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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Masters of the Shadowlands - Books 3 and 4 by Cherise Sinclair

Book three of the Masters of the Shadowlands series is Breaking Free, and book four is Lean on Me. When I reviewed the first two books of this series, I gave them a 9 of 10. And, I called those two books "BDSM Lite".

The first two books in this series worked for me because of the D/s, not because of the BD or SM elements. Unfortunately, an entire series of broken submissives who need to be "fixed" by a club full of near perfect über-doms... four such books back to back is a bit much, and the third and fourth books just didn't work as well for me.Once you know the formula, all of the books in the series are basically the same - insert different names and different psychoses or hangups, and you've got them all, in a nutshell.

Here is the blurb for Breaking Free:

A sadistic husband left Beth scarred, inside and out. Only at the Shadowlands BDSM club does she feel like a woman. But her fears limit her to Doms who won't overwhelm her--the very ones who cannot arouse her. The Master of the Shadowlands gives her an ultimatum: accept the Dom he assigns or lose her membership. The last thing Beth wants is a ruthless, powerful Dom, but that's just what she gets.

Asked to take on a problem sub, Nolan sees the issue immediately--although truly submissive, the little redhead is too scared to relinquish control and her Doms have let her get away with it. That will change right now.

As Master Nolan takes Beth under command, compelling her submission, she's terrified, but the experienced Dom brings her pleasure, not pain. His only demand is that she never lie to him. Under his capable hands, her body comes alive, and she begins to heal. As he pushes her limits, she learns to trust…and then to love. And she realizes he is beginning to care for her in return.

But now her cruel husband has found her, and Master Nolan discovers she's been lying and lying and lying.

And the blurb for Lean on Me:

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 comforts her, his glimpses of the woman inside the emotional armour intrigue him and her utter surrender captures his heart.

Although Master Cullen is famous for his unfettered lifestyle, Andrea believes he might be interested in her, until she discovers he’s not just a bartender--he’s a cop. Maybe he’d overlook her past brush with the law, but when another trainee accuses her of stealing money, Andrea's sure she’s lost the Master she wanted with all her heart.

For me, I'm going to have to give both of these books a 6 of 10. And I can't call these books realistic BDSM, either. Not because the BDSM is so far fetched (it is not), but because the relationship is too.... too... it just wouldn't happen that way.  The Doms are, can't say Mary Sue for them... Marty Stu, I guess. A good BDSM relationship is about communication, not about the Dom just knowing what is wrong without any communication.

As for story elements: plot in both books is good, pacing has issues but isn't horrible, prose and dialogue were very well done, and character development is also very well done.

Book Rating: 6 of 10

Cherise Sinclair is a good storyteller, and I feel bad about rating these books a 6 of 10. But that's how I feel about them, it's what I must put out there if I am to be honest. Others, those newer to the ideas of BDSM, would probably rate them higher. Perhaps that is Ms. Sinclair's intended audience.

1. Club Shadowlands
2. Dark Citadel
3. Breaking Free
4. Lean on Me

* Masters of the Shadowlands (contains Club Shadowlands and Dark Citadel)
* Breaking Free

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