I'm an avid reader and reviewer of romance books, especially m-m and erotica. You can find me on http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4669232-baba-marcus-tyler-tate-dan-ty-hunter
4.5 strong and gentle stars.****Reread October 2013, review edited October 31, 2013
After a horrible attack about a year ago, Chloe suffers from panic attacks. Her sanctuary was branded. She's always been a woman full of life, joy and laughter. Her friend Gen said over a year ago:
"If anyone could live on the curve of a rainbow, it would be you."
Sadly that's gone now. During a panic attack one night, she called a number that she'd treasured for many months. It's Brendan's. She met him at Tyler and Marguerite's wedding. Listening to Brendan's voice, to the easy honesty in his words, calms her tremendously. They end up having some titillating phone sex but at the same time Chloe enjoys their interesting conversation.
Chloe is feeling things that have been buried for a long time.
"Chloe."(…)"Tell me again what you want. I need to hear it. What do you want?"
"I want to be me again. I want to feel safe."
Though there's a problem. Brendan is the perfect male submissive and Chloe is not part of his D/s world. Brendan was in uncharted territory, pursuing someone who wasn't accustomed to his submissiveness.
There's one particular aspect of Branded Sanctuary that I LOVED beyond words. Tyler and Marguerite. They're making quite an impact here and it was a great pleasure to see them again. Every time I read about Tyler my knees are getting weak and I want to drool in his wake. Chloe asked Tyler:
"Will you teach me how to use a gun?"
"Chloe." His voice had a rich timbre, flavored with a cultured Georgia drawl. "You take flies out of Tea Leaves in a cup. You apologize when you kill mosquitoes sucking blood out of your skin."(…)
"I know, Tyler. I'm just so afraid…of being afraid, and I don't know how to stop."
"You're so very dear to us, Chloe. Give yourself time. If you still want to learn how to use a gun in a month or two, I'll teach you. But like most things, it's a decision best made when you're in the right frame of mind for it. Until then, I'll shoot anybody that needs shooting for you."
"Just the kind of friend I need." She stared up into his handsome face, the expression that looked as if it could weather any storm. "Can I use you for the other thing that friends are known for?"
"Sure, little flower," he said gently, his pet name for her. He curved his hand around her neck, caressing her cheek as she laid her head back on his chest and let herself be held some more.
Tyler. The Southern GENTLEMAN and a GENTLE man. *swoon*
MORE TYLER! Whew. Handsome, hot as hell, strong, compassionate, perceptive, gentle and intuitive…and he exudes a commanding presence from head to toe. How that man takes care of his loved ones is just amazing. He was really sweet with Chloe, like a loving father figure. Sorry for gushing so much but I'm simply starstruck by him. I also apologize for adding so many quotes but when it comes to Tyler I love to go way overboard. *makes kissy noises*
He strode across the lawn, relaxed and easy, a feast for feminine eyes with damp muscled flesh and well-fitted jeans. Yet he still managed to project the Southern gentleman even in the casual dress, amber eyes focused on them as he approached.
"You two make a provocative and lovely picture. Giving those boys all sorts of ideas."
Chloe grinned. "Well, tell them to meet us all down at the hot tub, then."
Tyler smiled, slow and sexy, and her heart did a somersault, despite herself. (…)
Tyler muttered an oath. "Fine. Put them on maximum speed," he told the operator. He cocked a brow at Marguerite. "So this gets you hot, hmm?"
"Volcanic," she returned, a sparkle glimmering in her gaze. "If you don't miss."
"Going to pick out something for the lady you're too damn mean to deserve?"
"Keep talking, jarhead." Tyler looked up at the stuffed animals and other toys just above his head and arched a brow at Marguerite. "What do you want?"
"Nothing hanging on those hooks," she responded, making Jack laugh. Giving her a sexy smile, Tyler pulled down a toy anyway. He presented her with a black stuffed gorilla bearing an armful of silk red roses and a heart that said I'm yours.
When he leaned back, his eyes were as kind and compassionate as they were stern and uncompromising earlier. "Forgiven, little flower."
"You're really scary, you know. I guess you've convinced terrorists to give up their plots and everything, so you have practice."
"The women in my life require a different approach." Humor rippled across his handsome face. "The terrorists are far less work."
Chloe accepted Tyler's ever present handkerchief with a tremulous half-chuckle. "I keep messing up all your handkerchiefs."
"Don't worry. I have plenty more. And a devoted little wife who washes and irons them for me."
Marguerite gave him a lifted brow, the slight look of disdain he adored. "You must be keeping her locked in the basement, because I haven't seen her. Polygamist."
BTW, the sexy interlude between Tyler, Marguerite and Chloe was sensual and really beautiful. Loved it!
Brendan talks to Marguerite about Chloe.
"The joyful Chloe still exists, but she's facing that dark side now. No one I know is more prepared than you to guide someone out of darkness, Brendan, because your own demons have never overwhelmed your light. An Arthurian knight in truth. You might best serve Chloe's needs right now by taking the reins. Show her how to drive the horse before handing them over. You understand?"
I truly admire Marguerite because even after having faced and survived unspeakable evil, she's still full of strength and wisdom and she cares deeply about those she loves.
"We place a great deal of emphasis on knowledge, understanding, comprehension," Marguerite continued. "But in a truly tolerant world, things don't always need to make sense to us to be accepted, or to become a vital part of our lives."
"Like the biblical fruit, the knowledge of good and evil. Kind of screwed ourselves there."
"Yes. Because understanding good and evil is intuitive, not scientific. We both know that."
"You learn to do without the walls, Chloe. The point isn't building them, but building a life that is so much of who you are, nothing can destroy it. If you're lucky, when you figure that out, you find - or discover you've already found - a person who will help you keep the darkness at bay. Someone who gives you the strength to live as who you are, not a prisoner of your own mind."
I'm glad I did a reread because I loved the first half of Branded Sanctuary as much as I did the second half. I love, love Joey's writing and I'm always mesmerized how she defines BDSM. As a matter of fact, the philosophical and psychological aspects of BDSM go hand in hand and her stories go way beyond the sexual encounter of Dom/sub. I always enjoy her profound and thoughtful dialogue as well as the compelling narrative.
Chloe isn't a natural Domme but she is an extraordinary young woman, someone in emotional pain trying to regain control of herself. And Brendan is the exceptional submissive, someone who will help her to deal with the pain. He will also help her to find the joy and laughter again. Brendan is full of compassion, kindness and strength; but also full of thoughtfulness and blissful quiet. Trust and surrender is what all this is about. Those two elements are at the core of every relationship, and you don't have to practice D/s to understand that. Marguerite said to Chloe:
"Done the right way, Brendan will respond the same way to a command to give his Mistress a foot massage as he would to being whipped." At that astounding statement, she leaned forward. "Some subs need the restraints and caning to be fulfilled. But not him. How much D/s can or can't adversely affect a relationship has a great deal to do with the two people involved."
Brendan is quite unique. While he's a level ten pain threshold, his main focus is all about a woman's willingness to let him care for her; to serve her and cater to her every need. He doesn't need excruciating pain to be happy as a sub. Thus, he needs someone who understands what his submissiveness is truly about. That's exactly the challenge Chloe has to face, not whether or not she's a natural Domme.
Brendan teaches drama at a college but he's also a fabulous swimmer.
As he came up beside her and she looped her arms around his neck, she pressed her mouth to his underwater, something she'd always wanted to do. She laughed into his mouth at the way his arms curled around her, how she could tangle her legs over the backs of his thighs, and float and spin, and listen to that silence underwater that was somehow so…full.
Branded Sanctuary is not a book for readers who love to read about whips, chains and lots of physical pain. It was such a nice change for once because the BDSM elements are rather light. There's lots of romance, sensuality and eroticism. Plus, there's so much kindness, gentleness and real depth palpable in this story. It goes without saying that I liked ALL the multilayered characters and the close bond they shared.
And while I'm not a member of the D/s world, I truly enjoyed the Nature of Desire series because the stories give me a feeling of family membership and true values. It's like coming home. There's love, warmth, understanding and care and the people in Joey's stories look out for each other. They're not only friends, they're family.
Brendan is Chloe's sanctuary, the port in the storm, the ship she can trust. While doing my reread I just realized that Brendan is not only Chloe's sanctuary, he is also her branded sanctuary. Once again the title offers plenty of interesting connotations.
"Even then. I still want you. Heart, body, soul, everything from your deepest thought to your most casual gesture. I want to see all of it, be a part of all of it."
Brendan, Tyler, Marguerite and Gen helped Chloe to deal with her pain and fears in order to keep the darkness at bay. The light shone down on her again and Chloe was ready to embrace the joys of life such as laughter, happiness and love. The butterflies in her belly are back and she's ready to share them with someone she loves. Brendan.
Brendan's submissiveness to Chloe is a sacred act of devotion and there's no need at all for chains and whips and lots of physical pain.
We think that subs must be weak but that's not true. There's real strength in Brendan's gentleness and kindness.
I found the reader advisory a bit odd. Brief ménage encounter? Did I miss anything? There was a brief encounter between Tyler, Marguerite and Chloe. But there was no sex involved. And there was no sex/kissing between two women either.
The name Brendan comes from Brendanus, a Latin form of the Irish name Bréanainn (which I think is beyond beautiful). That's Welsh and it means (view spoiler).