Saturday, September 7, 2013

Welcome to the Dark Side

By Ashe Barker (Guest Blogger)

Wow, what an honour! It’s so fantastic to be here, guesting on the lovely Lisabet Sarai’s blog to tell you a bit about The Dark Side. And I’m in such good company – I read Rajasthani Moon as soon as it was released and absolutely loved it. I’ve just finished reading the Tied to the Billionaire anthology too, and found Andrew MacIntyre to be just my sort of BDSM alpha male hero – focused, single-minded, demanding, explicit to the point of crude, but with a sloppy soft centre when confronted by the right sort of submissive. But more on all that later…

I’ve been asked, many times, about why I decided to write The Dark Side, and why start my author career with a story centring on BDSM?

‘Is it autobiographical?’ my mother in law asked when she first learned of it, looking distinctly nervous. My answer, ‘In parts…” and I left it to her to work out which bits. As far as I know she hasn’t made further inquiries of my husband. Probably best left at that.

In truth, the idea really came together last summer when, along with most of the rest of the English-speaking world, I read the immortal E. L James through a haze of Ambre Solaire. And I was hooked. I wanted to weave a similar story, but mine would be more realistic, at least in my terms, and most definitely set in the UK. And I wanted a heroine who might be naive, inexperienced – well, we all have to start somewhere, but who would have a wealth of hidden talent waiting to be revealed. And I defy anyone to be able to lay claim to much more talent that Eva Byrne.

And Nathan, her alpha male? He’s the embodiment of all that I like most in dominant men – long dark hair, dark eyes, single minded, successful but without being filthy rich, and with a depth of ‘real life’. Nathan is a Dom, but he’s also a father, an employer, a friend. He enjoys sports, loves cars. He’s generous, caring, but in his dealings with his submissives he is absolutely unrelenting. Then along comes Eva, and his attraction to her is much more than physical. As each layer is peeled back, as she is drawn further and further into his dark world of erotic fantasy, he becomes more and more intrigued by her.

The Dark Side was originally conceived in Nando’s over a piri piri chicken. Soon after returning from the Ambre Solaire holiday I met a friend for lunch. She’d also read the Fifty Shades books, and was as hooked as I was. We wondered how E. L. James knew all that stuff, was it based on experience? All the same questions I get asked now, I suppose.

“No, no,” my friend said. “Not necessarily. You can find anything on the internet. Just do the research.” And in that moment I knew she was right. It could be done. I could draw on my own experience, and add in anything else at all from the wonderful, all-knowing worldwide web.

I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing a novel, not for ages. No one at all. I work from home, and although I have a separate office I tend to just set up my laptop on the kitchen table. I had to keep slamming it shut every time my daughter came in. I was constantly getting those grumpy messages from Windows about not being correctly closed down. I didn’t care. My internet history was a scandal during those months, and come to think of it, still is. I think the most graphic thing I looked at back then was a video of a Brazilian waxing session, but I was also all over the places where BDSM devotees do their online shopping. And when I came across anything unfamiliar there were lots of helpful little instructions, safety warnings, and so on. What could go wrong?

And whilst I was developing the story, becoming more and more engrossed in the evolving dynamic between Eva and Nathan, I was wondering what the hell to do with the novel when it was finished. What I knew about publishing would have fit nicely on the back of a stamp. I hadn’t a clue if anyone but me would ever meet these two people. So as well as watching online videos of spanking and anal play I was also researching likely routes to getting this published. By chance I read an article by fellow Total-E-Bound author Tanith Davenport in a magazine. She mentioned her publisher, Total-E-Bound, so their website was my next stop. They looked to be perfect, exactly the sort of publisher who might like my stuff, so from then on I wrote with Total-E-Bound in mind.

I started the book in September 2012, and set myself the deadline of completing the story by Christmas. By the beginning of December it was still a long way from complete, and I realised I needed to get serious. So I blew my cover, told my husband and daughter what I was working on, and that they’d have to get their own tea for a while.

They took the news quite calmly.

“What’s it about mum?”

“Well, you remember that Fifty Shades thing from last year…?”

“Oh, a mucky book then. Can I read it? And do you know where my hair straighteners are?”

I pulled out all the stops and finished the manuscript at about half past nine on the evening of Christmas Eve. I spent the rest of the holiday re-reading the first draft, tarting it up where I could, then first job in the New Year I sent the first three chapters and the last one to Total-E-Bound. About ten days later I got an email requesting the rest of the manuscript. That night I celebrated. There followed a couple of weeks of editorial to-ing and fro-ing during which time the book was split into the three parts of the trilogy, then I was offered a contract.

I was an author! Fancy that.

I do a couple of other things as well, nothing to do with writing fiction, but I probably spend about seventy five percent of my time now on writing and related activity. That seems about right to me and it’s how it will be for the foreseeable future. As long as I’ve got erotic fantasies to share, and people want to read the conjurings of my imagination, this is what I love doing.

But enough of my ramblings. Here’s an excerpt from Darkening, the first book in the trilogy. It charts Eva’s first experience of Nathan’s approach to BDSM.


Who knows where pain ends and pleasure begins?

The chance of a new life out in the wilds of the Bronte moors sounds too good to be true to shy musician Eva Byrne. Stifled and smothered within the cocoon of her brilliant academic career, Eva yearns for something different. Something real and exciting. Something she can feel. 

Excitement. Passion. Pleasure She finds that sexy, enigmatic Nathan Darke can provide all these and more when she moves into his home as violin tutor to his young daughter. But Eva’s sensual encounters with her demanding, domineering new employer quickly evoke her deepest fears, as he introduces her to the trauma of submission, and marks her with his particularly dark brand of love.

But will Eva’s natural curiosity and thirst for new experiences be enough to withstand the sting of Nathan Darke’s exquisite touch? Will simple surrender be enough as he challenges her every inhibition, taking her on an erotic journey of self-discovery and liberation?

Darkening is the first book in The Dark Side trilogy, charting the sensual journey of academic musician Eva Byrne as she struggles to overcome painful shyness, sexual inhibition and personal tragedy. Lonely, unsophisticated, desperately seeking love and approval, Eva is easy prey for sensual and experienced Nathan Darke.

He wants her submission, and he knows how to go about getting it. Eva is quickly caught up by the whirlwind of his effortless seduction, though she has her own reasons for agreeing to join him in his world of pain and pleasure, on The Dark Side.

Inexplicably fascinated and at the same time totally frustrated by his new submissive, Nathan is increasingly drawn to her as she opens up in his hands and he realises there is much, much more to his latest playmate than he ever could have imagined.

The Dark Side charts the turbulent relationship between Eva and Nathan as their mutual fascination builds. They both discover what surrender truly means as together they explore the fragile bonds of desire, trust, risk and reward, and the destructive power of betrayal.


“Okay.” He taps the screen a few more times to complete the purchases. Then, slipping his hand out of my bra, he pulls me to my feet and quickly turns me to face the table. His hand in the small of my back, he pushes me face down across the hardwood surface, sliding the iPad and my coffee cup to one side.

I start in surprise as he lifts the hem of my dress—surely he just said…

Then I moan out loud as he again slips his hand into my clothing, this time down the back of my lovely red lacy briefs, down the hollow between my buttocks, slowing slightly to circle my anus with one gentle fingertip. I stiffen, waiting…

“So sweet and tight. We’ll come back to this,” he murmurs softly, leaning close to kiss my neck before continuing on between the wet, swollen lips of my vagina. He slips one finger inside my moist entrance, working gently in and out, circling the outer lips, spreading my juices all around. I moan faintly, lifting my bum up in welcome. He slides a second finger inside, whilst with his other hand he attacks from the front to take my swollen clitoris between his thumb and finger, gently rubbing.

The combined pleasure is so intense, so centred, so sudden, it overwhelms me and I come immediately. I scream, unable to contain any of the fabulous sensation of internal fragmentation now shooting out through my outstretched fingers—white-knuckled, still gripping the edge of the table—and my toes, still encased in my lovely, red fuck-me shoes. I whimper, almost in frustration that my climax has hit me before I even saw it coming.

“I’m not finished with you yet. Stay there.”

More? How wonderful.

His voice is low, seductive and commanding. I stay still. Waiting. He straightens, steps away from me, goes
over to his desk. He returns a moment later, gently pulling my underwear down to my ankles. “Step out.” His command is clear. I obey.

“You have a beautiful bottom, Miss Byrne,” he observes, trailing his fingertips lightly down the furrow between my buttocks, then tracing the line of each lower curve before bringing something down on me—hard, sharp, fierce. I scream out loud, with shock more than pain, though the sting is real enough. Instinctively I start to stand up, but his hand goes to the small of my back, pressing me back down.

“We agreed on five strokes for every frown. I counted at least four frowns since we came into this room, and that’s me being generous, Miss Byrne. So that’s twenty strokes. Agreed?”

I don’t answer, still reeling from the sudden assault. He strikes me again, and I scream again, louder. “Agreed, Miss Byrne?”

“Yes, yes. Please don’t…”

“Eighteen to go, then. Grit your teeth, Miss Byrne.”

I do, flinching with every blow, my fingers curled desperately around the opposite edge of the table. Counting slowly. He takes his time, waiting between each blow for me to settle again, to be ready. After ten strokes he stops, places a ruler beside my face on the table, and steps away again. I know not to move. He comes back after a few moments and I feel something cool, soothing, being smoothed into my red-hot and extremely sore buttocks. He gently massages me, kneading my tender skin where his ruler has done its work.

“You’re new to this, Miss Byrne, so I’m really being very gentle with you. Next time it will be harder.” He taps my buttock lightly with his palm. “Relax—we’ll soon be done.” He stands, picks up the ruler again. “Are you ready to continue, Miss Byrne?”

I know he will demand an answer so I whisper my consent, and he starts again. The next ten blows are excruciating. He alternates between bringing his ruler down hard on first one side of my bottom, then the other, always hitting the same spot on each cheek and now not even waiting for me to collect myself between blows. Each new blow builds on the sting left by the one before it. I lie there in my world of pain, biting my lip to keep from sobbing, waiting for him to finish.

After the twentieth stroke he straightens, stands still behind me. I can imagine his eyes on my abused bottom, and just hope he’s satisfied. I know better than to say as much, though, and I wait, desperate for him to give me permission to get up. I lie there, frozen with dread at what might be coming next.

“Open your legs, Eva.”

I comply, too scared to resist. Tense, shaking, I can feel the tears streaming from my eyes. Am I about to lose my virginity here, humiliated and hurting, facedown on a table, trying not to sob out loud? Please, no, not like this…

“Wider, Eva.”

I force myself to spread my legs as far as I can. There’s no point arguing. His fingers are on me, gently opening the lips of my vagina. I gulp, tensing, waiting for the pain I know is coming. I feel something slip easily inside me. It’s not… What is it?

“Aaah!” My gasp is one of shock, not pain, as I feel vibrations start to pulse through me, from my inner core radiating outwards. He is standing now, not touching me, his hands flat on the table on either side of my head. He leans down to kiss the back of my neck, to whisper in my ear, “Enjoy, Eva. You’ve earned it.”

Gently, firmly, he runs his hands all over my back, massaging, comforting. Reaching lower, he smoothes some more cooling cream into my buttocks. I sigh, writhing with pleasure and need as the internal pulsing gathers strength, massaging my internal walls too. “Oh, yes, please, please…” I am almost mindless with desire as he reaches around me to lightly feather his fingertips across my clitoris. Little by little, any remaining pain dissipates and the sensuous delight builds, growing, reaching farther and wider into my inner self. I am desperate with need, murmuring incoherently, begging him to help me.

“Tell me what you want, Eva. What is it you need?”

“I want… I want you to… Oh, yes, that’s so good.” The pulsing of the vibrator inside my vagina is so strong now, urgent, unrelenting, irresistible. I know my orgasm isn’t far away. My hips are jerking, trying to increase the pressure on my clitoris, but he keeps his touch featherlight, teasing me, tantalising me.

“Please…” I’m desperate, so very desperate…

“Is this what you want?” He increases the pressure, only slightly, but enough to have my clitoris leaping to attention, swollen, seeking.

He circles my greedy clit with his finger, once, twice. Then, merciful at last, he takes it between his fingers and thumb and rolls it firmly. The result is instantaneous. My orgasm goes off like a volcano, my hips thrusting and gyrating for long moments as I ride the waves of intense pleasure flowing freely through me. I might even have lost consciousness towards the end, because the next thing I am aware of is the sensation of the vibrator, silent and still now, as Nathan slides it out of my vagina. Too spent to move, I am still lying draped over the table, boneless and very, very satisfied.

And as my brainpower returns to something like normal—whatever that is these days—I feel overwhelming relief to have come through my first ‘test’ relatively unscathed.

“Can you stand, Eva?” he asks me, wryly adding, “You certainly won’t be able to sit for a while.”

Using my hands to lever myself up off the table, I slowly get to my feet. My skirt drops back down over my bottom, and at least outwardly I am decent again. Good God, what just happened?

His hands on my shoulders, Nathan turns me to face him. Then, taking my face between his hands, he lifts it carefully, looks into my eyes. “You’ve been crying, sweetheart,” he says, gently wiping my remaining tears with his thumbs before dropping his lips to mine.

Despite all that has just happened, all he has done to me, the pain is forgotten as I melt under his kiss. My arms come up of their own volition and I clasp my hands behind his neck, holding onto him for dear life, because otherwise, I am definitely going to hit the carpet at his feet. I open my mouth under his. His tongue darts inside, stroking me, dancing with mine, tasting me. He sucks my bottom lip into his mouth, playing with me, and I respond as always. Despite everything.

Breaking the kiss, he nuzzles my neck. “Are we okay, sweetheart?” he asks me. “Am I forgiven? Did I make up for it?”

My answer is to turn my head and capture his mouth, initiating my first kiss with him rather than just responding to his. He tightens his arms around me, and this time I let my tongue go exploring. I am deliriously happy.

After long, dragging moments he lifts his head, nudges his nose playfully against mine. His eyes are warm, deep and sensual, drawing me in.

“Welcome to the Dark Side, Miss Byrne.”

About Ashe

In 2010 I escaped the public sector in the UK, and started to write. Now I count myself among the lucky few who do what they love doing and manage to make a living out of it.

The Dark Side trilogy was the first completed piece, to be released from July 2013 by those lovely people at Total-e-Bound. This was followed by another tie-in trilogy, Sure Mastery, also in the Total-e-Bound pipeline.

I like to write about people, relationships, and the general cock-up and mayhem that is most of our lives. I often write about places I’ve known, and have a particular fondness for setting stories in the north of England where I live. But my tales of love, challenge, resilience and compassion are the conjurings of my own imagination. With a hefty dose of kink to keep it interesting. We all need to have a hobby. And the hotter the better.

I love to craft strong, sexy, enigmatic and dominant men who know their way around a woman’s body. And bright, sassy, self-reliant women to give them a hard time – in every sense of the word. I’ve loved reading erotic fiction for many years – historical, contemporary, fantasy, romance. Now I’m lucky enough to realize my dreams of writing my own stories. I hope others enjoy them as much as I do.

When I’m not writing my time is divided between my role as resident taxi-driver for my teenage daughter, best friend and wife to my lovely, long-suffering and sometimes bemused husband, and caring for a menagerie of dogs, cat, rabbits, tortoises, cockatiel. And Colin the hamster.

I love to hear from readers and fellow authors. I can be reached on I’m also on Facebook, and on twitter

Buy Links:

Book 1, Darkening is available from

Book 2, Darker is available from Total-E-Bound

Book 3, Darkest is available from 18 October, also from Total-E-Bound


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Ashe,

Welcome to Beyond Romance! The first time I read an excerpt from Darkening on someone's blog, I *knew* I had to have you as my guest.

Wishing you great success with the trilogy!

kate deveaux said...

I loved the post Ashe and can't wait to read the trilogy. The covers are perfect by the way!

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