At 543 pages, reading the eighth installment in Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands series was like running the longest, sexiest marathon of my life. And, when I crossed the finish line, it made me want to skip around my house singing, “Threesomes and bondage and FISTING, oh, my! Threesomes and bondage and FISTING, oh, my!” (Of course, wouldn’t have gone over so well with my decidedly vanilla suburban family, so I refrained.)
I admit that I’ve been waiting for this novel with equal parts nervousness and breathless anticipation since we were first introduced to Galen and Vance. With each new book in the series, I grew more and more curious to see the dynamic between the two strong, domineering men and how it would be possible for them to successfully co-top a submissive. A sexy threesome in the Shadowlands?! Sure. No problem. But over the long-term…? How would that work? What would that look like?!
I shouldn’t have been worried, though, because HOT DAMN! Galen and Vance co-topped the hell
out of Sally!
It’s clear that Sinclair had to make some intelligent creative choices in order to make this trio work in a believable manner – one false move and Sally would have felt like a chew toy caught between two rabid pit bulls. To avoid this, she eliminated all competition between Galen and Vance (both personally and professionally) right from the get-go. It was fascinating to watch these two alpha males joke with each other, support each other, and nurture each other just as brothers or best friends would do, and then turn around and work seamlessly together to bring Sally to screaming orgasm after screaming orgasm.
But despite the joke I made above, the mere mention of fisting is usually enough to send me running screaming in the opposite direction and the bond between Galen and Vance, alone, wouldn’t have been enough to make all the kinkier, more hardcore aspects of the story work. No, Sinclair needed to establish genuine trust and a sense of caring between her main characters for that. Thankfully, Galen and Vance’s innate goodness, their sense of honor, and the protectiveness that they immediately extend to Sally did the trick. With this trust firmly in place, I was free to enjoy the mental control these Doms exerted over Sally to keep her off balance, while at the same time playing her body like a fiddle. And play they did! Again and again and again… ;)
I also have to give Sinclair props for Sally’s character. She was intelligent, sassy, career driven, brave, and playful – everything I love in a heroine. Her impish behavior made for plenty of sweet, funny moments in the story (I loved the naked water gun fight!), yet at the same time, the brick wall she created around her heart made her vulnerable and complex enough to be interesting. I thought that her bravery and her healthy dose of righteous fury towards the Harvest Association made her the perfect submissive for two FBI agents.
Overall, I think Sinclair has done a fabulous job developing the Harvest Association storyline over the last several books. At times she’s given it prominence in the story, at other times she’s let it take a backseat to the relationship angle of things. By alternating between ramping up the violence and letting it simmer she’s managed to keep it fresh and engaging rather than seem like something readers have to put up with in order to get their HEA. It was great to see it taken down once and for all, though, and seemed completely fitting that it was the Feds and their imp that would put the final nail in the Association’s coffin. A satisfying end to a well-crafted plot arc.
As much as I liked this book and enjoyed reading about such an unconventional relationship, I guess I have to admit to still having a bit of a monogamy bias; I could read about their threesomes all friggin’ day (and I did
thank you very much!), but the instant Sinclair started down that wedding aisle, I couldn’t contain the eye rolling. Call me narrow minded, but it just seems too ludicrous to me in the long-term. Meh! It was one minor thing in an otherwise delightfully sexy book.
Verdict: Though the first two or three books were only passable, the Masters of the Shadowlands series has unquestionably gained momentum with every book. As the eight installment in the series, Sally and the Feds’ story, If Only
, was so friggin’ hot I think at one point my brain cells melted and leaked out through my ears. Trust me when I say that you WANT to read this book!