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.
— — —
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!
* * * * *
My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.
I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.
Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.
Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?
But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.
— — —
Fighting Attraction is the fourth book in the series Redemption, which features alpha heroes who train mixed martial arts at a fight club called (you guessed it) Redemption. This instalment is about club favourite Rampage, who has a secret life as a prominent Dom/sadist at the local private kink club. When friend Penny accidentally stumbles upon his secret, something in her is piqued at a healthier way to mix pain and sex than the abusive relationships and self-harm she hides in her past.
In many ways I felt that Fighting Attraction was the best written book in this series so far. Many of the interactions and conversations were more realistic to how people actually talk and I could appreciate the way that Penny and Rampage tried to overcome some pretty big differences to work things out.
However, I felt like the author got some ideas in her head about how to write Rampage as the hero for this book, ideas that were inconsistent with her past descriptions of him. Here, Rampage is both an up and coming professional athlete, a past underground champion and still maintains a secret life as a top Dom in the city of Oakland where the whole story takes place. I found it difficult to believe that he could be so well known in one life and so low-profile about his secret at the same time.
Also, Rampage is the club gossip who knows everything about everyone but somehow disappears a few nights a week to attend the kink club. You would think he would value other people’s privacy more when he has such a potentially devastating secret to hide.
He also is seemingly able to turn down his need for a sexual submission in an instant when Penny indicates that she is a masochist but not a submissive. It made it seem like that was a fun kink he played at rather than a strong part of his personality and I felt like it did the real work D/s lifestyle a disservice.
Rampage is also charmingly southern in this book. Its not overdone, but he was most definitely raised a southern gentleman, something that didn’t come across in previous books. He also apparently has access to his family’s “old money” despite being estranged from them. These inconsistencies kept popping up throughout the story, distracting me from the romance at hand.
Overall, Fighting Attraction was entertaining but I hope the author keeps improving in her writing. I noticed she has the fifth book coming out in early 2018 and will be happy to jump back into this world then.
* * * *
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 ;)
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.
— — —
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.
* * * * *