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.

virgil

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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Full Contact (Redemption book 3)

Full Contact is the third novel in the Redemption series, featuring MMA fighters and their lady loves.

full-contact

Blurb:

When you can’t resist the one person who could destroy you…

Sia O’Donnell can’t help but push the limits. She secretly attends every underground MMA fight featuring The Predator, the undisputed champion. When he stalks his prey in the ring, Sia is mesmerized. He is dominant and dangerous and every instinct tells her to run.

Every beautiful thing Ray “The Predator” touches he knows he’ll eventually destroy. Soft, sweet and innocent, Sia is the light to Ray’s darkness-and completely irresistible. From the moment he lays eyes on her, he knows he’s going to have to put his dark past behind him to win her body and soul.

—                    —                    —

I was really surprised that this novel was about Sia and Ray for some reason. Usually the main secondary characters in the previous books are leading into those characters’ HEA, so I was expecting Rampage to be the lead. I also suspected Penny and Ray could end up together but I like this match-up better.

I’m still surprised though, that Sia and Ray had their story told so early. Although the reader knows Ray (or at least thinks they do), Sia is almost completely unknown and Ray had yet to start training at Redemption in the first two novels. The story is written entirely from Sia’s POV, so it felt like I was starting a new series in some ways, even though Ray had been previously introduced.

Regardless …

Sia is overcoming a lot of turmoil in her past and has plenty of triggers that need to be worked through. I love the strong female characters in this series. We started with a female paramedic, then a lawyer, and now a tattoo artist. Each of the girls also start training MMA to one degree or another, as their interests are sparked by the man they are dating. None of these ladies wants to be a victim or a push-over, and I admire that resilience and determination each employs in facing life’s challenges.

Ray (minor spoiler but not really) is secretly a CIA agent. Explains where he got those master P.I. skills! I wish that he had been further explored throughout the story. I felt like Castille was building him up through the previous novel just to drop him and explain the relationship through Sia’s POV only. Not cool. It would have been awesome to explore his shadowy career a little more closely, and figure out how he manages to be a domestically-operating CIA agent while working as a corporate P.I. in a law firm and still fight in the underground circuit. Talk about a busy man!

Sia blossoms as an independent thinking throughout the story. She grows and learns to believe in herself and take chances safely. I also wish we could have seen more of her and Ray’s struggles to overcome her triggers during intimacy and Ray’s issues with this. I do feel like the dialogue is lacking a little in this series. The characters seem to argue over the same things repeatedly and then it just works out, without showing the steps and compromises it took to get there.

Hopefully this is something that will be rectified in the fourth book. It is the HEA of Rampage and Penny and I dearly hope it will be told from both of their perspective’s. According to the author’s facebook page this week, it will be due out in April 2017 and the title is listed as Fighting Attraction. Apparently Rampage is quite the scary Dom in his personal life. I will be ecstatic if it is finally the book to ramp up the edginess!

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