Abby Bern is in real trouble. She’s facing a possible lay-off thanks to budget cuts and her romantic relationship is over because she’s not interested in playing sub to her boyfriend’s dominance. Convinced that the only possible way to save her job is by conducting some provocative research and publishing a paper, she decides to make the BDSM lifestyle her subject. She shows up at the local club dressed like a domme to do some fieldwork and finds herself volunteering for the open receptionist position as her entree into the club. It seems like it’s full speed ahead until she meets Xavier Leduc, her new boss and owner of the club.
Xavier has been active in the community for a long time and is respectfully referred to as My Liege by both dominants and submissives who frequent the club. Since the death of his wife, Xavier trains slaves but has not really found a submissive. Well, that’s about to change when Abby puts out her hand to shake his, as though she was in a business meeting with an equal, and all his senses come alive. It will be his pleasure to help Abby discover her submissive side and to truly explore her sensuality. I love the warm, caring emotional side to the strong masterful men that the author writes about, but I became an Xavier fan when, first, he admits to Abby he was wrong not once but twice – that qualified him as a king in my book – and, second, when he brings her home and promptly proceeds to extend his aftercare to the puppies she’s fostering.
Their relationship is taking off and finding its rhythm when a serpent in the form of the ex-boyfriend shows up at a weekend play party and promptly does a public expose of Abby’s reasons for being in the lifestyle. All of Abby’s new-found friends desert her, determined to protect their privacy. When it seems like it’s the end of the story and how will the romance and friendships move forward, rescue comes in the form of Xavier, who, deeply disturbed, goes for a walk and steps off the edge of a cliff. Well, all the other friends from San Francisco have left the weekend haven of Bear Flats and Xavier needs a ride home, as well as a temporary caregiver, opening up the opportunity for them to spend time together and work through the sense of betrayal they both feel. As Abby moves in with Xavier and they get to know one another, she starts to discover all the other facets of Xavier that he has compartmentalized and smashes these artificial barriers. At the same time she herself becomes the target of all those subs jealous of the Xavier time she’s getting.
Determined to keep Abby or little Fluff, as he calls her, in his life, Xavier knows the only way the members of the club will accept and forgive her is if they participate in a public punishment. He comes up with a very creative way to punish and protect her and also gain her whole-hearted acceptance into the scene. Just as Abby has freed him from his past and opened him to love again, he in turn also helps her deal with and conquer her insecurities, particularly her beautiful stepsister, who’s stolen every boyfriend away from her. I really appreciate how he frees her to fly when he supports her but lets her deal with her stepsister on her own.
The author excels in love stories which make a strong, emotional connection to the reader with her handsome, confident, and, yes, “masterful” heroes and beautiful, vulnerable heroines, who, while they may be submissive to the right master, are strong in their own way as they deal with real life challenges. It seems that I am not alone in my thinking, because I was pleased to see that this book is No. 19 on the Amazon bestseller list. I am so glad that I accidentally stumbled upon my first book by Cherise Sinclair, which led me to promptly read her backlist. I also had the good fortune to meet with her at RT 2011 in Los Angeles, where she gifted me with my very own set of miniature handcuffs. I do want to caution you that some of her books are not for the faint of heart and do contain elements of BDSM, but what I enjoy the most is it’s BDSM with a heart and not just erotica. I am eagerly awaiting the continuation of her Shadowland series slated to come out later this year.
Threatened by university cutbacks, Professor Abigail Bern’s only hope is to publish a provocative research paper—soon. Planning to covertly observe behavior in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she takes a receptionist job. When the owner calls upon her to assist in a demonstration, she’s appalled. Then fascinated. Under the unyielding hands of the master known as my liege, she discovers a need to be more than an observer.
His late wife had been the center of his life, and Xavier Leduc wants no other. But when his new receptionist does her utmost to keep an emotional distance from him, he’s intrigued and digs deeper. She’s adorable. Intriguingly intelligent, beautifully submissive, sweetly vulnerable. He soon realizes her defenses are keeping her on the fringe of her sexuality—and her life. As he draws her into fuller participation, she unconsciously does the same for him. She begins to fill his world.
Ever since the night she met my liege Xavier, Abby has questioned everything she believes about herself. She’s falling for the stern owner of Dark Haven and thinks he’s beginning to care for her…until the day he learns why she’s in his club.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: