Friday, December 2, 2011

To Command and Collar by Cherise Sinclair

Cherise Sinclair is the author who introduced me to the exciting world of BDSM through her Masters of the Shadowlands series. Every story has been sweet, funny, and very sexy, and the Masters and their subs are always wonderful, loving, and sometimes emotionally and physically scarred people who I can’t help but care about. I can’t explain it, but there’s just something in the way Ms. Sinclair tells a story, the way she pulls us into the minds and hearts of these people that makes everything between them feel so… right. And while this was definitely not the story I expected, nor can I say I even begin to understand the Master/slave relationship, I still loved it. It pushed some boundaries for me, made me uncomfortable at times, but most importantly – it had me thinking about other peoples’ needs, not judging theirs based on my own, and not only trying to understand, but wanting to understand where those needs come from. And in the end, it doesn’t matter where they come from, only that they are people – just like you and me, who want to love and to be loved in return.

Okay, so about the story. To Command and Collar, the sixth book in the Masters of the Shadowlands series, was much more intense than the previous books and the most emotionally draining of them all. Following right on the heels of Make Me, Sir, the Shadowlands Masters are once again working with the FBI to take down the sex slave operation known as The Harvest Association. In this story we’re given a more candid look into what it’s like for those women who have been kidnapped; their lives in captivity, their physical, sexual and mental abuse, as well as the business side of the sex slave trade, itself. There are many distressing aspects about this 'business', but one of the things that upset me the most is the emotional detachment of the ‘handlers.’ I just can’t understand how one human being can see another as nothing more than merchandise, and treat them like animals. And then what these poor women have to suffer after they’re freed – if they are ever freed… damn. Heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching. I was often in tears for them because even though I know this is just a story, I also know it’s not. The names are changed, the places are different… but the people are real. Somewhere, they’re real. They had lives and families and dreams... and now, right this very minute, they may have stopped hoping to ever have those things again. And because of that, I broke down sobbing when I read our heroine Kim's thought, "Dreams die before people do."

Master Sam’s role in this story and his nature as a sadist was touched on, and while I was mildly curious about him before this book, I’m now fascinated by him. I’ve read a couple of S&M stories in the past that left me feeling dirty and cold because to me their sexual intimacies were nothing more than acts of pain. But just in this tiny glimpse we were given into Sam I know that, for him, it's about so much more than that. If I could request one thing from Ms. Sinclair it would be to give Sam a story, because I know that she could present it to us in a way that would take us deep into his heart and soul, and show us exactly what it takes to make him love, and why.

As I've said, this is a very emotional story, but some of my favorite scenes were those that included the other Masters. Whenever they and their subbies all get together for a party, good food, lots of laughs and great sex are guaranteed. And I can't tell you how many times I giggled when one of the Masters would spot a subby walking awkwardly and knew that she'd been 'punished' for some infraction. Hell, I'll be honest here - the Master's creativity when it comes to discipline would have me looking for ways to be punished, but my favorite thing about them is how they aren't afraid to show their little subs, the women they love, how much they are adored.

The bottom line – Once again Cherise Sinclair has delivered a book that not only touched my heart, it captivated me. Was the story perfect? No,  but it's damned close! For me, when it's all said in done, it's how I feel when I finish that final page, that final thought, that matters most. To Command and Collar made me feel things I hadn’t felt before, and want things I didn’t know I ever could. Master Raoul and Kimberly, Master Sam, Linda… and especially Holly… will stay with me in my thoughts for a very long time.

Note: This book contains anal and oral sex, and intense scenes of sexuality, including whipping, spanking and bondage, as well as descriptions of varying non-consensual acts forced on the captive women. 

4.5/5 stars

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