Sep 9, 2014

ARC review: MASTERED: 10 Tales of Sensual Surrender by Opal Carew, Portia Da Costa, Madelynne Ellis, Marie Harte, Joey W. Hill, T.J. Michaels, Kate Pearce, Carrie Ann Ryan, Sasha White, Emily Ryan-Davis with Jennifer Leeland

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For more information about the authors and the stories visit Mastered web page.

Book summary:

Three Secrets by New York Times and USA Today bestseller Opal Carew
Sharing secrets has never been so exhilarating...
Nicole and Abel met in Paris and fell in love, but Nicole believes her secret lifestyle will drive Abel away. After the vacation ends, she decides to take a chance and share her secret, but little does she know he has a secret of his own.

His Secret by International and UK Sunday Times bestseller Portia Da Costa
Quiet storm…
Ben Chambers is the perfect handsome boyfriend. Sarah adores him, yet despite their delicious lovemaking and the fun they share, she senses he has a secret. But then, during a luxury weekend away, one casual pat to her bottom transforms everything, revealing Ben’s thrilling hidden dominance, and a world of decadent pleasure and deeper love.

Remastered by Multi-Award-Winner Madelynne Ellis
A bad experience with a former girlfriend caused Spook Mortensen to repress his sexual urges, but when sound engineer Allegra Hutton is called upon to remaster Black Halo's first album, there's only so much attitude and stubborn refusal to listen to the bands' wishes he can take before he's forced to break his self-imposed vow and take her in hand.

Working Out by USA Today bestseller Marie Harte
When lust turns to love, who’s really on top?
An ex-Marine with a kink for dominance, Mac is Maggie’s boss. But Maggie doesn’t seem to realize he’s in charge…until he shows her that Sir is more than a title. It’s a lifestyle that could suit them both. That’s if Maggie sticks around long enough to wear his collar.

The Scientific Method by bestseller Joey W. Hill
Mastering her body was easy. Mastering her heart and soul will be an erotic science…
In the vampire-servant relationship, the vampire holds all the power. Being Lord Brian’s research assistant as well as his servant, Debra accepts that, but she craves her Master’s heart. When Brian notices his servant’s unhappiness, he uses methods they both understand to prove just what belonging to him fully means.

Juicy by bestseller T.J. Michaels
Twilight Teahouse ~ Choose something decadent from our menu…
Solie Shaw is a brilliant self-made woman. After managing a corporation by day, at night, all she wants is to not be in charge. The last man she’d gifted her heart to had smashed it to smithereens and then did the mambo on top of the pieces. Now, along comes the chance to get exactly what she needs. All Solie has to do…is choose.

No Limits by USA Today bestseller Kate Pearce
All bets are off when there are no limits…
Dr. Julia Reed deals with life or death situations at a California ER. When British businessman Alex Logan offers her a sexual bargain, she gets to share her darkest fantasies; he gets the power to carry them out. But who is the real winner in this high stakes game, and is Alex even playing fair?

Ink Reunited by USA Today bestseller Carrie Ann Ryan
Only two men can give Sassy the happily ever after she craves.
Rafe, Ian and Sassy loved each other…until it all blew apart. Now both men are back for the woman they love. It will take more than apologies for these three to overcome their history. But once they take that step, the streets of New Orleans will never be the same.

Unfettered: An Overwatch Story by Sasha White
You never forget your first love
Mechanic Ronnie Lang is tired of being "one of the guys". Chasing the fantasy of finding a dominant male to help her explore her sexuality she applies to Overwatch, a private BDSM club where her eyes are opened to a world that’s more than she ever imagined, and the man she’s never forgotten.

Bondage on 34th Street by Emily Ryan-Davis & Jennifer Leeland
In knots over love
After years of searching, Tasha Sears finally finds the Master of her heart …on his knees in front of intimidatingly sexy bondage enthusiast Noah Dreyfuss. As sparks flare between the three, Noah’s ropes will either bind them together or pull them apart.

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My rating:★★★

My review:

I've posted my review of the first three stories: The Scientific Method by Joey W. Hill, Three Secrets by Opal Carew, and His Secret by Portia Da Costa a little while back, and you can find it here.

This is my review of the seven remaining tales.

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Tale #4 not only had an interesting title (Bondage on 34th Street), but it was an interesting read, even though it was only a beginning of a longer story. I'm glad the authors decided to write more about these characters, because judging from this, their story is far from over. It has an interesting premise: two men in a D/s relationship -- and let me just add here that I was so happy to find a little M/M action in this anthology :) -- one is a Dom, the other a switch in need of a sub. Then came along a woman from his past, one that discovered her submissive side. Well, you see where this is going, don't you? Well, unfortunately, it didn't get there in this story. I guess we'll get that in the future.
I wish this tale was longer because I really would have liked some more M/M, and because I like Dom/switch/sub relationships.
Oh, and this was the first time I've seen Facebook selfies mentioned in a book. I almost disliked the heroine for it, but I refrained.

Tale #5, Remastered was where I started to get annoyed by the fact a lot of the stories in this anthology seem to be a part of a series, series I frankly wasn't planing on reading. I didn't mind it with the first two stories because they work fine as standalones, but with these I felt like I was missing something. I wish that no matter the length all the tales here were standalones. Remastered was only the first meeting of the main characters. I suppose there will be more published about them. This part was okay. A lot of insta-lust was there, which reminded me of Sinners on Tour series. Both are about rock bands, and the relationships were very hot and heavy from the beginning. In Remastered the characters only just met, and they went pretty far. I've lost interest in that type of reads, but those who haven't could be eager to read more about this couple. It certainly leaves you wondering about Spook's issues, and how they'll overcome them. I'm wondering, too, although I'm not sure I'll find out.


When I realized Working Out would be one of the long stories in this anthology, I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad about it. On the one hand, if it was good, it would have been great to read more pages, but on the other hand, if it wasn't -- well, many bad pages. Unfortunately, I ended up struggling through this novella, and wishing it was shorter.

Once more, it was the type of kinky book I'd don't care for, and actually avoid reading; one of those I don't even consider kinky, and one of those I think would have worked better for me if it were vanilla -- hot vanilla, but still vanilla. This was diluted kink, which is not my favorite kind of kink, and even though I have found some books with it I enjoyed, this was not one of them.

The writing style didn't work for me, which is why it took me a longer time to read it than it normally does.

The characters didn't help the situation. I failed to connect with any of them. Quite frankly, I found their actions, and interactions immature. They way they behaved and talked was something I'd expect from horny teenagers, not people in their thirties, and definitely not from someone claiming to be a Dominant. If I made a drinking game out of Mac calling himself Master, I'd be hammered. Not to mention it was like he was referring to himself in third person. Oh, yeah. Who's your Master? Show, don't tell -- I wish their D/s relationship was more about showing. If it hadn't been for them always calling each other Master and sub, I probably would have forgotten they were playing that (and it felt like they were just playing), and that's why I believe I would have liked this novella a little more had they taken a vanilla path.

The plot or what there was of it was pretty simple: two people attracted to each other, both hurt in the past, trying to have a casual relationship, but ending up wanting more. A lot of the complications happened because Mac and Maggie didn't talk openly with each other like mature adults they were supposed to be. They made me worry about what I'll be like in my thirties.

Nope, this was definitely not a book for me.

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So, after Working Out hadn't worked for me, I ordered Juicy to be good, and as a good little story, Juicy behaved. I thought it was a cute addition to this anthology. Cute may be a weird adjective to use for this genre, but it was the main characters that made me use it. The heroine Solie was interesting, a little quirky, which was a plus. I liked how Solie and Burton were with each other; the friends-to-lovers storyline was really refreshing to me. I can't remember the last time I found it in a book. Also, Burton, the hot Dom friend, was the hero that saved Solie from her psycho ex-boyfriend, which is another plus.

This could have been a four-star read for me. It just needed some polishing, in my opinion. I definitely liked both the idea for the plot and the characters. A little tweaking in the execution, and it would be perfect.

What to say about the tale #8? No Limits really meant anything could happen. Of the first eight stories, it's definitely the dirtiest one, in my humble opinion. Honestly, the dirty parts really distracted me from the story itself. Yeah, those were definitely distracting. If you read it, you'll see.

However, I do know I found the hero likeable, and not only for the hot British accent. I do love the accent, but it was his fulfilling of the heroine's fantasies that won me over. He appeared to be something like a service Top, but I could be wrong.

The heroine -- not sure how I feel about her. She left me undecided.
The writing style I did like.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to ponder the logistics from a certain scene some more. The number just seems a bit big... ;)

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Ink Reunited was about Sassy, a beloved character from another series by this author. From what I've gathered, her story was much expected. So, if you're one of those who have already met Sassy, I'm sure you'll like Ink Reunited. This was actually my first book by this author, so Sassy was an unknown, but I was looking forward to it because it was MMF. I was a little sad by the lack of kink, but, hey, MMF made up for it.

Just when Sassy was feeling down because of her non-existent love life when everyone around her seemed to paired off, she got a visit from a past love interest. Two love interests. Yes, you can start being jealous of Sassy right away.

I was dying to read a hot scene between the two men, but no such luck; Sassy was in all of them. Bummer.

All in all, an okay story that would appeal to a wider audience.

And the cherry on top, Unfettered, was one of the stories I enjoyed more. It was a lovely end to the anthology.

The heroine from this story also had a man from her past appear, and he appeared as a very attractive Dom. For Veronica, a submissive in training, yearning for a trustworthy Dom, he was like a dream come true. And seeing her dreams realized was a nice read for me. I do think it needs some proofreading because I noticed some mistakes, but overall, the author did a good job. I liked the story, and the characters, oh, and the kink; all of it was just right.

Final score:
- Bondage on 34th Street: ★★★
- Remastered: ★★½
- Working Out: ★★
- Juicy: ★★★
- No Limits: ★★★
- Ink Reunited: ★★★
- Unfettered: ★★★½

And for the first three tales it was:
- The Scientific Method: ★★★★½
- Three Secrets: ★★
- His Secret: ★★★

Now that I've read all the ten tales, I can say that some I liked a little more, some less, and one I absolutely loved. My reading preferences are such that not every story worked for me, which makes me believe that everyone could find something they like amongst these stories. There's a bit for everybody.

***A copy of this book was provided to me through NetGalley.***

 Happy reading!



  1. Some sound good, but unless they work as standalone the fact that they are parts of series would bother me. Sometimes it lets you sample authors, but if you feel left out than what is the point.

    1. Almost all of them work fine as a standalone. I was just a little upset when I realized these were all part of a series because no matter whether the books can be read as a standalone or not, I hate starting a series and not finishing it, and with this I guess I started ten of them. But as a sample of the authors' work they work, and there were some nice samples. :)

  2. I like a few of the authors but I don't know that this would really do it for me. Sounds like way too many meh things compared to awesome things. Bummer when that happens. At least it went out on a good note!

    1. I'm afraid for me there really were more meh things compared to the awesome ones. I would have enjoyed them a lot more a couple of years ago, but now my reading preferences have changed. :) It did go out on a good note, and it started on an excellent one. As far as I'm concerned, Ms. Hill's story makes this anthology worth getting. :)


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