Sunday, 25 October 2015

Book Review - Tell Me by Ashe Barker

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Tell Me

A friend recommended that I read Ashe Barker's modern-day Yorkshire-based BDSM romance Tell Me. "You'll love it," she told me. "There's loads of tea-drinking in it."

She wasn't being sarcastic, by the way. I really do love me some tea-drinking. I've blogged about it and everything.

Tell Me's heroine Thea is equally fond of a cuppa and the fact that she favours Earl Grey as her blend of choice endears her to me still further. Earl Grey is the King Of Teas (or, I guess more accurately, the Earl of Teas) and is suitable for any beverage drinking occasion. Especially pre- and post-BDSM spanking scenarios. Tea-drinking tends to feature in my real-life spanking experiences a lot - largely because it suits the occasion so much better than, say, a big ol' load of alcohol. Something that Twinings weirdly never seem to mention it in its advertising.

Just been spanked? Have a brew.

This book isn't all about the tea-drinking, of course (although I counted over a dozen separate Earl Grey-sipping incidents, so if you are as attracted to the tea-drinking aspects as I am, you won't be disappointed).

The book's heroine, Thea has a been enjoying a mutually satisfying BDSM relationship with her Dom, Tony diMarco during their frequent rendez-vous at a local Kink Club. The arrangement suits Thea very well as the private anonymous club allows her to keep the submissive side of herself entirely separate from the rest of her life.

Thea's private, public and professional life coincide when she is temporarily seconded to provide business expertise to another company and discovers that the CEO to whom she'll be reporting is none other than her sexy, very dominant playfellow, Tony. This initially sends her into a tailspin as she struggles to reconcile the very different aspects of her personality. That of being both an intelligent, successful businesswoman and also the sort of person who likes to submit to being tied up and punished.

The new situation is just as much a surprise for Tony but he handles the whole thing in a far more relaxed fashion. He is very keen to take things with Thea to the next level and - via kinky spankings, tea-making and generally being bloody lovely - persuades Thea to embark on a romantic relationship outside of the confines of their BDSM club.

While they are busy redefining the parameters of their relationship, Thea and Tony are also sorting out the various corporate challenges that face them at Something-Or-Other Industries. I found the business-side aspects the least engaging part of the book, to be honest. It's Ashe Barker's fault for making all the legal and HR aspects of the business so realistic. I've only recently managed to escape the world of Office-based employment. Corporate meetings in boardrooms do nothing for me.

First Item on the Agenda: Getting some more effective blinds.
The relationship between Thea and Tony is just wonderful, though. They are both beautifully drawn characters. Tony may be a high-powered Leader of Industry and a stern spanky Dominant but he's clearly a lovely bloke with not a whiff of Christian Grey-style dickishness about him. And Thea is great. There's always a risk when writing characters who embrace their submissive side that you can end up with a heroine who comes across as a bit weak and doormat-y. There's no chance of that here. For all her fears and reservations, Thea is a strong, confident, intelligent woman who is professionally at the top of her game. And, despite a few wobbles, she is clever enough to realise that her D/s relationship with Tony makes her a stronger - rather than a weaker - person.

Oh, and did I mention the BDSM scenes in Tell Me are very hot? And delightfully frequent?
Thea knew what he wanted, and that he would continue to punish her poor throbbing bottom until he was satisfied all resistance had gone. She concentrated on not not tightening her muscles, working to accept all that he offered.
The blows all melted into one. Her bottom was on fire, her thighs too as he dropped stroke after sizzling stroke on her unprotected skin. She would inspect later, but knew her backside must be bright crimson. The pain was relentless, building, growing, spreading, consuming her. Thea sobbed and screamed behind the gag.
The couple provide a united front dealing with their developing romantic and business relationship tackling corporate malpractice, industrial sabotage and a very nasty Revenge Porn incident. Even during their trickier moments, there is no doubt that these two people belong together.

Thea and Tony's mutually supportive and utterly kinky relationship made me feel all warm inside. And I'm pretty sure that wasn't just down to the piping hot mug of Earl Grey I was sipping while reading it.

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