Threatened by university cutbacks, Professor Abigail Bern’s only hope is to publish a provocative research paper–soon. Planning to covertly observe behavior in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she takes a receptionist job. When the owner calls upon her to assist in a demonstration, she’s appalled. Then fascinated. Under the unyielding hands of the master known as my Liege, she discovers a need to be more than an observer.
His late wife had been the center of his life, and Xavier Leduc wants no other. But when his new receptionist does her utmost to keep an emotional distance from him, he’s intrigued and digs deeper. She’s adorable. Intriguingly intelligent, beautifully submissive, sweetly vulnerable. He soon realizes her defenses are keeping her on the fringe of her sexuality–and her life. As he draws her into fuller participation, she unconsciously does the same for him. She begins to fill his world.
Ever since the night she met my Liege Xavier, Abby has questioned everything she believes about herself. She’s falling for the stern owner of Dark Haven and thinks he’s beginning to care for her…until the day he learns why she’s in his club.
You know how they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”? Although I bought My Liege of Dark Haven three years ago, I know it’s the book’s cover that caught my eye because seriously that man’s muscled back and long braid are freaking HAWT! The fact that I had finished my master’s degree the year prior with a heavy emphasis in data and research made Abby’s plight speak to me … LOUDLY. I was intrigued by the idea of a well-educated, professional woman learning more about BDSM for research purposes and finding out more about herself in the process. As My Liege of Dark Haven was my first such novel, it set the bar for this particular theme and while I have found some that I liked, so few have met the Sinclair-standard that I was beginning to question if I remembered my enjoyment of the novel as well as I thought. After rereading it I realized that nope, the standard is set that high because the book is that freaking good.
Besides understanding Abby on an intellectual level, I connected with her in regards to her believed physical shortcomings as well and this is why I so was so amused by the wardrobe issues that arose throughout the book. It’s also why Xavier’s unapologetic appreciation of her curves upped his appeal for me (if that was even possible). While their chemistry is intense and this makes for some seriously hot BDSM scenes that just get hotter throughout the book, it is their non-sexual relationship that begins to break down their walls and blur the lines of Xavier’s well-established boundaries for his women. Because Xavier still loves his deceased wife he doesn’t feel that he can offer Abby an emotional commitment. While he does tell her this and she accepts the arrangement, his actions as their relationship progresses belie this. This is what makes his seeming betrayal so devastating to Abby and even knowing what I knew as the reader, I couldn’t blame her for her reaction. That of course is what makes the ending that much sweeter.
One of the things I liked about My Liege of Dark Haven that led to me read the previous books in the series was the intelligence and maturity of the heroine. This holds true for all of Sinclair’s leading ladies (at least that I can recall) and gives them an inner strength that helps them stand up for themselves and others when needed, yet still submitting to their man’s sexual dominance in the bedroom. This strength is what sees Abby through the trouble that her ex causes her when he blows the whistle on her research project. It’s also what enables her to see her punishment through for violating the club members’ trust. I also enjoyed getting to know Xavier outside of the club and finding out how compassionate the man was and the programs he ran in memory of his mother’s struggles. Learning of Xavier’s background showed why he and Abby were so well-suited for one another, thus making the progression of their relationship feel right – detours and all. I still love My Liege of Dark Haven and am so looking forward to reading Edge of the Enforcer, which I apparently bought when it came out but never read. DOH!