The Dom’s Dungeon

cherise sinclair

Foster child. Teenage whore. Now a veterinarian, MacKensie’s turned her life around, but the scars remain. She saves her affection for the animals who never judge or scorn her, but it’s time to get out, move on from her past in Iowa. So, she arranges a vacation exchange to job hunt in Seattle.

Although the house is lovely, one room is locked. Her years in foster care have given her two ‘gifts’: a neurosis about locked doors and the ability to open them. After she gets into the room, she’s appalled…and intrigued. Chains and manacles, whips and paddles, odd benches with straps…

When Alex returns home days early and finds MacKensie draped over the spanking bench in his locked dungeon, he’s furious. But her wariness arouses his protective nature and curiosity, so he strikes a deal to keep her close—she’ll act as his submissive in exchange for a place to stay and help finding a job.

He’d planned to use the veterinarian to deter an ex-girlfriend, not replace her, but with MacKensie’s compelling mixture of strength and vulnerability, the little sub slides right into his well-defended heart.

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Cherise Sinclair is one of favourite authors (possibly my ACTUAL favourite) and I have been reading her for years now. I started in early when she had only published five books or so and never got off the crazy train to sexy-ville.

One of those stories that has always stuck with me was a standalone, set in the Seattle bdsm club “Chains”. The Dom’s Dungeon tells the story of Mackensie, a young veterinarian with serious trust issues who house swaps for two weeks with a wealthy, sexym dominant beast who is travelling to her hometown for a conference. Alas, he misses his flight and walks back into his house to find Mac in an *ahem* compromising position.

This is a shorter story than I usually prefer, coming in around 250 pages, which is characteristic of this author’s earlier writing. However the steamy sex (spanking anyone?!), and strong character development make up for the shorter length. One of the things that I really liked about the Dom’s Dungeon is that the story focuses on the heroine, Mackensie, and her story. Normally I like balance between the couple, but it works in this case and the author doesn’t resort to “hero does something goofy and learns from his mistake” trope to add to his arc just because.

The Dom’s Dungeon is an excellent book to read if you are looking for steamy scenes in a well thought-out plot that actually makes sense and doesn’t have any flowery prose such as “thrusting members” and “womanly petals”.

I have long hoped that Ms. Sinclair would turn The Dom’s Dungeon into a series like she has with the Shadowlands. Steel and Drake have stories that need to be told!!! And although everything is SSC, the vibe I got from Chains is that its a little scarier than the Shadowlands. Maybe because of the extremely negative experience that Mac runs into in the story, or because her nemesis Cynthia got a much more extreme (though just) punishment than I think she would have gotten in the other series. I have commented on the author’s social media a couple of times this year, hoping for a book for Drake or Steel, so who knows, maybe I have put the bug in her ear and she is as ready for a change of pace as I am!

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Still Waters

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There’s a phrase: Still waters run deep.

But there’s more to it than that.

Because “still” doesn’t denote peace. Nor calm. Nor happiness.

It’s an illusion. It’s chaos.

The only way to handle chaos is to become it.

That’s what Lucy did. She created stillness out of the chaos tumbling inside her and called the most chaotic motorcycle club in the United States her family.

The Sons of Templar gave her chaos, friendship, family, danger and death.

But she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Then he came. The one who showed her that her handle on chaos was tumultuous at best.

Showed her how to stand still.

And how good it could be.

And how drowning in those waters comes as easy as breathing.

—                         —                          —

I’ve been a fan of Malcom’s MC series for a while and have recently gotten into her paranormal books as well, but for some reason, I one-clicked this book way back in March and never got around to reading it.

The hero Keltan is the owner of a hot new security company in L.A. And he is a dream-boat. He’s attractive, muscular, Kiwi (New Zealander), tattooed, well-spoken, kind and a good ol’ country boy.

I have to ask, do guys like this really exist? Guys who say things like “where I come from, a woman doesn’t pay for a thing when a man is around”. Guys who aren’t turned off by the outwardly prickly nature of a wary woman AND aren’t just trying to “get the prize”.

Lucy and Keltan’s love story takes place over approximately two years. Although they fall for each other at first glance, both have issues to work through that they refuse to dump on another person, and Lucy in particular is scarred by her previous relationship. This negated the insta-love eye-rolling on my part, because even though they experienced lust at first sight, they got to know each other before jumping into a serious relationship.

Still Waters is the first book in a new series by Malcom entitled Greenstone Security. It appears to be a series that should be read in order – not all plot points are resolved by the end of this book and it is clear that there will be a “baddie” plot point that arcs across two or more books. However, this is the only book about this particular couple, the rest will focus on different people within Keltan’s security company.

Malcom’s writing style is wordy, filled with lots of flowery phrases that make great teasers but “chunk up” the story too much in my opinion. I do however like that all of her heroines are different from one another, and that Keltan isn’t your typical grunting alpha male. He is just as good of a conversationalist as Lucy!

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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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Brighter Than The Sun by Maya Banks

Brighter Than The Sun is the 11th book in the contemporary romance series KGI.

banks

As the last unattached member of the Kelly clan, Joe is more than ready to risk life and limb on any mission he’s assigned to, but when it comes to love, he’ll keep his distance. He’s content to watch his brothers become thoroughly domesticated.

Zoe’s had nothing but heartbreak in her life, and she’s determined to start over with a completely new identity, thanks to her college friend, Rusty Kelly. But it’s the gorgeous smile and tender words of Joe Kelly that begin to weaken her resolve to never risk her heart again. And Joe will have to put everything on the line to save Zoe, when secrets of her past resurface—and threaten to tear them apart…

—                        —                         —

This book reads quite a bit differently than most of the others in the series, in my opinion.  Earlier books in the series were intensely-action based, and usually revolved around the missions that KGI members make, whether it is a hostage rescue, investigation or taking out a crime lord. The characters themselves poke fun at how many members met their spouse on an op!

In comparison, the romance in this story has nothing to do with a KGI mission. And although their skills are used briefly for an action scene near the end of the book, it is certainly much more of a background subplot that merely serves to identify some character traits for the hero and his family.

Brighter Than The Sun has a sweeter tone to its romance. Joe is gentle with and sensitive to his beau, realizing that she has been abused and is a complete flight risk. He is careful not to scare her away and really takes the time to sweet her off her feet with wholesome, country experiences that she has never had. They go fishing, and boating and play in the creek. It really is the perfect country romance! Many of the previous heroes had multiple moments where they acted overbearing and I like that in my story. So it is good that the author takes this story in another direction, it just wasn’t one that worked for me as well.

Probably due to the lack of action, BTTS is pretty wordy. It is uncharacteristic for a KGI novel, but many of the characters make long speeches – basically a soliloquy – throughout the book. I mostly skipped over these, because the story would start to lose my interest. And it is overwhelming for a paragraph to take up an entire page. The author would have been wiser to break up the text, even if the speaker isn’t interrupted by another character, just by adding descriptors such as, ‘she shifted restlessly’.

One thing that I did love in the background of this story was learning more about the relationship between Rusty and Sean now that Rusty is an adult. She has grown up from a troublesome runaway teenager taken in by the Kelly family to an intellectual, highly educated young woman. But despite her academic accomplishments, she still doesn’t feel fully accepted by the KGI family (other than by her adopted parents) and lacks confidence in herself within the family unit.

A large part of this is due to Rusty’s complicated and difficult relationship with Sean. Clearly they are meant to be together, and it seems like the next book in this series will finally be the one where they find their HEA!

My heart broke for her by the end this story though, so I hope it is not too long of a wait!

In some ways, BTTS read like a reunion novel. There was a heavy focus on the background characters and catching the reader up on where they are now. In particular, there are a lot of updates on Rusty/Sean, Sam/Sophie and Nathan/Shea.

I haven’t been too fond of several of the more recent novels in the KGI series. Brighter Than The Sun was more entertaining than those, but I don’t think any book will reach the same level as the first three in the series did, at least in my opinion.

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