Cherise Sinclair is known for her brilliant BDSM erotica series “Masters of the Shadowlands.” When “This Is Who I Am,” the next installment in the series was released, I just knew that it was going to be good. Well, I was wrong. Good is an understatement. It was brilliant! With each installment, Ms. Sinclair only improves and she has outdone herself this time.
Now the horrible time is past, Linda just wants to return to her small conservative town, pick up her quiet life, and be normal. But how can someone who likes pain be ‘normal’? To her dismay, when someone spray-paints her home with obscenities, Sam shows up to rescue her. Again. Doesn’t he understand that the last thing she needs in her life is a sadist? He’s amused by her objections. But his dry sense of humor doesn’t disguise that he’s tough as nails and dominant and stubborn. He’s not going to let her drive him off this time. All too soon, she realizes she wants him to stay.
When he takes her to the Shadowlands, she finds a new home…until she hears a voice from out of her nightmares.
This Is Who I Am is an amazing view of the masochism/sadism aspect of BDSM. What brings this book to the next level are the characters. Linda was just recently rescued from sex slavers. She was raped, abused, tortured and emotionally beaten down. Master Sam is a dominant sadist who has lost his ability to trust after his marriage to a drug addict. Watching these two learn to trust again and fall in love brought me to tears so many times. Sometimes they were happy tears but more often they were tears of sadness as each struggled.
Linda also faced a second struggle, the struggle to accept her masochistic side. Linda’s father was a preacher and then she married a conservative man. After Frederick died, Linda tried dating but without much success. She had tried sharing her sexual wants with her husband and then the men she was dating, but each time she was told that her needs were sick and not normal. Linda had been visiting a BDSM club when she was kidnapped and sold to the slavers. She was convinced that her kidnapping and enslavement was her fault; her punishment for visiting the club and wanting to be hurt. After her rescue, Linda returns to her hometown where she faces harsh judgment from some of her neighbors including one who leaves harsh messages grafittied on the side of Linda’s house. Even Linda’s college-aged children don’t understand all that Linda had gone through resulting in an argument.
Luckily Linda has Master Sam. Sam is everything I could want in a man. He is handsome, loving, caring, and protective. Sam has been a sadist for many years and is very comfortable in this lifestyle. Through Sam and the other dominants and submissives that she meets at Shadowlands, Linda is able to accept herself for who she is. Sam also intervenes with Linda’s children. As he told Linda, there is nothing he woudn’t do to ensure her health, safety and well-being.
This Is Who I Am is not a comfortable read. First of all, the details of everything that Linda went through were heartbreaking. I cried so many tears that I went through almost a full box of tissues. Linda’s strength in overcoming her fears and learning to trust again was remarkable. Another discomforting aspect of the story was all the pain Sam’s ex-wife had put Sam and their daughter Nicole through. I was blown away trying to imagine what it must have been like living with an addict who would do anything, hurt anyone in order to get their next fix. Finally, the details of Sam and Linda’s sadist/masochistic relationship made me uncomfortable. Ms. Sinclair did such a remarkable job describing their sex scenes that I could almost feel Linda’s pain. This is not a lifestyle that I am interested in but it was obvious that everything Sam did to Linda was done out of love and concern for Linda’s needs. Sam’s love was evident in how carefully he monitored Linda during each scene and his aftercare.
This Is Who I Am is not all doom and gloom. There were plenty funny and sweet moments throughout the book. One of the funniest was during Jessica’s bachelorette party. In this instance, the tears were from laughing hysterically. There were also plenty instances of happy tears throughout the book. In fact, I would recommend making sure you have a box of tissues nearby before you begin reading.
While This Is Who I Am is part of a series, you don’t need to have read the other books to enjoy this one. But once you have read This Is Who I Am, I don’t doubt that you will go back and read the others. This Is Who I Am is another fantastic book by a wonderful story teller.