Reclaiming Emma (Cloudcroft Ranch #5)

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With credit card debt piling up and her marriage seemingly in trouble, Emma Lanyon makes an impulsive decision and flies to Cloudcroft Ranch unannounced to visit her sister. Upon her arrival, however, she is scolded about running away from her problems, and once her husband joins her at the ranch he quickly leaves Emma in no doubt that things are going to change. From now on, when she needs to be taken in hand her bottom will be bared and very soundly spanked.

Over the coming days, Emma is taught to surrender her body to her husband’s demands. His stern dominance arouses her intensely, and when he decides to share her with another man she is brought to heights of pleasure she never imagined. But obedience is expected, and she soon learns the hard way that putting her safety at risk will earn her a truly shameful punishment.

Emma’s desire for both men grows stronger with every new experience and every blushing climax, but will their shared bond endure even when the time comes to leave Cloudcroft?

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Reclaiming Emma is the fifth book in the Cloudcroft Ranch series.

This book is unique from the previous works of Isabella Laase. We see a couple who is already married, and attempting to integrate BDSM into their relationship, rather than two individuals who first meet in the book. Additionally, Emma’s husband Javi is mostly new to this lifestyle. This is the first book I have read where the Dominant is a novice.

Together, Javi and Emma decide to add in new friend Dylan to their kinky relationship and eventually form a strong emotion bond as a poly-amorous relationship.

Ms. Laase is a wonderful writer, and that is no small feat. Lately, I have been trying many new authors in the erotica/romance genre and there is so much dribble out there. Ms. Laase is descriptive and actually devotes word count to story and not just kinky fuckery.

That being said, there was a lot in this book that didn’t work for me.

Reclaiming Emma posits that adopting some form of D/s relationship will just fix the very serious relationship problems that exist between Javi and Emma from the start of the novel, and magically cure her depression. Which is ludicrous. Additionally, therapy for her, and for them as a couple is only briefly mentioned in one of the opening chapters and never pursued. I was also highly skeptical that adding in other partners for D/s play and Dylan as a serious third in the relationship was appropriate when Emma and Javi were throwing around the “D-word”.

There seemed to be the expectation among all the Doms in this book that spanking can cure Emma. It can’t. She is depressed and based off her decision to throw away her home and marriage by leaving, she is standing on the edge of an emotional cliff. Spanking may change some of her actions but it is in no way addressing any of the deeper reasons for those actions and is likely to lead to very serious emotional trauma.

The cover blurb suggest that Emma and Javi develop a D/s style relationship, but it almost immediately develops into a Daddy/babygirl style instead. That kink is not identified anywhere on the cover or blurb, and I think it should have been. There isn’t anything wrong with it, but it felt like the author tried to hide that aspect.

There is also a serious lack of conversation between Emma and Javi and Dylan in regards to the problems that developed in the first place in their marriage and how a consensual BDSM relationship would proceed. The consent on Emma’s part is assumed or implied beyond the first couple of scenes, with little discussion.

Finally … if anyone is still reading at this point …

Dylan is the brother of Olivia, the lead character in book four of this series. Olivia shows up repeatedly in Reclaiming Emma and although she and Dylan never interact sexually, they both publicly have naked, kinky sex with their respective partners while in the same room as each other, and discuss Olivia’s babygirl relationship with her two Daddy doms and the physical discipline aspect of that relationship … and that completely squirks me out!

Overall, this is a fun read but nothing that will ever top my list. I feel like the author is wasting her talent because she is quite a good writer, but doesn’t take the time – or possibly have the knowledge – to write a healthy D/s relationship. Maybe this is off base, but IMHO, she seems to be writing about the scene from an outsider’s perspective.

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Saving Sophia (Cloudcroft Ranch #2)

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After a tragic accident left her alone in the foster care system at a young age, Sophia Montgomery grew up relying on no one but herself, but at age twenty-three she finds herself facing homelessness after her plans for a summer job fall through. Seeing no alternative, she lets two of her friends convince her to apply for a gardening job at Cloudcroft, a combination working ranch and BDSM resort. Though she is nervous about the whole idea, Sophia pretends to understand what she is getting herself into despite having no experience with anything kinky.

Sophia is immediately impressed by handsome rancher and resort manager Marcus Greene, but when her intense focus on her work puts her health at risk she quickly discovers that her new boss takes her well-being very seriously. After a thorough scolding, Sophia’s bottom is bared for a sound spanking, and to her surprise the humiliating chastisement arouses her deeply.

She soon learns that Marcus can be tender as well as stern, and being held in his lap and comforted after her punishment makes Sophia feel safer than she has in a long time. Over the coming days she grows to trust in Marcus’ discipline and guidance as he takes it upon himself to teach her what it means to truly surrender to a dominant man, but when Sophia makes a startling discovery about her past will she end up leaving Cloudcroft behind?

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Not gonna lie, I was super surprised that Marcus was the hero in this book. I was sure it was going to be Linc, the brother of the hero in book one.

Nevertheless, Saving Sophia is a fun and sexy book to dive into!

Sophia grew up in a series of foster homes, so she hasn’t had the education and life experiences that she would have had otherwise, despite her intellect and drive to better herself. She is remarkable for not falling through the cracks and is a partner worthy of Marcus, who has also worked incredibly hard to get to where he is in life.

I like that both of the characters had challenges that they had overcome, as well as things they were still working on. Sophia is a much more likeable character than the heroine in book one, and it was fun watching her fall into this BDSM world, of which she is completely ignorant.

I also lived the relationships that Marcus has with Mum and stepmother, and how open and welcoming they are to Sophia. Those two old ladies are a riot and I hope they keep turning up as secondary characters in the series.

Saving Sophia has plenty of spanking scenes, but the relationship style is very similar to that of Jack and Bella in book 1 of this series. I hope to see development in the next books. I would hate to see each book (and each couple) become carbon copies of one another, at least in terms of their D/s relationship style.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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