When Jessica drives her car into a ditch in the middle of a storm, she doesn't realise that the house she seeks shelter in is a private BDSM club (on Saturday nights, anyway). At first, she's horrified at the things she sees, but Master Z stirs things in her that she's never felt before, and she suddenly finds herself wanting to try a lot of new things.
Before I say anything else about this book, I want to say I loved the intimate warning note at the beginning of the book, which gave some really good advice to anyone wanting to get involved in the BDSM lifestyle. I haven't read any Cherise Sinclair before this, but my respect for her skyrocketed upon reading that. It helped that the book that followed was enjoyable, sexy and well-written.
Of course, there were a couple of problems I had with it that prevented it from reaching the lofty heights of five stars in my mind.
Firstly, the plot. Well, the beginning of the plot, anyway. The device that delivered Jessica into Master Z's arms, the car crash and the storm, was rather cliche. It was like reading the beginning of a cheap horror novel, without screaming at the protagonist not to go into the scary house. Then, I didn't really understand why Z wouldn't just let the poor girl get dried off and hole up in a spare room until the storm passed. No, she had to sit in the entryway, wet and shivering, until she signed a contract detailing the rules of his BDSM club. She was so cold and soaked that she didn't bother reading it - I don't blame her at all! He could have at least let her get dry and warm before thrusting the contract on her. Master Z, you failed at some basic human decency at the beginning of the book. I dread to think what might have happened if you weren't interested in her. Look at me, it makes me so mad I'm a little bit incoherent.
To be fair, despite this, Master Z (aka Zachary) redeems himself throughout the rest of the story. His presence, especially when he's in full on Dom mode, is intense. I particularly loved the bits of the story that were from his pov, because his head (even in third person) was a nice place to be. Master Z had another problem that put me off giving this book five stars, and that was the mind reading thing. When confronted about it, he admits that he is a) a psychologist and b) he can read people's emotions if they're nearby. I'd have been a lot happier without the vague supernatural twist. It felt... out of place, really. Maybe this won't be so much of an issue once I've read the later books about Club Shadowlands.
Of course, there's a lot of good things about this book.
I really liked the character of Jessica. She was a little bit stupid for signing the contract without reading it, but I can't blame her. She was freezing. What I admired about Jessica was how brave she was. I loved that she tried to 'help' subs, and I loved that she took everything Master Z did to her in her stride. It really drove home that submissive does not equal weak.
I also really like how the relationship developed between Master Z and Jessica. Sinclair warns us at the beginning of the book that, in the realm of a romance novel, relationships develop a lot faster than they should in real life. Despite the speed of this relationship, I really believed it. I guess being able to read about it from both Master Z and Jessica's points of view helped.
The sex in the book was really good. It was hot, steamy and well-written. My one problem with it was that Sinclair kept talking about Jessica's womb. Womb =/= vagina. Also there were a couple of occasions where I couldn't picture the position Jessica had been tied in, but I'm not sure if that was a me problem or a book problem. Aside from that, though... *fans self*
Jessica, being new to the world of BDSM, got a lot of things explained to her, which was great for a first book in the series. I especially liked the emphasis on safe words and the club rules, designed to keep both Doms and subs safe. Safety is a major aspect in BDSM and I'm glad it was portrayed as such here. I also liked that Sinclair showed the effect having to punish Jessica had on Master Z - that aspect is often overlooked, and it's really what started to warm me to his character (after the entry incident).
Overall, if you're looking for a good introduction to BDSM erotica, this is a good book to pick up. Although a pretty intense introduction, it takes time to explain things. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series. :)