Lean on Me

By: Cherise Sinclair

Series: Masters of Shadowlands

Book Number: 4

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


After her mother died, Andrea Eriksson was raised by her ex-military single father who taught her she couldn't rely on anyone but herself. When it comes to the bullies she encountered in the slums of her childhood, the tall submissive could definitely take care of herself, but she longs for someone she can genuinely feel comfortable submitting to. The so-called Doms at the club she's been going to just don't do it for her. Then her best friend wrangles an invite for Andrea to join the trainee program at the exclusive Club Shadowlands, a place she'd never have been able to afford on what she earns from her cleaning service. There she meets Master Cullen, who oversees the trainees. Although he can irritate her at times, he turns out to be everything she's been looking for in a Dom and someone she feels she can trust. But then she learns that he's not merely the club's bartender. In his day job, he works in law enforcement, and although he seems accommodating enough to overlook her youthful brush with the law, when another trainee accuses her of stealing, Andrea worries that she may have just lost the Dom of her dreams. Not to mention, if she can't set aside her father's training to learn to ask for help, her fear just might become reality.

Cullen O'Keefe got into arson investigating after his fiancee died in a fire. Still grieving her passing, he's been reluctant to give his heart to anyone else and has a reputation for playing the field, but never settling down. He's been the bartender at Club Shadowlands for years and is also in charge of their trainee program. When an acquaintance calls in a favor to get Andrea a spot as a trainee, Cullen isn't happy about it. His new trainee is, not only new to the BDSM world, but also appears to be more likely to punch a Dom than submit to one. Andrea proves to be a quick study, though, and once he gets to the root of her issues that cause her to be fast with her fists, Cullen finds himself enjoying his time with her and considering making their arrangement a more permanent one. However, the one thing Andrea can't seem to get a hold on is her inability to ask her Dom, or anyone for that matter, for help, and if he can't find a way to get past her mental block, her stubbornness may prove more than Cullen is willing to deal with.


Lean on Me is the fourth book in Cherise Sinclair's Masters of the Shadowlands erotic romance series. Andrea knows she's a submissive, but the so-called Doms at the Tampa BDSM club she's been going to don't do anything for her. She wants someone with the experience to fully command her body. When her best friend, Antonio, calls in a favor with a Dom at the exclusive Club Shadowlands to take her on as a trainee, Andrea jumps at the chance. As a maid at her day job, it's a place where she'd otherwise never be able to afford the membership fees, so she's willing to do whatever she must to be there. However, she quickly discovers that the independence drilled into her by her father since she was only a child, along with a past experience of sexual assault which makes her lash out at any man who approaches her too fast, are both problematic in a place like the Shadowlands where she's expected to submit to any Master who commands her. The one man who begins to earn her trust, though, is Master Cullen who oversees all the submissive trainees, but when she discovers that he's not the type to settle down with just one sub, Andrea fears her dreams of belonging only to him might never come true. For his part, Master Cullen is annoyed that Antonio called in his favor to get Andrea admitted to the trainee program. Most of the submissive trainees have been at the club for a while and know the ropes, but Andrea is an unknown quantity. Still, she seems willing enough to learn, and soon Cullen finds himself enjoying his time with his Amazon and realizes it's becoming increasingly difficult to separate his role as trainer from that of her actual Master. Once the lines have been blurred, they both discover there's no going back, but when Andrea keeps refusing to ask her Dom for help, over and over again, Cullen may just decide that he's had enough.

Andrea's mother died when she was young and she was raised by an ex-military father who believed that a person couldn't count on anyone but themselves. As such, he instilled a deep-rooted sense of independence in Andrea that makes it especially hard to allow herself to lean on anyone else even when she genuinely needs help. Despite that she knows deep down that she's a submissive and desperately wants to find a Dom to love and care for her, so when her friend, Antonio, gets her into the trainee program at the Shadowlands, she couldn't be happier. When she meets Master Cullen who's in charge of the trainees, at first, he's something of an irritation, but at the same time, he excites her body in a way no other Dom has before. After getting to know a few of the other Doms, though, Andrea quickly finds that Master Cullen is really the only one she truly wants. But when Antonio tells her that Cullen never gets involved with any sub at the club, much less a trainee, it seems her hopes of being his may be dashed until she's finally able to let him know just how she really feels. After that, she's living out her submissive dreams with the perfect Dom until her independent streak gets in the way of a great thing. As someone who's rather independent myself and has trouble asking for help, I felt I really understood where Andrea was coming from. She maybe takes it a little further than I would, but given her past and the way she as brought up, it made perfect sense. When she was finally able to overcome her fears and make herself fully vulnerable to Cullen, genuinely asking for his help, it was a really poignant moment that left me with all the feels.

Master Cullen has been on my radar since I met him in the first book of the series. He's always been the affable bartender at the Shadowlands who everybody loves, but in his day job, he's an arson investigator. He got into that line of work when his fiancee was killed in a fire, and he's also still grieving the passing of his mother, who didn't ask for help soon enough to keep her cancer from spreading. Ever since losing his fiancee, he's decided to simply play the field and avoid any entanglements that could lead to love. Being in charge of the submissive trainees at the club works just fine for him until his friend calls in a favor to get Andrea admitted. On her first night there, Cullen is a bit annoyed with her, but aside from her hitting Doms who are too quick to touch her, a problem that he promptly gets to the root of, she's generally a quick study. As an extremely tall and muscular man, Cullen is always afraid he's going to accidentally hurt some of the tiny subs, so he finds Andrea's tall, full-figured body very appealing. Soon he's having far too much fun pleasuring her over and over again, and feeling territorial every time another Dom touches her, but his sub is having a hard time asking for help and using her safe words when she needs to. After one breakthrough, he finally decides she's his, but when the problem still persists even after she's promised to try harder, Cullen doesn't think he can be with her anymore. I've loved Master Cullen ever since he first appeared in the series, so I'd been looking forward to his book. It definitely didn't disappoint. He's just as delectable as all the other Doms in the series so far, and will certainly go down as one of my favorites. His characterization perhaps could have gone a little deeper, but it wasn't a deal-breaker. Just like all the other Masters, he's very patient with his sub and the perfect Dom to help her overcome her fears.

As a part of a long-running series, Lean on Me features a number of supporting characters who have their own books in the series. All the past Masters and their subs make appearances, including Master Z & Jessica (Club Shadowlands), Master Dan and Kari (Dark Citadel), and Master Nolan and Beth (Breaking Free). All the Masters interact with Andrea on some level, while their subs befriend her, and they all engage in a fun after-hours party. Master Raoul is in a few scenes. He'll become the hero of the sixth book, To Command and Collar. Sally, a rather bratty submissive who's been having a little trouble finding a Dom to call her own and who also becomes a friend to Andrea, will finally get her HEA in the eighth book, If Only. There are a number of other characters mentioned who get their own books, but they didn't have any real dialogue. I think the supporting character who stood out to me the most, though, is Master Marcus. I can't recall if he's appeared before or not, but I really liked how his personality showed through in this book, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book, Make Me, Sir.

Overall, Lean on Me was yet another awesome book in the Masters of the Shadowlands series. Andrea was a great heroine who really stood out to me as someone I could relate to. I enjoyed her Latina culture and how family is so important to her. Cullen feels the same and fits in with her family quite well. I think that Andrea's issues were handled in a realistic way and I loved the creative solution the author came up with to get her to finally fully submit to her Dom. Master Cullen is a dreamboat who takes his time, feeling out Andrea's problems and working patiently to help her overcome them. I like how he's certainly not immune to her and how she gets under his skin until he can't bear to let anyone else touch her anymore. I also like that when another jealous sub accuses her of something bad, he immediately steps in to defend and protect her. The two of them made an excellent couple who really set the pages on fire with their ultra-steamy, creative sex play. Ms. Sinclair is masterful at using these scenes to reveal things about her characters and propel the plot forward which makes for compelling reading. By the end, I had no doubt that Cullen and Andrea were perfect for one another, which made this another exceptional read in this series that has definitely left me begging for more.

Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including BDSM elements, voyeurism/exhibitionism, sex toys, and anal sex, all of which could be objectionable to sensitive readers.


Cherise Sinclair


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