This is the seventh of the Master of Shadowlands series, all of which have overlapping characters. Cherise Sinclair is one of my favorite erotica authors, and this is another win for her. I love Sinclair’s writing because of it’s authenticity in terms of relationship dynamics and BDSM. Furthermore, she caveats her books by telling readers to remember that in real life, men can’t read your mind – I appreciate that honesty, and it comes through in the books themselves as well. Character development is key for me, and the characters in this series all make me feel. I cry when they cry, I get turned on when they’re turned on.
This particular book is about an older woman who was kidnapped as part of a human trafficking ring and then rescued. The hero helped free her, but in doing so forced her to feel in front of slavers she’d spent months freezing out. The hero is a sadist, and the protagonist a masochist. Against her own interests, the protagonist repeatedly needs and seeks out the hero/sadist as she is forced to accept her masochism.
Aside from the jerk-off material, suspense plot line (kidnappers aren’t fully arrested), and romantic story, this book rang true to me because of the protagonist’s feelings about herself. I struggle sometimes to accept my masochism (and kink in general, at times), striving instead to be “normal.” Sinclair clearly emphasizes that what is “normal” and what is “right” don’t contradict how you process emotions and what you desire sexually. Sinclair writes about the protagonist’s foggy state of mind – when things get stressful and it’s been a while since a pain session, the world isn’t in focus. Pain helps her release and focus, let go, and feel again – not just feel at all, but feel positive feelings too. — That resonated with me strongly, because pain for me is more than an endorphin rush or surrendering of control, but it helps me feel pleasure in all aspects (not just sexual ones) when before I had disassociated.
I recommend this book to anyone into kink, or anyone interested in a good portrayal of S/m.
“She wanted that ruthless part of him. With him, she wouldn’t have to beg for more, because he’d force her to where the sharp edge between pain and pleasure slipped away, and he’d keep her there, where her soul was bared to him.”