haven—his discipline is absolute, his punishments harsh, and his heart untouched…until now.

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Ok, so Edge of the Enforcer is only the second book I’ve ever read where the hero is a sadist. I was slightly nervous about how I would like this hero who has always set my heart racing in the past (and not always in a good way) but I have read so many Cherise Sinclair books before that I trust her completely at this point. So that was reassuring and I was excited to jump back into the Mountain Masters/ Dark Haven world.

And I loved it!

Lindsey is so sweet and sassy and resilient. She is the perfect blend of heroic gumption and vulnerability and she and deVries are honestly a match made in heaven. I just finished reading this story a few days ago and I already am ready to start it all over again.

deVries (I refuse to call him Zander) is definitely the strong and silent type. He has a lot of hangups about his ex-wife that he lays on Lindsey at times, but he works through those issues over the course of the story. He doesn’t come across as sweet as some of the previous doms Sinclair has written, but I like this extra edge of danger to him. It fits his personality and mannerisms. And I always like to push the envelope of a hero / anti-hero.

Edge of the Enforcer introduces a few new kinks to me, particularly edge play (or knife play). While deVries is a sadist, Lindsey is NOT a masochist and it takes her a little bit to trust that he will stop at her limits, even though his go much further. It ups the intensity level in their play, but deVries always puts her needs and aftercare first.

I will say to any reader that is worried about the level of pain or “squickyness” in the book, you shouldn’t need to worry. If you liked other things I have recommended, you should also like this book. Ms. Sinclair always keeps safe, sane and consensual at the forefront of her scenes so everything is consensual, obviously, and you know the book will end happily ever after.

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My Liege of Dark Haven

My Liege is the fifth book in the Dark Haven / Mountain Masters series by Cherise Sinclair. This is an erotic romance series that is set in a bdsm club.

liege

Threatened by university cutbacks, Professor Abigail Bern’s only hope is to publish a provocative research paper–soon. Planning to covertly observe behaviour in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she takes a receptionist job. When the owner calls upon her to assist in a demonstration, she’s appalled. Then fascinated. Under the unyielding hands of the master known as my Liege, she discovers a need to be more than an observer.

His late wife had been the center of his life, and Xavier Leduc wants no other. But when his new receptionist does her utmost to keep an emotional distance from him, he’s intrigued and digs deeper. She’s adorable. Intriguingly intelligent, beautifully submissive, sweetly vulnerable. He soon realizes her defenses are keeping her on the fringe of her sexuality–and her life. As he draws her into fuller participation, she unconsciously does the same for him. She begins to fill his world.

Ever since the night she met my Liege Xavier, Abby has questioned everything she believes about herself. She’s falling for the stern owner of Dark Haven and thinks he’s beginning to care for her…until the day he learns why she’s in his club.

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Xavier is the owner of the BDSM club Dark Haven, which is set in San Francisco. He is basically the most alpha of all the alpha Doms who frequent the establishment and he needs all of that commanding presence to dominate Abby.

While very sweet and well-meaning, Abigail avoids conflict and any emotional outbursts at all costs, to the point that she has trouble even identifying her feelings during stressful or painful moments. As a result, she purposely wanders mentally during emotional bdsm scenes – and they are all emotional – trying to maintain the distance that is comfortable to her. This makes it hard for a Dom to keep control of the scene but Xavier is a master. Pun intended.

Abigail is exceedingly book-smart, but not very in tune with herself. After advancing ahead of classmates so many times growing up – she earns a doctorate by the time most people her age are finishing an undergrad – she is a little socially awkward, especially in romantic relationships.

Abby had no real intentions of ever joining into the play at Dark Haven. As far as she was concerned, she was attending the club to observe for research purposes, and to hopefully discover enough about the practices of D/s interactions to decide whether it was something she could attempt when her ex Nathan returned from a summer abroad. Her very first night there, Xavier blows this plan up, and he never stops drawing her into the scene after that.

Reading the chapters where Abby’s intention to write a published paper based on her observations at Dark Haven becomes known to her fellow kinksters – plus the fallout of this – are painful.

Reading from Abby’s POV, she feels so awkward and ashamed of herself and is afraid that she will lose Xavier and all of her new friends as a result. She feels misunderstood, and a little hurt that everyone immediately thinks the worst of her – that she is a spy on the inside determined to out them in public. Essentially, she needs to make restitution to Xavier but also to the general club membership in order to earn their forgiveness and trust back.

And this is very difficult and painful to do.

I won’t ruin the scene, because it is definitely something to read for yourself, but Abby’s punishment is very public within the club and something that I personally would dread as much as she does. It does make for very compelling reading though : )

I loved My Liege of Dark Haven just as much as I have loved the other books in this series and am excited to consider re-reading each as we get closer to the end of May and the release of the latest!

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