This is a hard review to write. Not because it was a bad book, far from that. It is just a hard subject to write about. This book deals with rape, gang rape, slave trafficking and a Master/slave relationship that a lot of people may find hard. The review will contain spoilers, but I will let you know ahead of time and use my handy dandy spoiler tool to warn you.
This is book 6 in the series Masters of the Shadowlands. While you don’t need to read any of them to understand this book, you might understand it a little better if you read the 5th on, Make Me, Sir where FBI Agent Gabi goes undercover to try and find her friend, Kimberly.
To Command and Collar begins where Make Me, Sir leaves off. Gabi’s friend Kimberly has been kidnapped by sex slavers and the FBI is on the hunt to find her but ultimately shut down the operation. Raoul is a Master at Shadowlands, a sex club but mostly a BDSM club. While most of the other books in this series have been around a Dominant and his submissive, this one changes gears some and goes the Master/slave route which is more intense.
Master Raoul is determined to help the FBI stop the human traffickers. Invited to a slave auction, he is just to deny all the slaves to get invited to a bigger auction, where the FBI can take down the entire operation. Raoul is surprised when he finds Kimberly, the woman who is friends with Gabi, the submissive of Master Marcus. She is broken, scarred and desensitized to small pleasures. Unable to leave her behind, Master Raoul purchases her, causing all the FBI plans to go out the window.
Kimberly comes home, but has to leave so many women behind that did not get rescued. The only hope of helping them is to stay with Raoul and help the Fed locate the big auction. She agrees to be Master Raoul’s slave, but must overcome her fears after being brutally raped, beaten and objectified during her captivity.
Master Raoul understands and helps to guide Kim through her fears and the beginning of healing. While both start to fall in love, both question if this is just the hero/victim mentality.
While she has gotten away from the slavers, she is drawn to Master Raoul, who captures her heart and shows her she can recover. Master Raoul won’t settle for anything less than a Master/slave relationship and Kimberly can’t accept herself as a slave to anyone.
I tend to like BDSM books because of the dynamic in writing. It just isn’t a love story, there is so much more depth to them. Not all writers understand this. Cherise Sinclair does. Everything is explained and while you might continue to say no way could I be a slave, she shows that it isn’t always what we perceive it to be. It truly is a command to trust each party in the relationship or else it doesn’t work.
But when I saw that this was not just a D/s relationship but a full blown M/s relationship, I had to take a pause. It isn’t something I think about and to have it put right in my face made me think. And that is always a good thing. He does require her to do everything he says, but he in no way demeans her. In fact there is a point where she talks in the third person and he stops her right away and tells her she is a person not an object. I wanted to stand up and applaud! While he felt he owned her, he cherished her as a person, not an object to be used frivolously.
Here comes some hard parts…I am going to mark them as spoilers so you are warned.
What I want to stress here is the entire time Kim is with Master Raoul, he is firm but kind. Master R and Kim were working together to continue helping the FBI. They set up a system of numbers so she could tell him when she was panicking. He often had her look into his eyes so she would know it was him and not the slavers there. He did everything in steps. She showered with him daily, but the first day he let her shower with her pajamas on. Then he started picking out her clothes or lack of clothing. He taught her to fight and to fight dirty, but he made her do this naked. Slowly he led her away from bad memories to good ones with him, but he also was her Master through it all and she never forgot it.
I loved Master Raoul. While I don’t see a M/s life as something I could handle, I love how he isn’t what you expect. He has a heart…a huge heart. He wants that one submissive/slave that he can take care of but also show who is in charge. He wants and needs that control. Having been married once before to a woman who liked pain but not the Dominance, he can’t accept anything less than what he needs. He is estranged from his family because of lies his wife told and he wouldn’t defend himself against.
I identified so much with Kimberly for not feeling she could be a slave…her mind wondering how she could be that after what she went through. But she craved Master Raoul’s approval and guidance. When at times it went away for various reasons, she felt lost and alone, falling back into the darkness of the past.
It was interesting to see them work the dynamics of this relationship. I could say I wish the slave trafficking hadn’t been a part, but that was what made Master Raoul shine as the hero who would lead her away from this and help her heal.
I don’t want to betray Kim as weak, because she was not at all. But after everything she went through, she needed a lot of healing and not the physical kind. PTSD is hard to overcome and for her to have done as well as she did in the course of this book testifies how strong she was. Master Raoul may have helped, but without her strong will, he would never have been able to help her along.
When we move to the section of the story where Master Raoul believes Kim is ready to engage in sex again, it starts very slowly. Power is given over in many ways and each scene builds upon the last one. Nothing is ever simple and in this book, simple is just not a word to be used. When I say it moves slowly, I don’t want you to equate this to lack luster. Cherise Sinclair writes love, sex, or BDSM scenes with such flair that she will have you looking for your man or a toy if you can’t find him. Everything is extremely planned and executed leaving you breathless, sock less and fanning your self. Incredible.
So am I rambling too much? Probably, but this book evokes so many differing emotions in me. It at times was so hard to read. I cried. I laughed. I swore up and down. I jumped. I cried some more. I disagreed with Master Raoul. I disagreed with Kim. And let me tell you I wanted to spank all the Dominant men in this story for the erotic torture they performed on these submissives.
With everything I said, I loved this book. Nothing was simple. Nothing was ho-hum. It made you think and forced you outside of your nice warm bubble. This is a sign of a great author.
While I have selected my best stories of 2011 already, which is sad, I have to say this is on that list even though it won’t make it…maybe an honorary place?
So I recommend this book highly, but want to warn you it does deal with very hard subjects and isn’t for the lighthearted!
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