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REVIEW:  My Liege of Dark Haven by Cherise Sinclair

REVIEW: My Liege of Dark Haven by Cherise Sinclair

Dear Ms. Sinclair,

I’m pretty sure I’ve not read anything by you before. I saw Angela James talking about your book on Twitter and clicked over to Amazon to see whether the book might appeal to me.

 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.  – Goodreads Description

The blurb itself was enough to peak my interest, but it was the cover, showing a man’s back and long braid that really intrigued me. For some reason, I’m a sucker for a man with a long braid.

As the blurb says, Abby is facing losing her job at the university if she doesn’t live up to the maxim, “Publish or perish”. She needs something provocative to write about.  After being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, Nathan, who really wanted her to explore the D/s lifestyle with her, Abby decides to face her fear and goes to Dark Haven, a local BDSM club. There she hopes to covertly observe and then write a paper about the social interactions and hierarchy within the club. When she arrives, she discovers that the club has just lost its receptionist. Given that she definitely cannot afford the dues to the club, she decides to take the job. One of the perks of the club is being allowed to play. Abby has absolutely no intention of playing; she’s there to study the behavior of the members. That is, until she meets the club’s intriguing owner, Xavier Leduc.

Xavier has been mourning his wife, Catherine, since she died five years ago. In the time since her sudden and unexpected death, he’s become known as a player. He generally has a few women he dates, a slave who lives at home with him and a play partner at the club. But he’s committed to no one, knowing that he’d never be able to duplicate his relationship with Catherine. But when he meets Abby, he notes immediately that she’s both a born submissive and has absolutely no idea what that means. He decides that he’ll begin her training by having her assist him in a demonstration with a younger Dom who needs some guidance. After the exercise, Xavier collars Abby indicating to club members that they’ll need to seek his permission before playing with her. He also tells her in no uncertain terms that she will not be permitted to just observe what goes on in the club, rather she must participate.

Abby is wholly disconcerted to find that Xavier is insistent that she join in the activities of the club. But in order to complete her research, she decides to give it a try. As she and Xavier begin to play, she finds that he demands her full attention, asks invasive questions, and is constantly putting her body, which she’s terribly self-conscious about, on display. And then there is the connection that she is beginning to feel with him. She’s very clear that Xavier doesn’t “do” relationships, but the insight he shows into her personality and foibles and his insistence that she never put him off with a lie or evasion is building her trust and her feelings for him. After they have sex for the first time, Xavier unceremoniously leaves Abby, realizing that he didn’t think of his wife once – something that’s never happened before. But Xavier can’t seem to stay away from Abby. She’s a gentle soul, one who he feels both responsible for and connected to. He continues to see her, and his feelings continue to build. As Abby tries desperately not to fall for Xavier, he’s busy falling deeply for her.

I really enjoyed this book. I formed an emotional bond with Abby almost immediately, even if I did question her motivation for joining the club. I felt like her reaction to the intimacy that Xavier was forcing on her, her body issues and her bewilderment that someone like Xavier would be interested in her was something I could really relate to. Her consternation at being told she needed to wear less at the club was exactly how I’d feel, and I appreciated her thought process behind taking off her top or bottom — it felt very real to me. I also like Xavier. He was domineering at times, but tempered that with a lovely need to take care of Abby, making him a Caregiving Alpha, my very favorite hero-type. He showed emotional awareness and thoughtful care, and I fully understood his reluctance to becoming entangled with Abby, and more, how she fell head over heels in love with him.

If I had any complaint about the book it would be that Abby’s stepsister, Janae, who played a small but crucial role in the climax of the story, was straight out of central casting. I would have liked to have understood more about her, why she behaved the way she did. Instead, she was just written EEEVIL, which was a bit much for me. Otherwise, this is a well written, deeply enjoyable romance featuring truly likeable characters and some very spicy sex scenes that build the connection and intensity of emotion between the characters. I give My Liege of Dark Haven a solid B.

Kind regards,

Kati

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Beloved Vampire by Joey Hill

Dear Ms. Hill:

I remember when I received a copy of this book, I meant to just casually flip through it but from the very beginning I was riveted. I remember thinking that I resented having to put the book down to cook dinner and do my daily ablutions.

Jessica Tyson was a servant to Lord Raithe, a cruel vampire master.   “Once or twice, she made the mistake of believing he could do no worse to her, but evil was bottomless.”   She managed to kill him one day but her bond with him meant that she was dying as well. Her sole desire is to find the tomb of Farida and her lover and rest herself in peace with them.   Where to die is the only choice left for her and free of her master, Jess clasps that close.

The love story of Farida and her lover, Lord Mason, was one that rivaled Romeo and Juliet only it appeared to be a true account. Jess had found a journal of Farida’s in her master’s rare book library. Before her abduction, Jess was a research assistant for the archeology and history departments in Rome. Her love of the arcane knowledge of the past was one thing that managed to sustain her over the long years of captivity and abuse.

She was able to piece together through cross referencing historical texts that Sheikh Asim, Farida’s father, had indeed lived at one time and that during his life, he was assisted in a desert battle for power by one Prince Haytham who was accompanied by a British soldier, Lord Mason.   With some luck and fortitude, she was introduced to a descendant of Prince Haytham’s who had researched his only family history and had a few letters from Prince Haytham about Farida and Lord Mason.

Sheikh Asim would not allow Farida to join Lord Mason and so they fled together. One day, the Sheikh’s forces captured Lord Mason and through him, Farida.   They killed Farida in a cruel manner for bringing dishonor to their family. Lord Mason escaped alive but not in time to save his love but he stole her body away.   Prince Haytham writes to his family:

Lord Mason cannot be found when he does not wish to be. Which means he is seeking their blood as much as they are seeking his. I expect they will not be dissuaded from this now, but from my experience, they would be wise to leave him alone and let the desert absorb his rage and grief. They will not find her grave-’it will be only where a desert tiger can find it.

Close to the end of her life, Jess makes a painful journey in the Sahara led by three guides she has no doubt will rob her blind once she arrives at her destination but she is hopeful that the exorbitant amount of money she pays them will be enough to see her to the end.

Lord Mason was no ordinary British soldier but a vampire, one of the oldest and most powerful, but in the day of Farida, even his power could not keep her alive.   For an immortal, the death of a beloved is a type of a killing.   He has suffered everyday, inflicted by his loss. Lord  Mason knows of Jessica Tyson. Every vampire does.   She committed an unforgivable sin, that of killing her master.   A slight like that is met with death.   Despite this, Jess’s shortened tale of abuse moves Lord Mason and irrationally, he decides to help her.

This story is an erotic romance wherein the sexual nature of the characters play an important part of the conflict. Jess, like Farida before her, is a natural submissive. Part of her nature is to please and submit.   Lord Raithe recognized that in Jess and it is why he killed her fiance and threatened her family, all to take possession of this true prize.   Lord Raithe perverted what could be a true bond between a Master and a human servant whereas Farida described it so beautifully:

A lifetime of never voicing my angers, and I could not stop myself from speaking sharply to him tonight. I feared I might be beaten, but he simply shouted back, and in time we were so amazed with ourselves, we laughed. When I asked him why he had not punished me, he told me that I would be, but he needed time to devise the proper rebuke. And Allah be merciful, he found one, such that I became determined to defy him at every possible opportunity . . .

I thought the juxtaposition of the relationship that Farida had with Lord Mason and the joy she found in submission and pain was brilliant against the humiliation experience by Jess.   It was through Farida’s words that we can see what a gift Jess’ nature could be under the right circumstances.   It provides the basis upon which we believe that Jess and Lord Mason can belong together.

In order for them to be together, though, Lord Mason must overcome his fear of losing another beloved, Jess must come to grips with being a natural submissive, the two must find a cure for a vampire wasting illness, and convince the council that Jess should not be terminated.

In the end, the most serious complaint I had was that I was expecting the story to go farther and to some extent was a bit disappointed.   One of the particular elements I enjoyed about the first book in the Vampire series was how hard core these vampires were, dark, hungry for blood, and a not a little inhuman.   The love story, though, between Jess and Lord Mason, was beautifully done. I couldn’t help but cheer for the happy ending for both characters who had suffered so much but found solace in each other. B+

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.