Andrea wants a Dom that she can truly submit to, one that is tougher than the guys in the slum she grew up in, but so far she is having no luck. Then her friend, Antonio, calls in a favour with Master Cullen, training master of the Shadowlands, who reluctantly takes her on as a trainee. Annoyed at being coerced into taking on a trainee he didn't want, Cullen begins to train Andrea with the intention of making her quit or kicking her out. As he continues to train her, however, he starts to realise he doesn't want that at all.
I have been looking forward to Master Cullen's book ever since I met him in Club Shadowlands
. I don't know what it is about him; perhaps it is the fact that he acts as the bartender in the Shadowlands and he has played quite a big role in the other three books in the series (mainly because quite a bit of action is centred around the bar). He didn't disappoint. Cullen, despite his attempts to be gruff and cold, is a tender master, sexy and powerful but with a soft squishy centre. I loved the interaction between him and his dog; it showed another side to him other than the Master side.
Then, there was Andrea. I absolutely adored her character. She was very different to the characters of Jessica, Kari and Beth, having grown up in the slums and having learnt how to stand up for herself (and fight). For example, every time a Dom kind of sneaked up on her she would whip around and punch him. You can imagine the consequences of punching a Shadowlands Master! Andrea was certainly a fiesty, fierce sub, which just made it all the more satisfying when she submitted. She also was tall and had some muscles, which made her a lot different from the petite, curvy subs of the first two books, and the skinny Beth. And she was very independent, which was very odd for a sub, but it definitely made sense for her character (though it caused all sorts of problems). I thought she and Cullen were perfect for each other. :)
I really enjoyed the plot of this one. It was quite slow and character driven, as opposed to the suspense-filled excitement that was Breaking Free
. It felt a bit like the calm before the storm, if the synopsis of the next book is anything to go by. I enjoyed the fact that there were kind of two climaxes (no pun intended). First, the conclusion of the thievery plotline (which is mentioned in the synopsis), and then the bump in the relationship afterwards. I really liked the fact that the book didn't just end after the thievery plotline. It made the whole thing seem more real and organic, rather than just a plot for a novel.
One of the only things that bugged me in Lean on Me
was the overuse of Spanish slang. It's always a bit jarring when an author sprinkles in random foreign words to make a character seem bilingual, but it really didn't make sense with Andrea. Sure, she was half-Hispanic, but she grew up mainly with her Scandinavian father. Also, the bilingual people I've met just don't talk like that - they talk in English, or in whatever language is their native one. They don't randomly switch between the two. This was a minor point, however. I feel that, technically, the writing has moved on and improved a hell of a lot since the first book. At least Sinclair has stopped going on about wombs tightening.
I liked the introduction to Master Marcus, who is one of the main characters of the next novel in the series. Though we didn't really get much insight into his personality, I couldn't help but swooning a little every time he talked. There was something about his accent. I'm not really sure what kind of accent it was, not being American, but I loved the way he said 'darlin''. It reminded me of a cowboy, and I like cowboys.
On an entirely separate note, I squeed so much when we found out that Kari was having a baby
! Eeeee! <3 Even though Dan was a total dick at one part of this book (though he had his cop/best friend hat on), Kari and Dan still remain my favourite couple of the series, though I think Andrea and Cullen are pretty close behind.
The ending of this book was one of the sweetest, cutest things I have ever read. Seriously, you need to read it to understand, but awww. <3
Overall, I really enjoyed this installment of the Shadowlands books, and I can't wait to read the next one. I am sad it's not a Master Raoul book, but Master Marcus seems like an intriguing successor to the Doms that have led before. :)