Her Dark Master

By: Jennifer August

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Spoiler Disclaimer


Ever since discovering her brother's collection of underground erotic magazines, Victoria Ashford has been eager to try the things that up until now she's only read about, and there's only one man she wants to teach her, Matthew Corwin, the Earl of Sussex, and her brother's best friend. When she overhears Matthew making plans to visit a brothel, Victoria comes up with the idea to pay the prostitute he's chosen for the night to take her place. Victoria dons a mask to conceal her identity and spends the most memorable night of her life with the man she loves, but when he discovers who he was really with that evening, he won't let her off easy.

Matthew Corwin has been attracted to Victoria for a while, but after having his heart broken by his former fiancee who threw him over for someone she thought had better prospects, he no longer trusts women. Instead he seeks out his dark pleasures from women of the night who won't place expectations on him. Matthew spends one such evening with the submissive woman of his dreams and it's an experience quite unlike anything he's ever shared with anyone before. But when he finds out she was actually his best friend's sister, he plots erotic payback. When she still responds to his touch with eager abandon, Matthew fears he just might be in danger of losing his heart again. But first he'll have to protect Tori from a blackmailer who's discovered that she also writes stories for the salacious paper and who wants to reenact some of the scenarios in her stories by force.


Her Dark Master is a stand-alone, erotic, historical romance novella set in the Regency era. Although still a virgin, Victoria is anything but a proper lady. Ever since finding her brother's collection of underground erotic magazines, she's been eager to try the things she's read about. She's also become an anonymous contributor to the magazine, writing her own steamy tales that are fueled by her desire for her brother's best friend, Matthew. Lately Tori's mother has been pressuring her to marry and seems to have chosen one particular man to fixate upon, an older military commander whom Tori despises. She hopes that Matthew will someday notice her as a woman, but so far, he seems oblivious to her. After being hurt by his former fiancee, Matthew doesn't trust women and although he's attracted to Tori, he tries to ignore her, instead seeking his dark pleasures from women of the night. When Tori overhears Matthew making plans to go to a brothel, she wants to be the only one with whom he shares such intimacies and she also wants to have one night of passion with the man she loves in case the worst happens and she's forced to marry her odious suitor. She makes a plan of her own, paying the prostitute Matthew is supposed to meet at the brothel to take her place. Wearing a mask to conceal her identity, she experiences a delicious taste of what it's like to submit to a sexual master who shows her that her stories were a mere facsimile of the real thing. For Matthew, too, the night was unlike anything he's ever experienced before, but when he finally realizes who his perfect playmate was that night, he plans an erotic payback, never expecting to want so much more from Tori than the pleasure one night in her bed can bring. But a blackmailer who seems to know everything Tori has been up to kidnaps her, leaving Matthew racing to find her before the unthinkable happens.

In her third season, Victoria has thus far been choosy about her suitors, hoping that Matthew might one day seek out her hand. So far, he's been very stubbornly ignoring her, while Tori pines for him from afar. Every time she reads a naughty story in the erotic magazine or writes one of her own, it's Matthew who stars in her fantasies and she desperately wants him to be the one to introduce her to such pleasures. However, she's gained a blackmailer who seems to have discovered her secret writing endeavors, something no one but her very best friend knows. Lately her mother has also been pushing one particular suitor at Tori, an older gentleman she definitely doesn't want to marry. Her mother is quite adamant that he'll make a great husband, but despite Tori's repeated inquiries, her mother won't say why it has to be this man. Fearing she may not have a choice in the matter and wanting to experience what Matthew has to offer firsthand, she creates her scheme to replace the prostitute at the brothel, which leads to a night of unbelievable passion and submission to the man she loves. When Matthew figures out it was her, though, he plots an erotic payback that equally enthralls Tori. But before Matthew can make a formal offer for her hand, she finds herself kidnapped by her blackmailer and at his mercy. Overall, Tori was a pretty good heroine. A part of me wishes she could have accomplished her goals without being deceptive, but I suppose the anonymity of the situation only added to the excitement. I like that she didn't pressure Matthew into marriage afterward, and that she matched his passion with a fire of her own. She proved to be the perfect person with whom he could live out his kinks.

As the second son of a earl, Matthew's prospects weren't as bright as his brother's. He was once engaged, but his fiancee ended up throwing him over for a titled aristocrat, then came back begging for another chance after he unexpectedly inherited a title after his brother's death. As a result, he thinks all women are conniving and manipulative, so he's determined not to marry anytime soon, and when he does, it will only be a business arrangement. Although his best friend's sister, Victoria, presents a temptation to him, Matthew doesn't want to get involved with her, fearing that she might be the one woman who could steal his heart again. When Matthew receives word from the madame of the brothel he prefers that she has a new girl she thinks would be perfect for someone of his singular tastes, he's eager to try her out. The woman he finds is incredibly responsive to his domination and spankings and proves to be the perfect bedmate for him. Despite her hiding behind a mask, he cannot stop thinking of how she looked and smelled and eventually he puts the pieces together to realize it was Tori all along. Angered by her deception, he's determined to get revenge, but she's just as responsive to his erotic punishments as she was that first night, making him loathe to allow her to marry anyone else. However, when the blackmailer strikes, he'll have to race to her rescue. Matthew was a delicious lover who knows how to pleasure a woman into oblivion. He had every right to be upset about Tori's deception, but despite his past bad experiences, I'm glad he didn't take too long to come around and realize that she was perfect for him.

Her Dark Master has been on my TBR pile for quite some time, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Overall, it was a good story. It's the length of a long novella, so my main complaint would be that it wasn't quite long enough to suit me. Some authors can tell a very tight and satisfying story in this shorter format, but here, I found myself wishing that Ms. August had lengthened it a bit to deepen the characterizations. There's just enough present for me to like both Matthew and Victoria, but more background definitely wouldn't have gone amiss. Likewise there were times when she skimmed over certain parts of the story, which I thought would have been better if written out in more detail. I also admit that the overall premise of the story, that of a young virgin who got a sexual education from underground erotic magazines and put it to use by taking the place of a prostitute to be with the man she loves, is perhaps a bit far-fetched for the times, but it was well-written enough that I was willing to suspend disbelief. The love scenes are done quite well, too, and blazingly hot, sufficiently melting by brain to make me forget some of the other story weaknesses. Tori was rather refreshingly adventurous and no shrinking violet of a miss, while Matthew is a dream lover for anyone into his brand of erotic pleasures. I like that they knew each other well before their tryst, and despite the oddity of how they got together, they proved to be the perfect partners. There's just a touch of mystery in who is blackmailing Tori and why her mother is so adamant about her marrying the colonel. I would say that all in all, Her Dark Master was an enjoyable story for anyone who's willing to dive into the fantasy of it. This was my first read by Jennifer August, but it has left me interested in checking out her other works.

Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including mild bondage, spanking with a crop, domination/submission, and anal sex, all of which could be objectionable to sensitive readers.


Jennifer August


Light Mystery