"The huge weeping willow on the hill held his attention as the long, thin limbs stirred in the breeze and moonlight streamed through them, casting moving shadows on the snow-covered ground, like snakes writhing through the white-dappled darkness."

Monica Avery wants Jake Nichols. Jake Nichols wants Monica Avery. What could be simpler than that? Readers of erotic romance expect many obstacles in the paths of proverbial star-crossed lovers before they finally unite. What they won’t anticipate is the dystopian sci-fi and Western-themed setting with a stunning gender role reversal. Author Jamie Schulz has cleverly fashioned a post-apocalyptic world set in rural Washington State in the aftermath of two wars that leave few males alive. Monica is a “mistress.” Jake is a slave. Love and marriage are outlawed, and women are gifted with “hysteric” strength that allows even the daintiest to dominate and abuse men. Plus, Jake is owned by Mistress Darla Cain, the cruelest and most vicious rancher in the county. Indomitable and without conscience, she destroys even the strongest and most moral of men—and women—who have the misfortune to enter her hateful orbit.

Schulz reveals her mastery of tension and chemistry, both sexual and literary, in this debut novel. The slow-burning story builds inexorably to a climactic cliffhanger as Monica and Jake negotiate the tragic social circumstances shadowing their illicit attraction. Their past histories with friendship and love surface in unexpected plot twists that also threaten to destroy any hope of a normal future for this couple and others who recall a less cruel world. Jake’s inner emotional conflict is portrayed with a searing authenticity that rivals any shouldered by sexually abused females. What could be a sensationalist tale that devolves into a rank display of domination and sexual perversion is delicately guided from the taint of cruelty and despair into one celebrating communion and mutual respect. Schulz’s attention to fine detail will have romance genre fans eagerly anticipating this book’s six proposed sequels.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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