The Edge of the Enforcer is the fourth book in the Dark Haven world … well sort of. The first two novella-length books set in Dark Haven were in anthologies, Doms of Dark Haven and Doms of Dark Haven 2, and the third book was My Liege of Dark Haven. For this fourth book, Cherise chose Zander DeVries, the “Enforcer” of the San Francisco BDSM club called Dark Haven, owned by Xavier, who was featured in Book 3. Book 4 pulls in the main characters from previous Dark Haven books and the two Mountain Masters’ books.
Don’t miss the chance to win an e-book copy of Master of the Mountain. Read through to the end to find out how to win.
What’s Edge of the Enforcer all about?
Alexander “Zander” DeVries is an operative for Simon Demakis’s security company (Simon was in the first Doms of Dark Haven antho) and a part-time mercenary. DeVries has just come back from a mercenary kidnap-and-rescue mission where one of his fellow mercs was killed and deVries was shot. As a Dom with sadistic proclivities, after such a mission, he really needs to work out his anger, frustrations, and just all-round pissed-off-ness on some poor masochist’s body. Since deVries has a lot of stress and dark emotions to shed, he can’t trust himself to scene with a sweet sub like Lindsey who owes him a blow job and anal sex, a debt she incurred by losing to him in the Dom-sub paint ball games (from the play party at Logan Hunt’s mountain lodge/resort in My Liege of Dark Haven).
Lindsey, who is attracted to deVries, is not into pain. She knows she owes him, but assumes since he hasn’t bothered to collect that he’s not interested in her. She feels it’s probably a good thing since she can’t allow herself to get involved with anyone because she’s on the run from crooked law enforcement officers who’ve framed her for two murders. Until she decodes some encrypted files and proves her innocence, she has to remain solo, just in case she needs to pick up and run.
Her plan to stay uninvolved with deVries goes awry when he chooses to call in the debt she owes him. He gives her a whole night of fabulous DS play and hot, Hot, HOT sex. The morning after he mistakes something she says and it triggers one of his “hot” buttons. When he leaves, he does so in a callous manner that hurts Lindsey and allows her own insecurities to raise their ugly heads.
But the misunderstanding is temporary. After deVries seeks her out, arriving just in time to rescue her from a bad situation in a dangerous neighborhood, she’s hooked on deVries.
But is deVries hooked on her? Can Lindsey handle his level of sadism? Can he be happy with a sweet sub who likes rough sex and some erotic pain, but no more? And even if the sex issues work out, will her past force her to leave deVries, the only man she has ever truly loved?
Since I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns Cherise takes the reader through, I’ll just leave you with those questions. You need to read the book to find the answers.
Trust me, if you liked Sam and Linda’s story from Masters of Shadowlands series [This Is Who I Am], you’ll love deVries and Lindsey’s story.
Both Sam’s book and deVries’s deal with the emotional and psychological needs of the SM dynamic (and other plot issues, of course). While it’s true Sam and deVries are both classified as sadists, they aren’t identical in their needs and urges.
For example, Sam likes to work with true masochists, and if they are also submissive, like Linda, then all the better. Hurting a true masochist makes Sam feel good in that he is fulfilling the masochist’s need for pain. He pushes Linda’s limits, knowing that is what she needs to release her pent up tensions. Sam’s sadism and Linda’s masochism satisfy their particular emotional/psychological needs and are a part of their “normal” sex life when they become partners. Their relationship is, in a way, symbiotic. Putting Linda into subspace, puts him into Dom-space.
DeVries likes to mete out pain to release his own tensions. His role as the Enforcer of Dark Haven allows him to alleviate his tension often, allowing him control in all other aspects of his life. When his stress gets too strong, he needs to scene — and only male masochists can handle the punishment he dishes out. But after he’s meted out the pain and shed his demons, he wants sex — and not with the male masochists he’s hurt. At that point, he looks for female subs as partners. The resulting scene can include rough sex. It can be D/s. It can be sensual, almost vanilla. It can include a lower level of pain per the sub’s tolerance levels.
DeVries knows himself and his urges well enough to accept that he doesn’t have to have a masochist in his personal sex life/relationship. He could be happy living with a sweet sub like Lindsey. This is unlike Sam who needs a submissive masochist for an intimate relationship outside the club. DeVries can slake his strongest sadistic urges at the club with a male masochist and then go home and make love to a woman like Lindsey.
Does deVries push Lindsey’s limits on pain? Sure, but he also knows when to call a halt. DeVries can also be sweet. He sleeps with Lindsey after he collects the debt she owes, giving her more pleasure than she has ever known. He then stays the night — and he cuddles!
The above is an example of why I like all of Cherise Sinclair’s erotic BDSM romances. She focuses on how BDSM works for the individual. She doesn’t paint all sadists, all masochists, all Doms and subs with the same broad brush. Her characters come across as real people and not caricatures. The fact I can even see Sam and deVries as romantic heroes is why I consider Cherise Sinclair the premier BDSM romance author. I believe in Sam and deVries. I like them. I want to meet them. They are good men despite the fact they like their sex lives with a huge-ass smattering of kink.
If someone had ever told me, I would enjoy and want to re-read erotic romance stories in which the hero was a sadist and who caused his lover pain — I would’ve called them crazy. But Sam’s story is one of my top five favorite Cherise books, and deVries’s just bumped another book down a notch. [I’ll list my top five fave Cherise books at the end — this is determined by how many times I’ll go to one of them for a comfort read.]
Cherise’s characters, be they Doms, subs, masochists, sadists, lovers of menage, new to the BDSM scene or veterans, are not one-dimensional. They have real lives. Some clean offices. Some own construction companies. Some are kindergarten teachers. Some are ex-military and work in security or law enforcement. They have families. They give back to their communities. They are, in fact, people you might run across at the local grocery store and think, “hey, that person is really nice.”
Cherise’s characters are you and me. Their sexual preferences are just not vanilla.
Other than strong characters with real emotions and real lives – – what makes Cherise a top notch author in any genre, not just romance?
A. She plots extremely well. Her romance arcs have just enough angst to make the characters work through things to reach their happy ever after. She smartly avoids the super-angst of soap operas. [May I just say I hate super-angst and TSTL characters who don’t talk to each other?] It’s a fine balance, but she perches on that narrow line very well, making her stories often heart-wrenching. A reader knows going into one of Cherise’s books that she will be put through an emotional wringer, but that there will be a happy-ever-after for the main characters when the end is reached.
The external conflicts usually have some sense of danger or suspense which propels the story along at a good pace and puts extra pressure on the characters who are struggling with the emotional issues of trust and love. I have to say I am a sucker for external conflicts that exacerbate the characters’ personal journeys. It’s what I write, and what I like to read.
B. Cherise’s voice is clear and strong with a hint of playfulness — and after all, sex, even kinky sex, should be fun. Her voice has a strength of purpose. What purpose? Showing a sense of right and wrong in both the BDSM world and in the real world in which her characters act out their stories. There is a deep sense of justice and humanity in Cherise’s books that sucks me in.
C. Her sense of place is spot on. You always know where you are and what things look, smell, and sound like. Setting is important — engaging the senses is important — and Cherise knows that and delivers. She also never sacrifices the story to showcase nit-picky details. No info dumps in her writing. Cherise knows what she is — she is a story-teller, not an interior decorator or a travelogue writer.
So, if you haven’t read a Cherise Sinclair erotic romance — and you are an open-minded reader who enjoys being entertained by excellent writing — give her a try.
I promised to list my Top Five Cherise Sinclair faves. These are the books I like to re-read when I can’t find anything new to read and I want a well-told story with characters I like — and, of course, hot sex.
Monette Michaels’ Top Five Fave Cherise Sinclair Books:
1. The Dom’s Dungeon – a stand-alone book. I love the set up. I love the humor. I love Alex’s dominant traits and his humanity. I love this book so much I own it in e-book and print. It’s my first pick when I need a sexy comfort read to take me away from the stress of a bad day.
2. Breaking Free, Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 3 – Beth and Nolan’s story. This is a sigh-worthy book. And a several hankie story. Nolan is rough and tough and scary-looking, but he has a mushy middle when it comes to Beth. Beth has had a horrific past, but has valiantly rebuilt her life. She still has fears and needs which are often in conflict. She is a true submissive, but her trust has been so abused she has a hard time getting past her fears. She can’t believe her good fortune in finding Nolan, the prefect Dom and lover for her. The late-in-the-book crisis is perfect (which demonstrates that Cherise has the Three-Act plot structure down well) and the scene leading to the HEA in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. I also own this one in both e-book and print.
3. If Only, Master of the Shadowlands, Book 8 — This book features a menage relationship among three characters who were supporting characters in past books in this series. Cherise gave enough hints in earlier books that these three would scene. The book was worth waiting for. The heroine is sub Sally, who is very outgoing and smart (Master’s in Computer Forensics smart), and the two FBI agents, Galen and Vance, who led the investigation into the sex-slave-trafficking story arcs from Books 5, 6, and 7. Galen and Vance finally get Sally where they want her, and discover she is not the carefree sub she presents to the world. Each character has a bunch of emotional baggage which complicates their being together while they all, independently and then together, attempt to shut down the last vestiges of the trafficking ring. I normally do not like menage books, but this one I like. It works. The three need each other. This is the power of Cherise’s writing – she pulled me into these three characters’ story and convinced me the menage would work for them.
4. This Is Who I Am, Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 7– Sam is a sadist, still stinging from a really bad marriage and divorce. He helped rescue Linda from the sex slave traffickers (in To Command and Collar) and she is just trying to forget what had happened and get back to her normal life. But she can’t. She’s not “normal,” whatever in the hell that is. She is a masochist and a submissive. She “needs” the release pain gives her in order to deal with every day life. She visits Shadowlands and finds the one Dom who can give her what she needs is Sam. In his own way, Sam needs Linda as much as she needs him. I am so not into pain, but Linda’s character is so finely drawn that as a reader I understand why Linda needs it. Some people run miles and miles a week or exercise to the point of exhaustion or do extreme sports to get the endorphin high that allows them to function on a daily basis. Linda needs pain and then the pleasure. Sam gives her both. I went into the book with trepidation. I was so sure I wasn’t going to like Sam the sadist, but I ended up loving him. He and Linda are perfect together — and the life they forge is “normal” for them.
5. Edge of the Enforcer, Dark Haven 4 — I explained why I liked this book above. DeVries cuddles! And likes to perform oral sex. And has a wicked way with a Violet Wand. Says it all. I’ll also add that Xander and Lindsey are perfect together. I imagine them getting married, having lots of babies, and being blissfully happy. Yeah, I’m a romantic. But so is this book.
What is YOUR favorite Cherise Sinclair book and why? One comment will be chosen and the winner will receive an e-book copy of Master of the Mountain.
Visit Cherise Sinclair’s web site to find out more about her books.