As you may or may not know, I'm writing a BDSM romance of my own, and my awesome beta, Lynxie, suggested CLUB SHADOWLANDS as an example of an author doing the BDSM genre right.
Jessica, the MC, encounters Club Shadowlands by accident when her car gets stalled on a dark and rainy night. If that sounds cliche, it kind of is. She takes shelter at the club nearby, and the sexy manager gives her a set of clean clothing after toweling her off rather invasively. He informs her that it's a private club and gives her a thick packet of rules, which he tells her to read. If she doesn't want to abide by them, she can wait in the corridor with the bouncer. As Jessica explores the club, she quickly discovers that it has a rather interesting theme. BDSM. Dun, dun, dun.
Master Z, owner and participant, cannot get enough of Jessica's curvy bod. He knows that if she gives him the chance, she'll be the perfect submissive. But he wants her to come to him freely, even if that means giving her the chance to run away screaming lol.
What follows is a night of bacchanalia that wouldn't be out of place in ancient Rome. People get whipped, spanked. There's simulated rape (although Jessica and Z do not participate). There's medical erotica, including a staged gynecological/breast exam. There's exhibitionism, voyeurism. Sinclair manages to incorporate a whole bunch of different subsets of BDSM sex, talking about what's typical, what's not, and how it all is fair game as long as the adults are consenting and abide by CSS.
(Consensual, safe, sane.)
The writing is much better than I was expecting. No typos. A little cheesy and over-the-top in parts, but the sex scenes more than made up for it. I didn't really like Jessica's character. Her reluctance didn't bother me--I thought her hesitance and shyness were quite well done--but the fact that she kept kicking people, and attacking people in defense of the women being "attacked" was a little silly and dumb, although the reasons behind this were later explained. It was also annoying to have a small, big-boobed, curvy heroine whining about how "ugly" and "fat" she was.
As a 5'9" woman, I have little patience with tiny people who whine about being found unattractive to men. There are tons of men who won't even consider dating a tall woman, no matter how attractive she is, just because she's tall. And if you're tall and curvy, you can pretty much forget about it.
But again, that's kind of a personal peeve. Similarly, I had to suspend my disbelief when Master Z was portrayed as a mind-reader. It got to the point where I was wondering if there was a supernatural element to this book--psychic? vampire? Nope. He is a psychologist. Buddy, I hate to say it, but being a psychologist does not make you a psychic. So that annoyed me as well.
Still, CLUB SHADOWLANDS is a great book for those who want to know more about the BDSM scene. I found it very informative, and loved the way the participants were described. There are some bad eggs who participate, but they usually aren't welcomed by the group (and are often disbarred from clubs). Most people who participate in the BDSM scene are just ordinary people looking for a way to kick back and blow off steam with their favorite kind of sex. Which happens to be BDSM.
I would consider reading other books in this series.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars.