If Only (Masters of the Shadowlands #8) by Cherise Sinclair

After the last fiasco, Sally gives up. She’ll never find a Dom of her own. Instead the computer whizz is job hunting in between bending the law—just a bit—to unearth the bastards who’d enslaved her friends. The clueless cops and Feds obviously need help.

FBI special agents, Galen and Vance, have waited to play with Sally for a long time. When the mischievous submissive returns to the exclusive Shadowlands BDSM club after an ugly relationship, the experienced co-tops are pleased. Realizing she’s suppressing her emotions, the powerful Doms push her—only to find that her sassiness conceals a scarred and vulnerable heart.

Shaken by the unexpected emotional exposure, Sally flees the demanding Masters and the Shadowlands.

Both Galen and Vance have reasons not to seek a long-term submissive, but when a brutal attack by her ex-Dom sends Sally into their home, the two agents are driven to protect her. To help her. To take her under command. Falling in love isn’t in the plans.

But as the little imp brings light into their lives, they begin to want more…until they discover she’s hacked into an organization that delights in burning people alive.

My Thoughts:

Let me just preface my review by saying that I love Cherise Sinclair’s writing. Her stories are vivid and detailed and draw the reader into the story by pulling on their emotions in some way. The Shadowlands series is a favorite of mine and I have read several of the books more than once, because they are just that good.

*Sigh*…now on to my review.

I waited so long for Sally’s story. She was always one of my favorite subs with her sassiness and wit. And, when the Feds came into the picture, I just knew her story would blow the others out of the water. Helllllooooo, two gorgeous alpha male FBI agents. I could not wait for this story to come out. Welp, my anticipation did not match my enjoyment of the story. Sure, it was a solid story and well written like only Cherise can. However, I did not enjoy this story overall. There were moments where I laughed (like when the Doms referred to the subs as “The Shadowkittens”) and sighed when Dan and Kari were able to rekindle the magic of their relationship. But beyond that, my enjoyment of the complete story was neutral–definitely NOT the norm for me with Cherise’s books.

So the “why” of it all?

Ok, let me start with Sally. Her character was so strong and sassy whenever she appeared in the other books. She was always mouthing off and giving the Doms grief. I totally loved her attitude. Conversely, although she had moments of sassiness and strength in If Only, I found the Sally in this book to be a complete dichotomy of the Sally in other stories. For one, she met and stayed with a Dom (not a Shadowlands Dom) who was a drunk abuser. She experienced the ultimate care by the Doms at Shadowlands so it seemed odd that she would subject herself to a stranger who is abusive. Also, we never hear where she met this Dom. He just shows up out of the blue, topping Sally. I would have appreciated a bit of background on where he came from. Sally was a trainee at Shadowlands but did she visit another club or find him on a forum? Even a brief mention would have sufficed. There just wasn’t enough about “Frank” in the story. But the fact that she allowed him to cheat on her (she mentioned he was not monogamous) and abuse her (only getting fed up with him at that point) just didn’t seem at all like something MY Sally would do. I didn’t care for that particular story thread at all.

And then there were the men. . .

Ok, I absolutely loooooooved Galan and Vance in the books that followed the story thread with the slavers. It was just something about them that just made you want to know more. So it shocked me when I got to 50% and felt kind of “meh” about both of them. There was nothing that really shouted “LOVE THIS MAN!!” to me about them. Master Raoul…yes. Master Dan…definitely. Master Z…abso-frickin-lutely. But Galan and Vance felt a bit vanilla to me compared to the aforementioned Doms. Honestly, they just didn’t feel very “dom-y.” Sure, they issued commands to Sally but I just never felt as if they commanded her. Their interaction with her felt rote opposed to exciting or thrilling.

And finally, their triad…

I never felt as if the three connected as a triad. The passion between them was hot and the men definitely had Sally’s back when it came to dealing with her father, but there was a missing link between them for me. I didn’t feel that constant undercurrent of connection between them. It was told but I never felt it. I was expected to feel more between them after waiting so long for Sally’s story to unfold.

In closing…

I’m glad that the story like with the Harvest Association seems to have come to a compelling end. I was growing a bit weary of that story thread because it seemed to take the focus off of and outside of the club for several books.

Cherise Sinclair will still be one of my go-to authors when I’m looking for a steamy and passionate story. Books 1-7 were on point for me and although book 8 was a one-off, I will still follow the series and look forward to seeing what she does with Jake (the new Dom) and Raine. But gotta wait until August 2014 for that one. *Sigh*…patience is not my virtue. 🙂

Ratings Detail:

Rating for female protagonist: 3★ Rating for male protagonist: 3★ Rating for secondary characters: 4★