Monday, May 4, 2009

"The Dark Garden" by Eden Bradley

"Rowan Cassidy likes to be in charge - especially in her personal life. As a mistress at Club Prive, the most exclusive bondage/S&M club on the West Coast, Rowan can live out her dominant fantasies safely, and with complete control - until the night Christian Thorn walks in. Self-confident and sophisticated, he's a natural dominant if Rowan's ever seen one. Yet she can't stop thinking about him and imagining his touch.

Christian has returned home, hoping to break free from his dissatisfaction and malaise - and discovers the cure in Rowan. He's dying to get his skilled hands on her and watch her surrender, to unlock the mystery of her that captivates him. Determined to be her master, he makes Rowan a daring proposition: give herself over to him for thirty days.

Rowan finds Christian's offer terrifying - and impossible to resist. But abandoning herself to Christian's power might be more than she can handle...Or it might be the realization of her true nature and the dark garden within her. There will be only one way to find out. And once the game has begun, there's no turning back."

Yes, this is book is classified as "erotica", but I would argue that it's really nothing more than a romance novel with some more intense and slightly kinkier sex scenes in it. Trust me - if you've read any of the "paranormal romance" that's available out there, the sex in this book isn't going to shock you one bit. If anything, it's a bit on the tame side - just uses a few more explicit terms for certain body parts. I'm still wondering why it showed up in my Amazon recommendations, but I gave it a shot anyway.

The character development is OK, but true to a lot of romance books, everyone in this offering would be considered "perfect". The men are tall, dark, and gorgeous, with the prerequisite 6-pack abs no less! The women (there are two story lines here) are both petite, dainty, and pretty much the perfect size for a "submissive" partner. I'm trying to remember if the term "throbbing member" showed up anywhere! LOL! The sex scenes themselves were decent, but I've read much hotter writing in "normal" romances.

Why am I dogging on the "erotic" part of this book and downgrading it to "romance" novel? Because in my opinion, an erotic offering is just that - it's very, very sensual and really makes your blood steam. It gives you fantasies. It makes you blush to think that anyone knows you're reading it. Sometimes, it just plain makes you blush. This book? Um, not so much. And I think the reason it doesn't feel right to me is that it's very clear from almost the beginning of the book that Rowan and Christian are going to fall in love. Same with the subplot of April and Decker. Both couples are supposed to be BDSM partners playing out scenes, but the dialogue between them suggests that all will end happily in much more "normal" coupledom. In fact, by the end of the book, even the sex is "normal" for the most part, with the whips and floggers and other BDSM toys put away.

Overall, it's not a bad read - short and pretty simple. As for plot, character, and all the rest of it, it's was a solid "C". I'd put it up there with the sort of movie you can watch on the weekend when there's nothing else on. It may not be Oscar material, but it'll do in a pinch (no pun intended!) and quickly forgotten afterwards.

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