Please excuse me for a moment while I go completely fangirl.
***Holy freaking cow, this is an awesome book!***
Okay. Got that out of the way. Will try to compose myself. (See what I did there? I promise, though, no more music puns.)
Ashe Barker’s Darkening is the kind of book I love to read. Intelligent, quirky woman meets intelligent, strong, confident alpha male. Sparks fly. Things progress quickly. Heat ensues, panties melt, asses are spanked and many delicious orgasms are had.
Good golly. Just thinking about how much I enjoyed reading it makes me want to start it over again. Now. This minute.
The characters never did what I expected. When’s the last time you could say that about a book, especially one that, on the surface, brims with tropes? Yes, it’s about BDSM. Yes, Nathan Darke is well-to-do, more experienced, and older than Eva Byrne. Yes, he’s her employer. Well, sort of. More like a client who is hiring the company she works for. But whatever. Maybe you’re thinking uh huh, predictable.
I would have liked to savor every word in Darkening, but I couldn’t. I was a greyhound racing after a lure. The smooth writing, the wonderful dialogue, the pace of the story pulled me along. I had to know, couldn’t wait to find out, what Nathan would do or say next, how Eva would handle the situation, what she would think, say, or do.
Warning: Extremely high heat rating. Addictively interesting characters. Liberal instances of wet panties, sex toys, and corporal punishment.
Maybe I should tell you a bit about the book’s plot. Eva Byrne is 22, has left her job in Academia with all kinds of certifications, and takes a position for the summer teaching violin to a cute little girl. Said cute little girl’s dad is Nathan Darke, a Dom in search of a new sub. Events move swiftly – Nathan ain’t one to let the moss grow under his feet – and before you can say crikey, he’s got Eva all hot and bothered and agreeing to a D/s contract.
What I loved about Darkening: Um. Everything.
If I haven’t made it obvious, I loved the writing and the characters.
It will at first require some suspension of disbelief over how quickly things move between Nathan and Eva. However, the heat between these two is incredible. Tummy-fluttering heat, people. Feel the burn kind of heat. And, there’s more. Eva is a unique personality. As we learn more about her background and her abilities, we see that her decisions – which at first struck me as agreeing too fast – are true to her character.
The book opens on a failed D/s scene between Nathan and some chick whose name I’ve forgotten because she was so wrong for him. We get a peek inside his head during this scene. The mind of Nathan Darke is a dark and sexy place. A bit twisted, but he’s okay with that. So was I.
The rest of the book is told in 1st person from Eva’s POV.
Eva never gives us a clunky info-dump. Instead, our appetites are whetted by a gradual reveal of bits and pieces of Eva’s history and abilities. We build and rebuild a picture in our minds.
So. Well. Done.
Something else I liked: Nathan is a caring and concerned Dom. He’s all over the safe, sane and consensual. Even had Eva read the contract out loud and made sure she knew what everything meant. Annotated it with her comments. I would have been a wriggly mess trying to get through that bit of business.
What you won’t get with this book: a tender romance. Nathan and Eva explore their sexual attraction and learn a bit about each other, but the focus here is on Eva’s sexual awakening and Nathan’s attempts to get her ass the perfect shade of red. I think they’re well suited to one another, and hope the relationship continues to progress in the next two books.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys quirky, smart female characters, Doms who spank hard and deliver tender after-care with lots of Os, gorgeous country settings, great dialogue, and incredibly hot non-vanilla sex. It ends on a cliff-hanger but the other books are already out. I’m off to get my copies of books 2 and 3. Stay tuned for those reviews.
Darkening by Ashe Barker is available through Amazon US, Amazon UK, directly from the publisher (Totally Bound), and probably through other e-tailers. I wrote this unsolicited review because damn, I loved this book.