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?

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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.

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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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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.

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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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Dark Citadel (Shadowlands #2)

This book takes place a couple of months after the first book, Club Shadowlands. While not absolutely necessary, it would be best if these books were read in order.

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After Kari breaks up with her date during Beginner’s Night at Club Shadowlands, she’s given the option to continue with an experienced dominant. Despite her steamy fantasies about BDSM, the inexperienced schoolteacher plans to simply observe. Yet under the unyielding hands of Master Dan, she not only participates, but gives him everything he asks for. There is nothing she can hide from him. Not her passion…or her love.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and content (including/not limited to bondage, caning, restraint, spanking, tethering) exhibitionism, voyeurism.

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Well Kari is officially my hero! This goody two shoes teacher who is as sweet as can be signs up to take BDSM classes at the local kink club with her sorta boyfriend, and when he acts like a jerk, decides to leave him and carry on with the classes on her own!

That takes some guts. It is also where she meets the love of her life, “Master Dan”, an instructor in the class who agrees to be her partner. He guides her into the kink-filled world of Club Shadowlands. And he certainly doesn’t waste any time finding out what kinks innocent little Kari would like to try out.

Kari felt herself turn red.

“Well, she has fantasies.” He grinned. “Good. A gorgeous barbarian chasing you down and taking you against your will? Have you had that one?”

“I—” She bit her lower lip. Was she wearing an I-have-kinky-dreams brand or something?

“I would enjoy chasing you; I wonder if you’d enjoy being caught?”

Sinclair, Cherise. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 2) (Kindle Locations 275-278). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Master Dan has quite the hot temper but this is tempered by his strong protective instincts, instincts that are only exacerbated by his dominant nature and homicide detective career.

He also has a sense of humour, and an alarming ability to work his way back into Kari’s heart when he messes up.

She could just imagine, all her friends and family mourning around her grave. The tombstone would read Kari Wagner, Died of Sheer Stupidity… [on the other hand], It would be almost as bad to have her grave marker read Died of Terminal Bedroom Boredom.

Sinclair, Cherise. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 2) (Kindle Locations 190-192). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Dark Citadel is a short novel, about the same length as the first in the series. Thankfully characters repeatedly show up in later books as a part of the supporting cast, because I definitely did not get enough of Dan and Kari.

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Obsession Mine by Anna Zaires

This is the second book in the trilogy. To read my preview of book one, please click here.

Obsession Mine is available for pre-order today and will be released on 14th November 2017. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I stole her in the night. Caged her because I can’t live without her. She’s my love, my addiction, my obsession.

I will do anything to keep Sara mine.

—                         —                         —

Anna Zaires is the reigning Queen of dark romance in my world. I loved her Twist Me and Capture Me series, and now the current WIP has stolen top spot.

I absolutely loved both Tormentor Mine and Obsession Mine. This book starts off immediately from where the previous one ends, which is certainly an action-packed couple of chapters, as Peter is kidnapping Sara, stealing her away from the world!

Sara becomes a true captive of Peter, even more so than when he was living in her house because he has taken her away from her family, her friends and her patients. I think that the lack of work is the hardest to adjust to for Sara. She is a workaholic who fills emotional needs through her efforts as an OB-GYN and to suddenly have days that are mostly empty is difficult to reconcile, especially given the circumstances.

It is difficult to believe, but the sex just gets hotter in this instalment! And it is now beyond obvious that there will be a third concluding book in this trilogy, something I was hoping for though it also means having to suffer through the months of waiting for the conclusion. Anna, please write quickly!

Some of the sex in Obsession Mine is of dubious consent and there is an oral rape scene. Please read the tags for this blog post if you are concerned about triggers.

The only thing that struck me as odd in this book is the limited amount of time spent developing relationships between Sara and Peter’s team, in the first half of the story at least. I expected them to have more interaction right off given the circumstances and hope those secondary characters will be expanded on in the next book because they all deserve their own trilogies!

I also really wanted Sara to have a full-fledged freak-out at some point, and the bathtub scene on her first day at the safe house seemed perfect. Readers of the first book will remember that before Peter and Sara became romantically entangled, he tortured her for information, and part of this was him water-boarding her. She has PTSD and an angry Peter standing over her in the bathtub should have triggered this.

Otherwise, an exceptional book that I will be re-reading again and again while I wait for the concluding part in this series!

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Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 1)

Cherise Sinclair has been my favourite author for the last year or two, especially lately. I stumbled upon Club Shadowlands when she only had four published novels, and burned through those in a week. Ever since, it seems I have been anxiously waiting for the next book. Cherise Sinclair, the Queen of Tease 😉

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Her car disabled during a tropical storm, Jessica Randall discovers the isolated house where she’s sheltering is a private bondage club. At first shocked, she soon becomes aroused watching the interactions between the Doms and their subs. But she’s a professional woman–an accountant–and surely isn’t a submissive…is she?

Master Z hasn’t been so attracted to a woman in years. But the little sub who has wandered into his club intrigues him. She’s intelligent. Reserved. Conservative. After he discovers her interest in BDSM, he can’t resist tying her up and unleashing the passion she hides within.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, strong BDSM theme and content (including/not limited to bondage, caning, restraints, spanking, etc), exhibitionism, voyeurism.

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Club Shadowlands is a fantastic introductory story for someone who is new to erotica, and especially for those who are new to BDSM. I adore Sinclair’s writing style, steamy sex scenes and well thought out plot lines. Things rarely feel contrived or forced in a Cherise Sinclair novel.

Another reason why she is my go-to recommendation for those dipping their toe in to the kink pond is that Sinclair’s books contain informative explanations about bdsm, with healthy relationships that are based on consensual scenes. I asked her once about this on social media and she explained that she tries to introduce a new kink in every book, so I really feel like these books serve as stepping stones into the bdsm community. If you are a newbie, like I was when I discovered Club Shadowlands, you will get a great introduction to different kinks and relationship types, without feeling like you are reading something educational.

Early on in Club Shadowlands, the heroine makes a comparison to her adventure into the club, likening it to a kinky Alice in Wonderland experience which is both hilarious and apt. There are sprinkles of humour throughout although I wouldn’t describe this as a funny book, but I love Jessica’s matter of fact way of looking at the world and her clear, unmuddled emotions.

Club Shadowlands is novella length, but you get updates on the couple throughout the series so it doesn’t feel like they have been short changed at all. Indeed, several of the books in the beginning of this series are shorter, and as the author became more comfortable (and as readers demanded longer tales), they gradually grew in length.

“Z”, the hero of the story and the owner of the bdsm club Jessica stumbles into is a mind-reader, military vet and current psychologist. I adore him and his mind-reading ability is more of a quirky plus in the series, rather than a lead-in two a whole new range of paranormal.

Club Shadowlands is Free on amazon so try it out! There are lots of books out in this series if you decide you love it as much as I do, which I can pretty much guarantee if you like the majority of other books that I blog about.

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Master of the Abyss

Master of the Abyss is the second book in the Mountain Masters / Dark Haven bdsm series by Cherise Sinclair.

On the mountain, the watcher seeks out evil women. And then they die.

Two years ago, when Jake Hunt uncollared his slave, she committed suicide. Guilt-ridden, he will commit to a woman for one night only, devoting his energy to a mountain lodge that caters to a BDSM crowd.

Kallie Masterson is tough. Unwanted as a child, she worked hard to become a wilderness guide. She’s proud of who she is, and hurt that Jake frowns on her for acting like a man.

After rescuing the macho guide from a bar fight, Jake is stunned that the ugly men’s clothing hides a warm, responsive woman. A submissive woman. When guide business brings her to the lodge on BDSM night, and she is obviously aroused by the play, Jake takes the little sub right into his world of pain and pleasure. He warns her: one-night-only. But she responds so beautifully–so joyously–under his command, that one night soon becomes two, then three…

Then a missing hiker reminds Jake of his past lover, and he realizes he’s become too involved. He pulls back.

Meanwhile, the watcher on the mountain has rendered his verdict: Kallie Masterson is evil. The sentence: Death.

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Jake was introduced in the first book about his brother. And he is just as hot as I thought he would be! Kallie is not at all the type of woman that Jake thought he was looking for but it turns out that they bring out the best in each other. He gives her the confidence to seek out the dom-sub relationship that had been missing in her love life while she in turn pulls no punches in making Jake face the BS he had been telling himself since his old girlfriend’s death.

Most of this book takes place in Yosemite National Park, so it is a fun “country romance” set in a beautiful landscape. Jake and Kallie are both working as guides, so the secondary characters tend to rotate in and out of the book, without taking too much focus away from the primary characters. It is nice that the Bear Flat community is expanded upon a little bit, with the introduction of some of the other residents, including Kallie’s three cousins, whom she lives with (and who all have the potential to be hot future heroes at some point!).

I have noticed that some other reviewers seemed to be a little annoyed by Kallie’s particular hang-up. After essentially being orphaned and dumped by her stepfather when he remarried, she bounced from family member to family member before ending up with her widowed uncle and three boy cousins. Afraid that she would lose this home too, and not understanding what she had done to be so unlovable in the past, she was a teenager determined to fit in with the boys and never rock the boat. Because of this history, Kallie always doubts her own self-worth and puts her needs last. She has major trust issues and doesn’t believe that she can ever count on another person long-term.

I had no problem with Kallie’s hangups and didn’t feel like they over-powered the book. It flowed well for me and I felt that it was balanced between the two main characters. To some extent, any positive example of a D/s relationship is going to be more focused on the submissive’s needs, not because the Dom doesn’t have them or is less important, but because the relationship is focused on the one who is giving up power in the exchange.

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