Title: Master’s Flame (Cirque Masters, #3)
Author: Annabel Joseph
Genre: BDSM Romance
Release Date: May 15 2014
In the sexually charged world of Cirque du Monde, CEO Michel Lemaitre reigns as king of depravity. He’s a stringent, brutal Master who selects his slaves based on their ability to cope with strict handling and pain. He exerts rigid control over his chosen partners and they submit to him in all things—that is, until fiery Italian acrobat Valentina Sancia enters his life.
Valentina’s known as la Vampa, the flame of Napoli, and her tempestuous personality and wild libido soar as high as her circus tricks. To his chagrin, she wants nothing more than to be his slave. Michel finds himself drawn to the red-headed firebrand even as he tries his hardest to resist her. It doesn’t help that the sensual beauty idolizes him and tempts him at every turn. He finally engages her in a one-month, no-holds-barred Master-slave relationship to prove their incompatibility.
And that’s when the circus really begins.
The two become wrapped up in bondage, cages, physical ordeals…and an emotionally fraught battle of wills. He’s never had a slave burn so bright, and Valentina’s heart is set on pleasing her Master, no matter the torment and trials she must endure. Is there such a thing as too much passion? Michel’s convinced there is, and he’s determined to tame a billowing love on the verge of blazing out of control.
“Safewords?” He gave a tight smile. “There is nothing safe about words. Something to remember if you ever give your body over to a dominant’s will.”
“I don’t care about being safe.” Her fingers twisted together in the intensity of her confession. “I want pain and surrender. I want to be subdued, pushed to my limits. Forced to obey.”
“Do you?” How he wished to reach out and touch her. You will harm this one, his conscience whispered. If she does not destroy you first.
Master’s Flame is the third book in Annabel Joseph’s Cirque Masters series. It works perfectly well as a standalone story and it’s not necessary to have read the first two books although it does contain spoilers for those stories.
It’s actually been a while since I’ve read an Annabel Joseph book and I was really excited to read this one. No one does soul-searching, tortuous BDSM romance like her and her doms and submissives always make for a challenging and captivating read and that’s exactly what we get in Master’s Flame.
We’re back in the fabulously kinky and depraved world of Cirque du Monde and the CEO himself, Michel LeMaitre has recruited talented Italian acrobat Valentina Sancia. Valentina is hot-headed, impetuous and overtly sexual and is causing havoc in his circus, burning bright like a fire-cracker and seducing his artists. Valentina is beautiful, reckless and totally uninhibited and she has set her sights firmly on submitting to Monsieur LeMaitre, wanting nothing more than to be his slave.
LeMaitre, although drawn to Valentina, despises the thought of a permanent slave and, at first, refuses to have anything to do with her. I absolutely adored this intensely dominant man – yes, he’s a bit of a fuck up but the more of an asshole your hero is the further he has to fall and the more satisfying that redemption will be in the end and that’s what was so satisfying about this book.
Michel LeMaitre is an omnisexual, commanding presence in the Cirque, a feared and respected sadist known for taking both male and female slaves and pushing them to their limits and beyond. His stringent brand of mastery, the way he is so controlled and controlling really had me melting into a puddle at his feet. Valentina, little hellion that he is, pushes him too far and he decides that he will take her on as a slave for one month contract in an attempt to teach her some control and to calm her wayward and impulsive ways which is exactly what she wants.
Valentina – be careful what you wish for!
You will not be my play slave. You will not be my lover, girlfriend, or funslut. You’ll be my real slave. You’ll do what I say, whatever I say. You’ll put aside any wants, needs, desires, and uncomfortable feelings that get in the way of me getting what I want. You’ll eat what I say, you’ll sleep where I say, you’ll wear what I say, and you’ll submit to every single act I choose to visit upon your body, whether it horrifies you or not. I’ll fuck you when I want, I’ll beat you when I want, and I’ll ignore you when I want. I’ll make you wait for my company until you’re in agony, and then I’ll ignore you some more just because it makes me hard to play with your emotions. I’ll do everything in my power to fuck you up because that’s what brings me pleasure. If you want to belong to me, Valentina, that’s what it entails.
What follows is an awesome display of dominance and submission as Valentina’s Master pushes her way beyond what she thought was possible. He’s cruel and demanding and there were times that I hated him for what he was doing right along with Valentina. She thought she would relish the thought of being overpowered but she had no idea what she was letting herself in for and her Masters is enjoying this exacting challenge and she is desperately trying to prove that she’s not just a nymphomaniac with poor impulse control!
I enjoyed this so much. Annabel Joseph does a fantastic job of seamlessly intertwining the exotic world of the cirque and the kinky, depraved world of LeMaitre’s Citadel for your perving pleasure. Master’s Flame is full of hedonistic pleasure, a battle of wills between the main two characters and tortuous love story that will have you screaming in frustration at the hard-headed, cold hearted man at the centre of it all. But, as I said earlier, the more of a fuckwit your hero is, the further he has to fall and, when he finally opens his eyes and unlocks that cold dead heart, it’s a thing of beauty.
I found myself completely lost in the story as I devoured it – I came to adore Valentina and ached along with her when LeMaitre hurt her both physically and emotionally and he really does hurt her. It’s plain to see just how perfect these two are for each other and Valentina can see this but LeMaitre is the one that coldly refuses to accept that he could love his flame-haired beauty, his mignonne, his impulsive bundle of trouble and he’s also got some hard lessons to learn over the course of the story. It’s a fantastically kinky and angsty love story, full of erotic hedonism and near perfect BDSM romance.
“Make love to me. Just once,” she begged. “Touch me just once so I can know the feeling of your...your magic.”
“My magic?” He shook his head. “Jason’s right. You don’t live in the real world.” He stood and paced away from her.
“Mr. Lemaitre, I would do anything to have you.”
He turned back, holding up a finger. “Don’t. Don’t say you would do anything, especially to someone like me, because I’ll take you up on that offer and you won’t like it.”
“I would like it. I’d do anything for you. Anything, anything, anything.” She yelled the word at him, her heart pounding. “You know how I feel, I know you do. I only have this one life and I want to experience everything I desire.”
“Everything you desire?” The question was a warning, one she didn’t heed.
“Yes, and you are keeping me from doing it.”
“And you need this to be fulfilled in life? You need to be mine? To be taken by me, used by me? Possessed by me, as you so dramatically put it?”
“Yes,” she cried. “That’s what I need.”
He crossed his arms over his chest. “What will you offer in return? What will I get out of this possession, besides a recurrent headache?”
Valentina’s face flushed red, because she hadn’t once, not once, considered his side of things.
“Ah, but you see, my dear, that’s the rub,” he said quietly. “I’m not a service top. I take slaves for my pleasure, not theirs. I have less than no interest in your needs, Valentina, except as they intersect with what I desire.”
She swallowed hard. “Well...what do you desire?”
His piercing gaze transformed from something reproachful to something more speculative. It scared her a little, the assessment in his expression.
“I think you’re a selfish hedonist who wants what she wants,” he said. “That’s not slavery, you know. It isn’t even power exchange. It’s topping from the bottom and I don’t tolerate it in those I ‘possess.’”
Valentina tried not to be distracted by the growing tent in his robe.
“You...you would have to teach me to be better. I need control.”
“You would have to. I need. You’re still not listening, Valentina,” he said, coming back to the bed. “The only one having their needs met in a relationship between us would be me.”
There had to be some flaw in his thinking, because she was sure he would meet her needs. His mastery would fulfill her as no one ever had. “What can I give you?” she asked. “How can I prove that I’ll do anything for you?”
“There you go with the ‘I’ll do anything’ again.”
“Mr. Lemaitre, please! What can I offer that would satisfy your desires? What would make it worthwhile for you?”
Again, that slow, almost threatening gaze of consideration. His eyes traveled over her, his lips drawn into a contemplative line. “You’ll do anything?”
“Anything, I swear. There’s nothing you could ask for that I wouldn’t gladly do.” The air seemed to grow heavy between them. She knew she was being impulsive again, butshe didn’t care. Everything she’d said was true. After a moment, he made a small motion of annoyance. His expression hardened to something like stone.
“If that’s how you feel,” he said, “then I want a no-limits arrangement. Complete and utter ownership, no holds barred. No negotiation, no contracts, no release clauses. Your body is mine for one month, for whatever I desire.”
Whatever I desire. The idea excited her so much she could barely breathe, but she forced herself to stop, to clarify his terms. “So I would have no rights in this relationship?”
“You could do whatever you wanted to me, and I couldn’t stop you? What if you decided you wanted to kill me?”
“Then I get to kill you. Honestly, the way you perturb me, I would put the odds of a murder at 2 to 1.”
She decided he was kidding, although he didn’t have the slightest hint of humor in his demeanor. “Do you really want that?” she asked. “You really want...me...for a month? Does that mean...” She could barely say the words. “Does that mean I would become your slave?”
Some wary expression flitted across his face. His voice was light, almost a whisper, when he answered. “You have been my slave for some time now, haven’t you? You might think on whether it’s what you really want.”
Series Reading Order
Cirque De Minuit
It’s no easy feat transitioning from the disciplined arena of competitive gymnastics to the artistic whirl of the Cirque du Monde. Kelsey Martin finds secret inspiration in Theo Zamora, a dark, taciturn trapezist–until his partner dies in a tragic accident and he decides to leave the circus for good.
Theo doesn’t understand why Kelsey reaches out to him, only that she compels him with her unique combination of innocence and recklessness. Before long the two are collaborating on an aerial silks act for a new production, the Cirque de Minuit. Theo’s impatience with Kelsey’s naivete is matched only by his passion for her, and the two soon become embroiled in a tempestuous, consuming romance.
But some still blame Theo for his partner’s accident, and danger wraps up the two performers as inevitably as the scarlet silk of their act. Theo and Kelsey must find a way to connect and trust one another as he leads her deeper and deeper into a dangerous world of control and desire.
Bound In Blue
At a small, struggling circus in Ulaanbaatar, a fearless trapezist fascinates Cirque du Monde talent scout Jason Beck, until he realizes, halfway through the act, that he already knows this exotic, blue-eyed beauty. Intimately. If he’d known she was part of the act he was here to recruit, he never would have done such basely carnal things to her the night before!
Torn by professional and personal desires, Jason invites Sara to Paris. She’s thrilled to join Cirque du Monde, but her trapeze partner, Baat, is less cooperative. When tensions threaten the future of Sara and Baat’s act, she finds solace in a sexy, consuming Master/slave relationship with Jason. Jason’s strict requirements match perfectly with Sara’s desires to submit, to do whatever it takes to please her Master. Soon they’re barreling toward deeper commitments, even love.
But circus life can be chaotic. Perilous. Cirque CEO—and brutal Master—Michel Lemaitre develops an uncomfortable interest in the submissive trapezist, and Baat becomes increasingly difficult to control. Fears and secrets, jealousy and uncertainties threaten to undo everything Sara and Jason have built in their intimate BDSM sessions. Hurt by lies, rocked by shocking revelations, the two must battle to remain bound together in love.
About The Author
Annabel Joseph is a multi-published BDSM erotic romance author. She writes mainly contemporary romance, although she has been known to dabble in the medieval and Regency eras. She is recognized for writing emotionally intense BDSM storylines, and strives to create characters that seem real–even flawed–so readers are better able to relate to them.
Annabel publishes with Ellora’s Cave and Loose Id in addition to her own imprint, Scarlet Rose Press. She also writes non-BDSM erotic romance under the name Molly Joseph. You can sign up to receive Annabel’s newsletter at her website annabeljoseph.com.
Two winners will each receive ebooks of Cirque de Minuit and Bound in Blue, the first two books in the Cirque Master's Series.