BDSM Reviews

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Dark Garden By: Eden Bradley

Title: The Dark Garden
Author: Eden Bradley
Publisher: Bantam Books
ISBN: 978-0-553-58973-3
On Sale: May 29, 2007

Available through preorder: and Barnes and Nobles

Rating 5 out of 5

Rowan is a Dominant. She's great at her play and has submissives waiting to serve her at every play party. Lately, however, something has been missing from her life. She's started a story about a submissive woman, but even her writing isn't bringing out the usual mind clearing that she seeks. No, there is something else going on and when she meets Christian Thorne at a play party one night she finds out all too quickly and to her dismay what she's been missing.

Christian is an artist and Dominant. He's moved recently from overseas back home in Venice, California. Immediately he sets out to involve himself in the local BDSM scene and is struck by the beautiful and Dominant Rowan. He sees something in her that Rowan had hoped she left behind many years before this. His goal is to prove to her that she does have a submissive side. He challenges her to thirty days with him and if he can't bring out her submissive nature then he'll leave it alone.

At first it seems as though there is nothing to lose only gain from the experience. But, even from the first moment that she allows Christian to tie her up in the most romantic way, using flowers as rope, she can't keep old memories from being forced upward. She's put her past behind her or so she believes. She's too proud to ask for help and runs at every turn. She fights her submissive side that came to her so easily from the moment she walked through the door. Something about him brings out the side of her she put aside so long ago. Rowan finds herself unable to control her submissive role, but too frightened to fully give in. Admitting to herself that she's a submissive at heart would break through the walls she has so carefully built.

Christian has his work cut out for him. He's always taken care of his family, always made sure they wanted for nothing, that he was there for them through everything. With his mother gone now and his sister happily married, he has no one left to take care of but himself. Seeing that he could be there to move Rowan to a better place with herself and bring to life a side of her he knows is there seems like the perfect solution. In too deep, Rowan does the only thing she knows how to do. Runaway. This is a fight Christian can't win. So he leaves it up to her figure out what she needs. That's if she wants to truly move forward in life.

It's hard to explain all the emotions going through me about The Dark Garden. I don't know rather to laugh, cry or shudder in ecstasy. Eden Bradley is an amazing writer. If she doesn't become the next big name in erotica I'll be a monkey's uncle.

She had me on the edge of my seat from page one. Not with the actions, but with the emotions of the characters. Christian and Rowan are an emotional pair that had me teary eyed from the first bondage scene. I could so easily identify with Rowan. Her inner struggles. What it would mean to give up that carefully laid facade to someone that you barely know. Worse, if it all goes wrong, she's the one left to pay the price. There is a moment from her past that she doesn't want to share with him, but, don't we all have secrets that we don't want to part with? Secrets that were just too terrible for us to give over to another? It's her story to tell, so I won't go into it. But, it lays the foundation for an inner struggle that isn't easily relinquished. Rowan was just so real as a heroine, so complex. I loved the way Eden refused to let you out of her head no matter the circumstances.

I've never seen scenes describing subspace in such a literal sense that made you feel raw and open the way Rowan was in this book. It was amazing that you knew the exact moment she gave in without reading that she gave in. That's when you know an author has dragged you in so completely. You've become the character without knowing it. You're drifting on the edge as she is drifting. Her moments written from the Dominant perspective had me panting for more. He's so in tune with her. He learns so quickly what every little breath means, what each move represents, he can read between the lines when she talks to him and he demands without pressuring her, her complete surrender. A more perfect Dominant, I've never seen. He was a beautiful specimen of how a Top should behave. He may have wanted more, he may have wanted to push her further, but you would have never known it because he was doing this for her. It showed in every page, every scene and every emotion. The play scenes in this book, put simply, were powerful. By the end of each scene I was wishing my husband was home and unable to walk because my knees were too weak.

I've read a lot of great books, even through BDSM Reviews, but, I've never been this emotionally involved with the characters. Every time Rowan cried, I cried, when she was happy I was happy. It wasn't the description as much as it was the sheer realness (is that even a word) of her character. Who hasn't had their doubts about the role they have chosen? And that was the valuable lesson she had to learn. This lifestyle is not about choosing who you want to be. It's about sinking into the role that was chosen for you. Eden taught this lesson better than I've ever seen. I hope to see it again.

There is a bonus story to this novel. It's the story of Decker and April. At first it seemed as though they were just going to be a little side note to the story line, but I felt as though they received equal book time. Normally, this bugs me. It'll drag me out of a story and I'll toss the book in the piles of books that I've never finished reading for one reason or another. Decker and April's story was so intriguing and so sweet that I couldn't bring myself to become as frustrated as I generally do. Instead, I felt as though this brought a lighter side to the story that would have been too heavy otherwise.

April is a character that knows who she is and what she wants. She's accepted her submissive side and has found the man she wants to further her education. This man however, has a nasty reputation of playing with a woman once and leaving her behind with her half in love with him. This is a story line you don't want to miss. I found it to be the perfect opposite of Christian and Rowan's story. Plus you get to see a rougher side to BDSM that you would have otherwise missed out on through Rowan's self discovery.

I'm still reeling from this book and probably will be on a high for the next several days. It was everything and more than what I had expected. How Eden Bradley will top this, I don't know, but I definitely want to find out.

Posted by Miranda Heart :: 5:55 PM :: 3 Comments:

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