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?

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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.

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xx

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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

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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xx

Lean on Me (Club Shadowlands #4)

 

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Andrea wants to submit, but not to just any so-called Dom. He has to be tougher than the slum-bred bullies she grew up with. She’d given up finding a true Dom when her friend finagles her a place as a trainee in an exclusive BDSM club with the powerful Shadowlands Masters. Andrea’s thrilled…and terrified.

Forced to accept an unknown submissive into his carefully run trainee program, Master Cullen is furious. Not only is the young woman new to BDSM, but she’s unsuited to her role–armoured in leather like a Domme, she’s more liable to punch a Dom than kneel. He decides to push her right back out the door. But as he ruthlessly intimidates her, punishes her, then cuddles her, his glimpses of the woman inside the emotional armour intrigue him and her utter surrender captures his heart.

Although Master Cullen is famous for his unfettered lifestyle, Andrea believes he might be interested in her, until she discovers he’s not just a bartender–he’s a cop. Maybe he’d overlook her past brush with the law, but when another trainee accuses her of stealing money, Andrea knows she’s lost the Master she wanted with all her heart.

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Lean on Me is the fourth book in the Club Shadowlands series that I love so much. This is the first full length book in the series, and I am SO SO SO thankful that the author has made this switch, even if we do have to wait longer for a new book now. I feel like the longer stories enable her to include more complex plot lines, and let the romance between the hero/heroine unfold more naturally, although it is still a romance with a typical compressed timeline for falling in love.

Another benefit to longer books is that there is space to update the reader on the previous couples we have fallen in love with 🙂

At first, Andrea comes off as a super tough, butch female, but she has some definite insecurities that bring out all of Cullen’s protective Dom instincts. I love romance novels where both the male and the female develop and work through issues, and this is one of those books where I felt like their needs and growth were balanced.

Andrea struggles to submit, to trust, to not react with aggressiveness. Cullen has a rather ingenious method for helping her learn to control her aggressive reactions by setting her up with the other Masters in the Shadowlands.

*minor spoiler ahead*

The only concern that I had with this book was how quickly Cullen wrote Andrea off after she fell off the ladder, due to her inability to lean on others and ask for help. I understand why this is such an emotional trigger for him but I felt like he didn’t give her enough time to work on overcoming this or explain well enough why it was such a big deal to him. Even though he was there for her that night, he was so remote and closed off the next day, all “relationship over, no discussion”,

Kudos to Andrea that she was able to overcome her fears and reach out to him from the auction block because I don’t think that I would have been able to at that moment if I was in her place!

As always, an excellent story by Ms. Sinclair and I am definitely starting the next one tonight (I don’t “need” to sleep before work in the morning).