Thursday, January 26, 2012

Treasure Chest #1 Cherise Sinclair

Reviewer: avidscribe
I’m introducing this Treasure Chest column on our blog with an appraisal of (most of) the works of one of my favorite erotic authors. Cherise Sinclair should be on everyone’s must-read list. Her works are on my ‘read again’ list when I am looking for a comforting friend.

Her women are, for the most part, soft, curvy and pliant. They’re largely young and sassy as well. Her men are all hard, broad, well off, well endowed and love giving pleasure to their women. But more than that, they listen to their women, get to know what isn’t being said, draw them out with heartfelt compliments, encouragement and praise. Her Doms are knowing, intelligent, playful and all-man. Seriously, what’s not to love? If someone were to ask me what my favorite story from her collected works is, I’d have a hard time coming up with just one. I love so many of her stories.

Maybe my favorite is The Dom’s Dungeon. The story of MacKensie and Alex Fontaine is a tale I’ve gone back to several times now. Vulnerable, feisty and submissive MacKensie is a vet intent to leave behind a painful, abusive past that had her experiencing abuse in foster care and subsequent escape to the streets at the tender age of 15. Beaten by a pimp, a kindly vet and his wife take her in and nurture her, giving her an education and the only home she’d ever known. With the death of her mentor, she has left behind her past by moving to Seattle to begin her life anew. She rents Alex’s house on a vacation exchange with an understanding that she is to watch his aging dog while the homeowner is out of town. A scuffle at the airport protecting an elderly lady sends Alex back home instead to nurse his wounded shoulder. There he finds MacKensie has jimmied open a locked door and discovered his private BDSM dungeon.

Her punishment is a spanking and afterwards he sits down with her to hammer out an agreement. He will say nothing of her breaking and entering: her reputation will remain unsullied at this critical time in her job hunt. She can stay for the original 2 week duration (now to be spent with him under his roof) if she agrees to pretend to be his sub so he can rid himself of a very undesirable stalkerish ex. He sweetens the deal saying he will even call in some favors with friends in influential places if she does a convincing enough job. While she is skittish, she really has no choice. However, she tells him she doesn’t like to be touched at all and thinks everyone will see that and know they’re not actually together.

A night later at a BDSM club changes the dynamics between them when MacKensie reacts to Alex’s pushy ex by declaring him as her own. He discovers her own arousal scares her so he pushes her past it, putting her in a situation where she has no choice but to feel. She experiences the first orgasm in her life at the hands of a man who does not force himself on her and shows perfect control over himself and her. She is awed.

Alex pushes her boundaries. He helps her to expose her long buried pain and deal with it. He’s observant to the things she cannot say and starts to unravel the mysteries of his “little cat”, as he calls her. As her lover, he wants to know; as her Dom, he needs to know. While he wasn’t looking for a relationship, she’s gotten under his skin and she’s a puzzle he feels compelled to unravel. Her stay extended, she comes to trust him, express her feelings to him and care for him … until a person from her past threatens to destroy her newfound happiness.

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• “Good morning, sweetie.” She sent the dog into ecstasy by scratching his sides. “Did you sleep with the brute last night?”
“Actually, the brute makes him sleep in his dog bed on the floor.” Alex strolled into the room, holding a cup of coffee, and sat down on the other end of the couch.
• Did he not understand the “won't happen” phrase she'd used? “Listen, I don't want you deluding yourself that I'm interested in sex when I'm not.”
“Ah. So you require objective proof that we both can see. I understand the need.” He tilted his head. “So if your nipples become erect in a warm room, and your pussy gets wet enough on the outside to dampen my hand, is that a sign of arousal?”
• Giving a tiny duplication of his growl, Mac glared at Cynthia. “He doesn't need you, you overbred cow; he has me.” And she grabbed his hand and shoved it between her legs.
“Well, now,” Alex murmured in a low rumble that sent nerves racing up Mac's arms.
• “Actually, if it pleases me that you be naked, then you will do so and be proud that I choose to share your beauty,” he said softly. “In situations like this, what you wear—or don't wear—is at my discretion.” He stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Strip. Now.”
• “I didn't say you could do this,” she said, her voice shaking.
“Little sub, I didn't ask.”

Heroine’s favorite expression: Frak!
Dom’s term of endearment: little cat; little vet

Or maybe my favorite is The Starlight Rite, a foray into sci-fi. While not overtly BDSM, it has smatterings of it in the storyline. Mella (Armelina Archer) is stranded on the planet Nexus. With no friends, no family and no money, she’s forced into rolling men for their coin purses to get enough to eat. Her husband Nathan is behind a failed attempt to murder her, and, as a world renowned singer, she needs someplace to hide, hoping that in time she can raise enough money to get off the planet and find somewhere safe to live out her life.

She’s all of 5'5", “lush bodied” (don’t you love the way some writers describe a curvaceous albeit overweight woman?!), in her late twenties and picks the wrong person to try to roll one dark evening. Kinae Dain of the Zarain clan (a living god of a gorgeous man in his prime) easily subdues her and she is hauled before the planet’s judge and fined, money that will have to be met via her servitude. Her contract for this servitude is offered up via an auction. Dain is impressed by her courage, her pride and intelligence shown in court and bids on her. With no perceptible skills and lacking the weight to serve in hard labor, she is reduced to being a sex slave for a tad over a month, an unshuline.

The concept is disgusting and an anathema to the ‘earther’. Earth went through the Moral Wars 40 yrs. ago. Only married couples have sex and only for reproduction. Sensual indulgence is considered a route straight to hell. Poor Mella is overwhelmed at the raw sexuality of Dain and the forbidden sensuality of his touch. In short time, however, her body burns for his.

The Council of Five requests Dain’s expertise as head of Planetary Security to oversee the investigation of the ship that had been blown apart in the port, because the ship’s famous owner is dead and there’s pressure to find the culprit responsible. Dain starts to work on this, unaware this was Mella’s ship and the culprit is her husband.

One morning Mella is listening to the news on a view screen about the ongoing investigation into her death. Her husband is now on the planet “assisting”, intent to move it along so he can claim her inheritance. She watches the scene shift and she sees Dain at a restaurant with her husband and the two hired thugs who tried to kill her. She realizes Dain is nothing more than a cop, an enforcer—just like the men hired to kill her. Face the facts, she tells herself, Dain and the men who murdered her shipboard crew with an intent to kill her too are friends.

Sooner or later, Dain could mention he has a slave named Mella or her husband could show Dain a photo of her … and that will be the end of her. She is anguished. The man who had shown her such passion—what were the chances he hadn’t known about her husband’s plans? A servant in Dain’s household is proud to tell her Dain is in charge of every enforcer on Nexus. He knows everything.

The nature of sci-fi lends itself to a great deal of imagination and Cherise doesn’t let readers down naming animals (felin for a knee-high cat; deerlets for deer, relix for a lizard that catches a flutter in its pointy mouth) and sexual organs (somaline for clit; maline for pussy) although, right now, I’d say Evangeline Anderson has the sci-fi erotica slant covered with the sheer imagination imbued into her KINDRED series. She goes beyond the words to see how ‘earthers’ interact with alien technology, animals and food, often with hilarious consequences.

Heroine’s favorite expression: Oh Prophet!
Dom’s term of endearment: little thief; laria

Maybe my favorite is Master Of The Mountain.
Full figured Rebecca reluctantly joins her boyfriend, Matt, at a weekend swinger’s retreat at Serenity Lodge up in the mountains of Sierra, Nevada. Her boyfriend, thinks they need something to spice up their ‘lacking’ sex life. Inhibited and shy Rebecca is a talented artist working in an advertising agency but whose inner demons taunt her that she is fat and will never be good enough. She is haunted by the departing words of her dad who left her and her mother with ‘You’re fat and boring and so’s the kid. I’m leaving.’

Once at the lodge, Rebecca meets the other swingers and dimly notes the men may come in different sizes but all the women are toned and slender. She feels only fat and out of place. She has a run-in with Logan Hunt’s dog and is terrorized. As a child, a dog attacked her and she’s terrified of the animals now. Regarding Logan, he looks as mean as his dog only with steely blue eyes in a deeply tanned face with a scar below his left cheekbone.  He’s over 6’ tall with muscles straining against his flannel shirt. He takes one look at Rebecca and knows she’s not a swinger. He can’t understand why she’s there.

Matt can’t wait to take off for an evening of swinging while Rebecca turns in for the night with a good book. At breakfast, Matt embarrasses her about her choice of food reminding her of her weight thereby ratcheting up her insecurities to an untenable degree. This is followed by an afternoon where everyone skinny dips and Rebecca witnesses Matt “heading for a blonde who looked as if she had substituted bouncy breasts for cheerleading pom-poms.” Anguished, Rebecca starts to head back up the trail but Logan blocks her way. No one hikes alone. He demands she strip down because she’s getting overheated. There’s no getting around the implacable wall of his chest and he starts to disrobe her when she hesitates. She is fighting back tears thinking about Matt with the perky blonde and Logan takes her in his arms to comfort her.

The meet-and-greet after supper involves several game scenarios designed for people to lose their clothes in penalty. When she finds Matt in their cabin with the same blonde, she considers sleeping on the lodge’s porch swing and that’s how Logan finds her, a bit tipsy, frozen and half conscious. He carries her upstairs to his bedroom and keeps her warm throughout the night, asking only for a kiss in the morning that becomes hotter than any she’s ever experienced in her life. He moves confidently over her body and she throbs, flaming out of control. He pins her down and gives her the orgasm of her life, leaving her shaking and dazed.

With no way to leave, the disgruntled non-swinger is put into the same sleeping situation the next night, though she experiences very little sleep under Logan’s expert hands. She blossoms, unfurls, experiencing a sexuality she didn’t know she possessed. This isn’t Matt constantly asking what she wants in bed. This is Logan taking … and her body LOVES it. Logan’s attraction to the zaftig beauty is something she doesn’t find possible even while she is intensely drawn to the gorgeous man.

But Logan has a past that makes him a dangerous man to be around and his brother Jake has the scar to prove it. When he pushes Becca away to keep her safe, she misinterprets his motives and blames it on her weight. She leaves at the end of the weekend devastated and broken. Can Logan make peace with his past so he can make a future with his little sub?

Fun and delicious lines:
• After a long pause and a surely-you're-not-serious look, Thor walked slowly back to the desk and dropped down with a long-suffering sigh. (Thor is Logan’s dog)
• [Becca wary over Logan’s dog] "It wants to eat me," she whispered. "Please, please, let me go."
A laugh rumbled in her ear. "No, sweetheart. I'm the one that will eat you. Thor only licks people he likes. It's his version of a hug."
• Making the rounds with a wine bottle, Logan set his hand on her shoulder to fill her glass, his touch causing shivers to run-through her body. He whispered in her ear, "How can I bribe you to make biscuits for breakfast?"
Her first thought was so depraved that she could feel herself flush. Oh God.
He chuckled and rubbed his knuckles over her cheek. "You will explain that thought to me later. In detail."
• He met her gaze, and amusement glinted in his eyes. And satisfaction. Satisfaction? Had he done that to her on purpose? She would have to kill him. That's all. He must die.

Heroine’s favorite expression: Good Grief; ugly, ugly, ugly (said in self-recrimination)
Dom’s term of endearment: little rebel, sugar

Note: The BDSM club Rebecca walks into at the end of this story is Dark Haven. She is approached by a Dom named Simon, a beautiful man with an aristocratic face, silver flecked black hair, standing six feet tall who treats her kindly. This is the same Simon in her short story Simon Says: Mine found in Doms Of Dark Haven.

If my favorite isn’t Master Of The Mountain, maybe it’s the sequel, Master Of The Abyss. This is Jake Hunt’s story, Logan’s brother. What I dearly love about this story is not only do I get to go back to characters I love but a mystery is resolved. In that regard, the overlapping situation reminds me of Robin Schone’s The Lover and Gabriel’s Woman—you need to read both, although in Robin’s tomes the mystery is the heart of each story. In the first book, we discover Jake is torn up over the suicide of his slave Mimi he uncollared. He can’t get past the hurt he caused her, hurt enough for her to throw herself off a cliff.

Or did she?

Twenty five year old pint-sized Kallie Masterson appears to be a Chuck Norris wannabe. She sports short black hair that looks like she cut it herself with a knife. She wears no makeup and hides in flannel shirts and work boots. She’s a kick-ass grown up tomboy that handles herself in a barroom brawl much to Jake’s surprise, protecting the three friends she’s gone there with, until a biker goes careening into her and lays her out flat.

Jake helps her up and she melts under his hands. Who wouldn’t? He’s tall, darkly tanned, lean faced with a strong jaw with a faint cleft in the chin (swoon!). Cobalt blue eyes. She’s had a crush on him forever but she thinks she looks like a two-legged pear and he could have (and has had!) anyone he wants in Bear Flat and then some. As he looks for bruising, he looks at the sassy woman as if for the first time.

Unbeknownst to Kallie, she is being watched. In the shadows, unwilling to join in the fighting because his battle is not against his fellow man but against evil, he has observed the small woman who actually had the temerity to strike a man. Her dark hair and dark eyes could be the markings of the devil. He needs to watch and see before acting.

Kallie and her cousins run a trail guide service and have agreed to join forces with Jake and Logan to provide tourists with a complete package of guide services and lodge accommodations in the rural mountainous area. It means, however, that some of the special guests will be part of the BDSM scene and Kallie is asked to go to Serenity Lodge to get an eyeful of what goes on at these private gatherings so she can be more comfortable with what her family is getting into. Once there and with Logan otherwise occupied, she’s approached by Simon (yes, that Simon) who starts to explain BDSM and notes the little pixie is submissive. He deliberately steers their conversation to pique Jake’s interest, noting she wants to play. She wants to play with Jake.

Jake is a one night only kind of guy and more than interested in finding out what’s under that unflattering flannel shirt of Kallie’s. However, he is not ready for how she rips right through his long-held detachment, how she brings his dominant needs roaring to the surface. Kallie’s hold nothing back, full speed ahead attitude is the antithesis of what he had with Mimi and she broaches Jake’s defenses. Still, he’s a one night only kind of guy … so when he sees her a week later in the grocery store accepting a date from the owner, why is he so upset?

And through this building sexual tension between the two, there’s an observer, a man who stares at Kellie and thinks she has a black soul and needs to be destroyed. She is evil, a black demon that would steal a man’s very essence and must be rooted out. A club over the head will do, shattering bones while the demon shrieks as its torn from the physical world.

This book is considerably longer than the story that precedes it and makes for a very immersive read. Lots more interaction, lots more sex, more characters (for future book consideration?), lots more character reveal, lots more moments with Logan and his (now) fiancée Rebecca and I couldn’t be happier. Cherise layers in the dark notes in a manner that keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for the moment the truths reveal themselves and the mystery surrounding Mimi’s death is finally cleared.

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• His masculine scent had the tang of a high mountain forest, clean and compelling, but he was intimidatingly close.
• She could feel how his hands would hold her in place, his cock hard between her legs, demanding entry and ... The air had completely disappeared from the room.
• Worry niggled in her stomach like hungry lake trout.
• There could be no compliment more potent than that huge erection in his jeans.
• His voice rumbled across her like a mountain avalanche and had the same effect, knocking down every one of her resolutions.

Heroine’s favorite expression: (none)
Dom’s term of endearment: little sprite, short stuff, sugar, imp

Cherise has two running BDSM themed storylines. The first is her Dark Haven collection that centers around participants at a private BDSM dungeon in San Francisco run by a Dom called Xavier (my Liege, to all the subs).

Doms Of Dark Haven, an anthology, brings together three distinct stories that play out in Cherise Sinclair’s universe. Sierra Cartwright’s contribution is called Met Her Match (a melding of her Hawkeye universe, so there’s more where this short story came from.). Belinda McBride penned Educating Evangeline that is the only paranormal entry in the anthology, a story about a wolf shifter. Master Xavier winds through each story and it’s sheer fun that these talented writers all agreed to create stories in Cherise’s world. Simon Says: Mine is Cherise’s; a short story that weaves in the characters from Master Of The Abyss  and Master Of The Mountain. We catch up briefly with Logan and Rebecca and Jake. Personally, it’s these inclusions, these moments in her books that I love best about this writer because I long to catch up with every one of her characters and see how they are doing after I reach ‘The End’. Her characters stay with me.

With the success of the first anthology, a second was created. Doms Of Dark Haven 2: Western Night has stories from the same three authors. Sierra Cartright’s A Good Sub Would is a terrific read I highly recommend. Belinda McBride’s Hunting Holly follows, another excellent wolf shifter paranormal story that continues the storyline presented in Educating Evangeline. Cherise wraps up the book with Welcome To The Dark Side, giving us Virgil’s story (a character from Master Of The Abyss, a follow-up novel to Master Of The Mountain. We also catch up with Simon.

The second running BDSM storyline is her MASTER OF THE SHADOWLANDS series. These are full-length books and offer characters that overlap each story. There is always Master Z, (Zachary for short; owner of Shadowlands), a man able to pick up on people’s emotions and thoughts which aid him in his occupation as a child psychiatrist. At this writing, she has six books to this series and plans more. Yeah! Maybe this whole series is my favorite.

Club Shadowlands – book 1
Z’s story. A 20-something year old Jessica Randall, a pint sized Marilyn Monroe, trashes her car in a ditch trying to avoid running over an armadillo. It’s late at night, the road is deserted and it’s pouring rain. She sees a three-story stone mansion and goes to its doors and its doorman, Ben, tells her the doors are locked and she’s too late. She has no idea what he’s talking about. She just wants to make a phone call and dry out. He scowls and tells her he’ll have to ask Master Z.

She meets Z, Zachary Grayson, or rather, she slams right into him as she barrels into the small entry room. Firm hands grip her as she looks up, up, up. He’s tall with wide shoulders, and a deep baritone voice. In his 40’s, he has silvering black hair, dark eyes and sports tailored black slacks and a black silk shirt that outline hard muscles. He reminds her of a jaguar, sleek and deadly. He owns the club. In order for her to step foot inside, she must sign paperwork indemnifying the club and agreeing to the club’s extensive rules. She is so cold she can’t process the paperwork and hands it back unread with a hastily scribbled signature.

She’s given some dry clothes she can’t even manage to put on she’s so cold, her fingers stiff, shuddering so hard her bones hurt. Z steps in and strips her, pushing her protesting into a hot shower. He takes charge in drying her off afterwards, toweling her and then demanding she spread her legs for a more thorough drying. It’s a clearly defining moment in their relationship when she submits to his authoritative tone and does so despite her qualms about her body.

It’s bondage night at Shadowlands and innocent Jessica is thrust into the main room, a den of depravity. She meets Cullen, the bartender, who looks like a Great Dane with shaggy hair, all bone and muscle. She turns to watch the dancing going on and realizes it’s all terribly provocative and she’s getting aroused. She leaves the safety of the bar stool to wander around watching scenes and comes upon a burly man whipping a woman tied to a sawhorse. The woman is shrieking for him to stop and Jessica, having seen her sister beaten like that during her marriage, grabs the whip out of the man’s hand and punches him right in the face knocking him down.

There’s a penalty for interrupting a scene and Jessica would have known that if she’d read the papers she signed. She is paddled in public and Z administers the aftercare. Even though it was wrong to break up the scene, Z admires her bravery. The facets of her personality mesmerize him. As she returns to herself, Z kisses her and it’s like nothing she has ever experienced, as if she’s never been kissed before.

Later that evening, alone with him, she learns what it’s like to truly be a submissive. When morning breaks, the fairytale is over and she heads home not knowing exactly how to frame everything that has happened to her but 6 days later a package arrives from Z asking her to wear what’s inside it. It’s lingerie night at Shadowlands. Will she have the nerve to attend?

Fun and Delicious Lines:
 • ‘She remembered how his mouth had felt on her, how his ravening tongue had licked over her, around …’
Ravening! (swoon!) Love to see a word injected into a different context than what I am expecting.

Heroine’s favorite expression: (none)
Dom’s term of endearment: little one; pet; kitten; little spitfire

Dark Citadel – book 2
Kari Wagner, 5'4", a pretty and lushly curved, modest and conservative high school biology teacher, attends an introductory class in BDSM at Shadowlands with her aggressive, overbearing boyfriend, Brian. It’s doomed from the start; Z and Master Dan watch the rough way Brian addresses her and Dan eventually steps in to separate the two. Kari tells Brian she’s leaving but Z convinces Kari to give it another chance with a gentler, more experienced Don—Dan Sawyer.

Kari feels an immediate attraction to the Dom. He is dressed in black leathers, hard faced with an equally hard body. Black hair, potent brown eyes, stern jaw. Dan is a detective by profession and is still grieving for the death of his wife 3 years prior.

When Sally, a sub in training, jokes with Dan, his expression turns to stone. He tells her to report to Cullen and she’s to be given to a Dungeon Master for spanking and his use. Kari is chilled. When Jessica interrupts to tell Dan he’s needed for a few minutes, Kari uses the opportunity to be convinced Dan isn’t a white slave trader and she and Jessica talk about Dan, the club and her expectations. They become fast friends.

Dan gives her a shattering experience in what it means to be restrained, shocking her with her own wanton reaction. The way her body reacted to domination is what she’s been looking for all her life, but when it’s time to leave he turns cold on her and she’s bereft and miserable, thinking she’s done something to offend him. Sally confides that that’s just the way he is, when it’s over it’s done and he never uses a sub more than one night. What neither of them understand is the little sub has gotten to him and he simply can’t move past the death of his wife.

Kari braves the next lesson alone and Cullen offers to work with her, asking Dan to man the bar for him. It’s a setup, trying to rile Dan who walks right into it. He hauls Kari away for a talk, admitting there is something between them unfinished. They spend an incredible mind blowing evening again together but it ends the same way: Dan cools and gives her a pained goodbye.

Just one more evening for the trainees. Could that night’s gamboling in Z’s Capture Gardens provide the atmosphere for Dan to recognize the dark citadel he’s placed around his heart and reach for the love that he needs to heal?

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• Everywhere his hand touched her skin wakened like spring after a hard winter, and warmth washed through her
• Jessica gave her a sympathetic look. “I’ll get back to Z then.” She shook her finger at Master Dan. “You be nice to her.”
Master Dan frowned. “If you were mine, I’d beat you more often.”
Appalled, Kari sucked in a breath and then saw a smile pull at his lips, the gleam of laughter in his eyes.
• She started to glare at him, got a level look, and managed to give him a tight-lipped smile.
He laughed. “Sweetheart, I hope you don’t play poker.”
• From the tightening of her muscles, the slight cringing away, he was bigger than she was used to. He got a deplorable sense of satisfaction from knowing that.
• [I laughed out loud reading this] Dan frowned. Had Z’s little sub just said “stupid asshole” under her breath?

Incidentally, this book sets the hilarious pattern of Jessica mouthing off and getting “punished” by Z at the behest of some Dom she’s “offended.”

Heroine’s favorite expression: Oh God!
Dom’s term of endearment: sweetling, little nun

Breaking Free – book 3
A lot of BDSM stories have, at their root, two fractured persons coming together and healing through their love. This is certainly the outline for this book, the most disturbing and poignant of all her stories I’ve read. I find myself often coming back to this brave woman and shaking my head in recognition that the story plays out all too true for many women throughout the world. Cherise gives us a moving, happy ending when in real life many battered women don’t get so nice a break.

Redheaded Elizabeth Stanton (Beth to her friends) is being chained and handled by an inexperienced Dom. The woman is terribly scarred with her too-thin frame showing old fractures, cigarette burns and puncture wounds from her sadistic husband she’s in flight from. Each time she is at Shadowlands she looks for a new top and can’t get off. Z watches her with concern knowing the club isn’t meeting her needs. He tells Nolan (who we have met in the previous book) that he’s her last chance—as long as he’s willing to be her Dom in the club she can remain, but if he gives up he’s going to terminate her membership.

Nolan King is one hell of a fierce looking Dom: ex military recently back from Iraq, black hair, dark eyes, reddish-bronze skin of Native American ancestry, standing broad at least 6' tall. He is an experienced Dom, the type she avoids; he doesn’t miss anything. He proceeds to take her naked with a spreader bar, leaving her aroused and wanting. For the first time since she can remember, she feels alive, none of her emotions frozen. He makes her feel like a woman, something she wanted and needed. But as much as he rouses her, she’s scared to death of him because he won’t permit her to retain any of her defenses.

An accomplished landscaper/gardener, Beth can’t help but compare him to her abusive husband who was also powerful but only interested in her response to pain, and wanting to hear her scream. Nolan notes her skin and bones appearance and is concerned about her fragility. He starts to work at padding her out, encouraging her to eat and making sure she finishes what he gives her. He encourages her to speak up, talk about herself and laughs when she shows annoyance at his tenacity. She is off balance with a man who shows patience and understanding and she finds herself warming to him even when she would rather insulate and remain detached.

She’s made a friend at Shadowlands—Jessica is the first person she’s been able to talk to in forever. However, poor Jessica makes a mistake and interrupts their conversation and ignores Nolan’s request for her to leave and he calls over Z to punish the bubbly woman. It’s Punishment at the stockades for her with Z saying, “Since you enjoy annoying Doms so much, I think we’ll let the Doms show their appreciation.” Later she meets Kari and is warmed to know she’s made yet another friend at the club. For a woman who has been on the run for so long, intimacy is profoundly moving.

When Nolan’s knowing fingers play her like a piano and she orgasms, they’re both surprised—he that he breached her barriers and trusted him to let go, she that she orgasmed at all. Her feelings scare her, however; she has no control when she’s with him and she opts to try a different Dom the next night she’s at Shadowlands. Bad mistake. The Dom she uses has no idea how to reach her and Nolan has to intercede. Beth is aghast at her own stupidity and that he viewed the awful scene. He talks at length with her about her fear and then punishes her by setting her up on Cullen’s bar as an ornamental trucker’s mud flap.

Nolan tells Beth that the one thing he insists upon is honesty. He warns her never to lie to him. He divorced his wife because she cheated on him and there is nothing he hates more than a liar. Could not admitting something be considered a lie, she mulls. How can she tell him she’s still a married woman with a psychotic husband dogging her heels? As they continue to get closer, the lie of omission weighs heavily on her. Her hard won freedom, her tiny peace of mind, the contentment she is gaining with Nolan is slipping away like fine sand through the narrow tube in an hourglass. Her

husband knows the general area she’s in after rifling through her mother’s mailbox and he is in Tampa searching for her. Oh, he has plans for his wayward little wife. Her punishment will take time and the pain will be unending. When he is finished with her this time, she will not be capable of running away ever again ...

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• Pleasure fizzed through her like a shaken-up soda.
• One eyebrow raised, and his gaze stabbed her to silence.
• [When Beth confides that Nolan is a bit scary, Jessica says …]“Oh please, that’s like saying Hannibal Lector [sic] only eats low-carb meals.’
• And the hint of laughter in his voice was like a warm spring shower on a parched garden.
•  “Glad my price-and-joys aren’t under her care’ Cullen says observing a hard mistress.
• “Oh, God,” she whispered. Her mind had gone out of focus. Her heart beat so forcefully it should have knocked him off of her.
He chuckled. “No need to go that far. ‘Oh, Master’ will do.”

Heroine’s favorite expression: (none)
Dom’s term of endearment: sugar; little rabbit

Lean On Me – book 4
Andrea Eriksson is a fiery and beautiful combination of Hispanic and Nordic parentage who, at 5'10" and solid with muscles, is often mistaken for a Domme. A proud woman who owns her own cleaning business, she has been unhappy with the BDSM clubs in Miami and turns to her best friend, Antonio, to call in a favor and get her into the private, very exclusive Shadowlands on a sub trainee basis, not knowing there will be built-in hostility from subs and Doms alike for doing so.

Cullen O’Keefe, in charge of training, notes her attitude matches her size; notes too the solid feel of her—it’s been a while since he’s had a woman who he didn’t fear hurting with his size.  While a confirmed bachelor, he is intrigued by the Amazon. She looks at him and inwardly frets that he’s so overwhelming—talk about instant domination! No man has ever towered over her or made her feel so unsettled.

When she’s handled, she has a habit of knocking a Dom’s hand away, much to their annoyance. She’s never submitted fully to anyone and when she’s scared she acts tough. Growing up in a rough neighborhood has given her a wariness towards all men. Without being aware of it, she challenges Master Dan who forces her to her knees. Later, she knocks Master Marcus’ hand off her shoulders. Cullen comes up with a unique punishment—she’ll forfeit clothing every time she lashes out. So when she takes a swing at Nolan for grabbing her arm and startling her, she is stripped of her clothes and then tied up in the Shibari art form. He adds a knot in the crotch for discipline and Cullen multiplies her torment by having her circle the bar for a half hour while that knot rubs her all the right ways and leaves her hot and bothered.

As the master in charge of training, Cullen must create enough attachment that subs want and need to please him but keep enough distance that they will bond with the right Dom when he came along. His well-ordered intention flies out the window when he deals with Andrea. Something about this beauty shakes the Dom up and the word ‘Mine’ hammers in his head when he thinks about her. The attraction is mutual and Andrea gives him her utter surrender one evening, telling him she only wants him to touch her and she masters his heart. They eventually spend an idyllic evening together at a private party Z gives for some of the Masters and their subs. There they finally give in to their passion for one another.

She meets the other subs and the women bond. We learn that Kari is now married and pregnant and Beth is learning self-defense. Andrea discovers Cullen is an arson investigator—a man of the law—and she is concerned he may be unable to overlook her past brush with the law and refuses to tell him about it.

Their future is jeopardized when a jealous trainee accuses Andrea of stealing money out of her locker. She’s been set up. Dan has access to sealed police records and knows her criminal background. She’s tried and convicted on a say-so, Dan throwing her clothing into her car like it’s trashed to be disposed of. Don’t ever come back, he warns. Only last night she lay in Cullen’s arms, now she is alone, the need to be held shaking her to her very core. Why did this happen when things in her life were finally starting to work? She begins to cry.

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• and jetted out in God-I-may-die jerks of his cock
• The furious look Andrea sent him should have had a flammable sticker applied to it.
• (Andrea’s aunt commenting on Cullen’s smile) “He’s just waiting to get you into bed. I have four children, and they didn’t arrive by stork. I have seen that look on a man’s face before.”
• “Shit. Fuck.” Dan paced across the office. “If she's not guilty... Hell, I feel like I ran over a puppy.”
• He barely managed to muffle his laugh. Damned if she wasn't even more contrary than Kari and Jessica. God, she pleased him.
• How would he ever explain to the ambulance crews that he'd chained his girlfriend out on the deck and killed her with too many orgasms?
• He'd taken her on a doghouse. From behind. Did that make her a bitch?

Heroine’s favorite expression: Dios!; Dios mio; Madre de Dios; Chingalo; Carajo; Hijo de puta; Estúpido baboso; pendejo; Chíngate cabrón 
[I loved that she is constantly cursing under her breath. She’s very real and we share her sense of outrage each time.]
Dom’s term of endearment: Chiquita, little sub, little tiger

Two thoughts here … why is Andrea always addressing Cullen with ‘Yes, Señor’? Wouldn’t that more likely be ‘Si, Señor’ instead? In for the penny, in for the pound, wouldn’t you say?

And two, Dan, a man of the law, is painted in a most awful light that he wouldn’t have tried to hear both sides out before casting judgment. You don’t expect a knee-jerk reaction to a man trained to examine evidence and follow leads. Especially over a woman he knows his friend Cullen is interested in! Z’s absence, when he always seems to be around so much so that Cullen called him ‘Mother Z’, is oddly missing at this pivotal moment! What a perfect opportunity for him to have put his unique talent to work and rescued the situation. I believe it could still captured the same sense of drama, if not more so and not altered the tenor of what came next in the story.

Make Me, Sir – book 5
Okay, I admit it. THIS is my favorite of all her works. The story of Marcus and Gabi has everything. It’s a thriller, it’s often laugh-out-loud hilarious, it’s romantic and it’s sensual.

When her friend Kim is kidnapped, Gabrielle Renard (Gabi to her friends), a victim specialist with the Miami FBI field office, learns that slavers are kidnapping rebellious BDSM subs across the country and her friend is one of four abducted from an Atlanta club with Miami being targeted next. Knowing the FBI is putting female agents into BDSM clubs as decoys, she volunteers to be one at Shadowlands. She is warned by Special Agent Kouros that the women being targeted are only blatantly rebellious subs. Noisy ones. The buyers want the pleasure of breaking their spirits. Kouros has been conferring with Z and tells her that the Shadowlands owner said she will need to demonstrate disobedient, insolent behavior and that means the trainee program or she won’t attract enough attention to get noticed. Kouros informs her that club owners are sworn to secrecy so no one else will know she’s playing a part, including the Dom in charge of the trainees, who, according to Z, is a hard ass when it comes to disrespectful subs. Gabi can read between the lines—she will be punished from a Dom who doesn’t know she’s playing a part.

Prosecuting attorney Marcus Atherton, model gorgeous, rich and powerful, stands tall and broad shouldered with piercing blue eyes he uses to quell a rebellious sub and put her in her place. He’s taken over for Cullen as the trainer for the sub program and is riled when Z tells him he must accept a new, rather misbehaved sub and keep her for at least a month before he gives up on her. It’s unlike Z not to talk new additions to the program over with him and Z admits he’s doing someone a favor. An unusual request.

The nicely padded 5'5" strawberry blond has had enough of stuffy suits to last a lifetime and views Marcus in his tailored suits warily. Initially Marcus reminds her of her father—cold and controlled, and she can’t help but goad him. She’s anything but boring and each night ups the brattiness to the consternation (and amusement) of Marcus.

She mouths off to Dan when she delivers drinks with “Here go, dude” and is turned into a coffee table by Marcus when she complains her feet are tired and warned that if she spills a glass, she’ll have to give a blowjob. When Marcus surprises her and she tips a glass, she’s forced to fellatiate one of the Doms but frets that ‘Biting it off would probably come across as a little too defiant.’

Part of her outrage is real, the other theatric; she must continuously goad and the hilarious bratty things she does and says amuse all the Doms who have to bite back their laughter. Marcus’ instincts cry out for him to hold her, shield and protect her even as he must dispense punishment for her infractions. The bond between them deepens, attraction taking on a fierce hunger.

What will happen when Marcus finds out he’s spanked and punished an innocent, vulnerable woman, a completely terrified social worker who is doing all this just to save her friend?

To add to the drama while all this is going on, Jessica feels confusion about the deference Z shows to the new sub. He is protective towards the woman and Jessica’s never seen him extend that sort of concern to a new sub. A knot of jealousy starts to form in her chest. Z’s college aged kids pick a bad time to visit, furthering Jessica’s insecurity on what her status is with her Dom. She starts questioning their longevity.

Two subs have been targeted by the spotter working for the agency tasked to acquire them for their slave trade. With every appearance at Shadowlands, Gabi must up the ante, be more bratty and more outrageous if she’s going to be a successful part of bringing the slave ring down. This is a two-part story. The conclusion is in book 6, To Command And Collar.

I laughed at the feisty Gabi throughout Make Me, Sir. Her character is easily the most endearing because, out of sense of loyalty to her friend Kim, she pulls some outrageous stunts in an effort to garner attention. It seems so unfair that she gets punished, however, since all her attention-getting efforts are only to draw out the kidnapper.

Some verbal examples of the goading sub:
Gabi to Marcus: “Are you always stupid, or is today a special occasion?”
Gabi to Nolan: “Are you the first in your family to be born without a tail?”
Gabi to Marcus: “I can’t believe that out of one hundred thousand sperm, you were the fastest.”
Gabi to Galen: “You know, any resemblance between you and a human being is purely coincidental.”

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• Cullen: “You know, Marcus you say fuck you almost as politely as the boss.”
• Would the Internet have instructions on how to shave down there without slicing off something essential?
• (Andrea seeing Marcus nude finally) As her insides melted, she checked the water around her to see if it had started to boil.
• “Is that your face or did your neck just throw up?”
• “Yes, I want fries—I mean children. With you.”
• They hadn’t allowed him to get lonely, but despite their company, he’d missed Gabi as if he’d misplaced a body part. His heart, maybe.

Heroine’s favorite expression: (her one liners are too numerous to list)
Dom’s term of endearment: sugar

To Command And Collar – book 6
This is a continuation of the drama book 5 started. It is a gritty, sometimes terrifying look at the flesh peddling industry and the abyss some women fall prey into.

It’s buyer’s night and three men are looking over the merchandise on a warm Florida evening. Three women appear before them, trembling, praying the hatred in their eyes doesn’t betray them. Raoul Sandoval, a Dom we’ve met in previous Shadowlands books, is posing as a rich buyer for the FBI investigation. He’s to peruse and report back. The moment he recognizes Kimberly from the photo Gabi showed him, however, he realizes he cannot leave her behind; he must save her even though her purchase jeopardizes the FBI case now in place. His conscience is heavy that he can’t save them all and must leave the other two to their fates.

Kimberly Moore (Kim to her friends) has been kidnapped by a slaver who sold her to Lord Greville, a sadist who repeatedly raped and beat her, housing and feeding her like some animal. She’s been returned for a refund to the Overseer, Dahmer (what kind of psychopath named himself after a serial killer, Raoul wonders), because she took a knife to the Lord trying to kill him. The attempt got her a beating so violent she vomited before she was locked up in a tiny dog cage too small to stretch out in. Dahmer is a greasy, dark character who enjoys his job a little too much. Broken, beaten, and subdued, Kim now lives only to escape.

Needing access to the inner sanctum of Dahmer’s auctions, Raoul agrees to audition a fireplay demonstration for him at Shadowlands in the near future. The auctions are big events with many buyers, lots of slaves and a large number of the slaver’s personnel all present. A titillating performance can gain him the much needed entrée where wealth buys the finest slaves and the FBI can bring down the operation and arrest all the conspirators and free the captive women. Dahmer reminds him there’s also the follow-up visit needed to prove the sub has met his standards; Kim will need to play a dutiful slave. After all, satisfaction guaranteed, right? He has the fight of his life on his hands—how to reach the fragile and broken woman and gain her trust so she can be strong enough to help with the FBI investigation, even while helping her to heal.

The next morning Gabi rushes to be with her rescued friend and both women fall into each other’s arms crying. The FBI shows up, at first angry that Raoul had made the purchase on his own (backed with money from Z) but the Special Agent admits he would have done the very same. In the days that follow at Gabi and Marcus’ home, and with the help of Faith, a psychologist, Kim starts having little victories over the traumatic nightmare she endured. Kim watches the love between Gabi and Marcus and seeing the tenderness is healing just in itself. All men are not the enemy Kim has to remind herself as she frequently slips into the darkness of her past, shuddering with the memory of being caged, of being whipped.

Jessica and a very pregnant Kari join Kim and Gabi for a girl afternoon and catch-up. At the end of their bonding and regenerative afternoon, the FBI shows up with Raoul. Problems. Kim cannot go home. The slavers have eyes everywhere and would kill her as a runaway. It would put her family at risk. Staying with Gabi and Marcus puts them at risk as well. Witness protection is possible but she would have to convince everyone she’s dead and that would put Kim’s mother through terrible trauma. Would Kim agree to help the FBI and pose as Raoul’s slave? It means moving in with Raoul and learning his habits, his protocols. It would only be for the duration of convincing Dahmer that Raoul is satisfied with his purchase. Kim thinks of the women she’s left behind. Can she turn her back on them? She firms her shoulders and agrees.

Raoul’s Dom instinct tells him to move slowly with small touches and verbal play. He seeks to heal the damage and do what he can but much of Kim’s turmoil is related to being enslaved and everything Raoul does brings back those memories. A simple touch makes her cringe thinking he will attack. He chooses to shower with her, taking turns to wash each other. He touches her in a nonsexual manner, building up her confidence and trust. He starts her on strength training in his home gym as well as lessons in self-defense, making sure that she eats well and gets plenty of sunshine. He begins to inexorably draw out the woman from underneath all the trauma.

But who will draw out Raoul’s? He has his own demons haunting him: a family that doesn’t understand his lifestyle, a failed Master/slave relationship with his ex wife that he can’t move past. The last thing he wanted in his newly built home is another slave. Despair edges through his defenses.

It’s the night of the meeting with Dahmer at Shadowlands. The regulars are on alert. The Masters’ subs whisper to Kim that she will be watched at all times and not to be afraid; she’ll be safe. But they can’t know that a private call went out the night before to the Overseer that makes things very unsafe for Kim. For it seems Lord Greville has just discovered the ‘fuckhole’ who tried to kill him wasn’t disposed of properly by his staff and instead turned back in for a refund. He very much wants his little slave back. It’s payback time, and he intends to have his hole in a hole—six feet deep.

Fun and Delicious Lines:
• Slave. The word sandpapered his nerves.
• Kari grinned. “In that case, you should have been at the last barbecue when Gabi called Marcus a cretin and asked him if he’d had an extra bowl of stupid that morning.”
• [Kim’s POV] Yesterday the scum-sucking algae eater had buckled leather cuffs on her wrists.
• “Yes, Master.” Homework. Frigging what-I-did-on-my-slavery-vacation homework.
• Her mouth dropped open, and her brain started to kick in, erratic as a motor with some salt water in the fuel.
• His lips quirked as if he was trying not to smile. “Next time when I say we will play, I do not mean hide-and-seek.”

The moment when Kimberly hides far back in the closet, trembling because she’s stolen some of Master Raoul’s sex toys she doesn’t want him to use on her is so rich in emotion I cried. She’s a small child right then, terrified she is going to be punished for doing something wrong. It’s one of the finest scenes I’ve read from Cherise, intimate, poignant, achingly visceral. Raoul is tender and  understanding, tucking her into his lap and against his chest and listening to her as she pours her heart out.

Heroine’s favorite expression: Drown him!
Dom’s term of endearment: pobrecita; kitten, gatita; Chiquita; carajo; sumisita; sumisa

Cherise’s work has gotten more gritty, tension filled and involving. From shy plump women who discover their submissive mien under the knowing hands of an alpha Dom to her most current work, she is working a broader palette these days with immersive elements that are sure to draw in more readers.

Things Consistent to this Writer That I Love:
• Every woman gets an adorable nickname by her dom: little thief, little vet, little cat, rebel, kitten, gatita, sumisa, sugar, little rabbit, etc.
• Every man’s eyes crinkle with pleasure when they smile.
• Secondary characters get fleshed out and made compelling. Secondary characters shift to their own storylines in her ongoing series so it behooves you to pay attention to the interactions of everyone.
• Her men are flawed, sometimes physically, but unrepentantly alpha. Unselfish, skilled lovers who take women who have often never known love, who almost always are not aware of their submissive nature, and bring out their sensuality.
• As her SHADOWLANDS series has progressed, the stories are meatier with taut drama.
• Her women have careers, often accomplished—gardener, singer/songwriter, accountant, advertising exec, businesswomen who are independent in their own right.
• There is the usually the threat of a psycho ex or business associate that threads believably through many of her stories, making her readers angsty to cheat like I did to get to the last chapter just to see the satisfying conclusions so they can take their time and relax as they read these often thinly veiled thrillers.

Unlike a lot of other erotic writers, she varies her terms so your mind isn’t caught in a loop of repeats. There is nothing I find that weighs down an erotic story than a poor sexual vocabulary. How many times have I seen a writer strive for eroticism but pull me up short, incongruent to the moment? It’s like short-sheeting a bed! Words carry imagery and can propel a story into memorable … or laughable. Cherise is a strong, gifted imaginative writer and I expect both the DARK HAVEN and SHADOWLANDS series to continue because new characters get folded into the stories and she makes all of them compelling enough you want to read their storylines as well.

Writer’s Strong Points:
•Good mental dialog for her females so we know exactly what they’re feeling or thinking. This can bring about hilarity as in the inner dialog of Kimberly Moore in To Command And Collar who wants to drown Raoul Sandoval every time she looks at him. No matter how many affectionate things he’s called her, she has to bite her tongue because her anger is so deep.
• Some wonderful turns of phrase:
He fondled her bottom for a long while, never touching anything, until all her anythings throbbed (TO COMMAND AND COLLAR)
the joy fractured and died, leaving her with the bitter taste of betrayal on her tongue.  (MAKE ME, SIR)
… all her fight fucked right out of her (DARK CITADEL)
her voice was like a melody of happiness and caring  (DARK CITADEL)
Odd how satisfying her little breast was, perching like a dove in his palm (BREAKING FREE)
“In the Shadowlands, lying at all is a problem; lying about having an orgasm is a crash-and-burn offense.” (LEAN ON ME)

With no exception, every one of her subs is inclined to snark. They’re strong women with smart opinions who are quick to outrage. Each winds up paired with a Dom who enjoys the boldness of their tongues even while having to punish the more severe brattiness. Jessica, for instance, has a habit of attacking men when she thinks a sub is being mistreated. It gets her frequently tied up and punished by Z. Cherise has given us subs who are witty, fun and people we’d like to know.

I enjoy a series, to see characters develop, intermingle, grow. She doesn’t disappoint, we catch up with each character from her previous story each time a new book rolls out.

Things I’d Say If I Could Talk to the Writer:
Cherise, you need to find a different way to talk scents! As only a frequent reader would probably note, you are repetitive when you refer to a woman smelling a man. ‘He smelled of x and y and himself (insert: name-of-character).’ I see a lot of writers using this same concept and it’s become hackneyed for me. You’re too strong a writer to fall into this pit.

A few examples …
She smelled of only soap and woman.
just the clean scent of soap and pine and ... definitely man.
Her scent—vanilla, citrus and woman—drifted to him …
She inhaled the clean scent of soap and man.
He smelled of subtly dark cologne, of soap ... of man.
He wore no cloying aftershave, and his scent of leather, soap, and man smelled just right.
She caught a hint of his scent—leather and soap and man

And the fact that every woman’s head fits into the hollow of her dom’s shoulder ‘as if designed for that purpose’ is a lovely way to talk about physical as well as emotional compatibility but after so many books, it’s overused.

Things I’d Like to See:
• Xavier’s story, how he came to own Dark Haven
• Sally needs a story!
• More story following the SHADOWLANDS subs’ interaction with each other. They’re an expanding team of women who care fiercely about each other, nurture and protect each other. I want moments that focus on them. Conversation, a night out, an afternoon shopping, dialog to continue their own storylines. In much the same way Christine Warren’s OTHERS fka FANTASY FIX group of girlfriends interact and support each other, I’d like to see the Shadowlands gals interact apart from their doms, even if it’s only to trade titillating stories. Baby shower for Kari, maybe? The wedding shower for Z and Jessica? Lots of opportunities for the gals to get together and talk.

If strong alpha men who will move heaven and hell for their women coupled with believable, moving storylines are your thing, Cherise Sinclair’s works will become some of your very favorites and you’ll find yourself recommending her to your friends who share similar interests. You can keep up to date on what’s in the works by subscribing to her website at 


Michele said...

Great article on one of the best authors out there! Sinclair is in a class by herself. I have also read all of her books. Avidscribe- you said you like when eyes crinkle when the Doms smile. I like it when she says, "His cheek creased" -which to me means sexy, crooked smile. I also like that all of her men use the backs of their knuckles to rub things-cheeks, nipples, etc.

Even though it's hard to pick just one, My favorite CS is Shadowlands Book 3- Breaking Free. It was magic for me. Beth and Nolan are two of my favorite characters put to page. The climb out of that slippery dark hole Beth was in, with Nolan pulling the rope, slowly and steadily, at his own pace. I found it inspiring. and a reminder of what the human spirit can overcome.
My favorite Book3 quote, "I don't have nightmares from killing cockroaches, sugar. But knowing he had you...hearing you scream...seeing you all bloody? Now that's going to bother me for a long time. And you're going to have to stay with me until it doesn't"
(Beth's reply)-"All right."
(Nolan's response)- "I figure in a year or two, I might be okay."
*sigh* I love Nolan!

I also loved Book 6, even though it was significantly darker. But the trust that grew between Master R and his sumasita was beautifully written, as only Sinclair can.

Master of the Mountain was my first intro to Sinclair, and I adore that book as well. I love when he makes her scream so loud in the woods from coming so hard, all the swingers at dinner are trying to figure out how they can get time alone with the person who induced that orgasm! lol

The scent thing - I get. It's important to me. Like I wish more authors would include music in their writings, like Sinclair does. But I will say this, there is a scent that is my husband's. One I can smell under the cologne and it mixes with his breath, and it smells like heaven. It's before a shower, but he's not dirty. He smells like man. My man. But I do like to know what men smell like. I like descriptors like fresh laundry, he smelled like he'd been hung from a clothesline, he smelled like clean sweat, he smelled like the sun.
Great post! Look forward to more

Anonymous said...

This genre is not my cup of tea but it was interesting to read and I've to admit that you did a hell of a job here !!!

Anonymous said...

... maybe I should have said a hell of a good job ... !!!

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