Today the talented Ashe Barker tells us why animals in a story tells us something about a character. And there’s a very nice price to win as well to celebrate her new title.
I’m always secretly pleased, when I start to read a new story, to find an animal. At least one. There’s something sort of wholesome, something reliable about a hero or heroine with a pet. Animals seem to me to be good judges of character. If his dog likes him, a guy can’t be bad. Cats are even more discerning. Cats don’t give their loyalty cheaply, it has to be earned. You have to deserve a cat.
Even when I don’t exactly plan it, I tend to weave animals into my stories. They just sort of sneak in there and snuggle up to my characters. It’s usually cats who creep under the radar – I have a theory that cats can walk through walls so why wouldn’t they manage to effortlessly inveigle themselves into my stories? But it’s a dog – the adorable Barney – who features most heavily in my Black Combe stories, The Dark Side and Sure Mastery. Even a pair of chickens have walk-on cameo parts.
Some of the most heart-rending moments in my books have concerned the loss of much-loved four-legged characters and the impact this has on the people who love them. I can certainly relate to that – I’ve wept buckets over a cat run over on the road close to my house, or an ancient dog I eventually had to take to the vet’s for the last time. The saddest loss I ever had, in the menagerie which is my home, was a tortoise. Tilly was acquired for a few pence from a pet shop when I was a child, before the practice of importing these creatures from Mediterranean areas was banned in the UK. Every child had one I think, but they usually didn’t survive that long. Tilly did though. She lived in our back garden, and when I grew up and left home I took her with me. She moved house twice, eventually ending up in my third of an acre on the edge of the Bronte moors. She would hibernate in the compost heap, disappearing by about November and re-emerging in March or April. She died a couple of years ago, by which time I’d had her for over forty years. I still miss her, even though I have two young tortoises who live indoors in a terrarium. It’s not the same somehow.
In my current release, The Three Rs, the hero, Cain Parrish inherits a cat, Oscar. Cain’s uncle died and left him his house, and Oscar was already in residence. Even though Cain is convinced Oscar hates him, he takes care of the old cat anyway. When Abigail arrives on the scene she sees straight through that bit of nonsense. Oscar follows Cain everywhere, even sleeps on the landing outside his room. He hisses when Cain tramples on him, but that only happens because the cat is never more than a foot away from his feet. Such feline devotion proves it – Cain Parrish is a Nice Guy.
His deft way with a spanking is just the icing on the cake. How could Abigail possibly resist? As their relationship deepens, and Abigail comes to appreciate exhilarating effect of a well-administered spanking, she begins to ponder other aspects of her life. Can she hold on to her dominant lover and business partner, maybe find a future with him, or will he dump her when he learns of the shameful secret she’s hidden all her life?
Why not join in The Three Rs release celebrations by trying your hand at winning a free copy, or other ebook of your choice, or even a Kindle Fire with a £30 gift voucher? Just enter the competition.
And feel free to join us for the Facebook release party on 28 February, 9.30-11.30pm for prizes, giveaways, and lots of smutty book talk
Here’s the blurb:
Perfect strangers don’t just leave you a share in their business. Do they? And even if they do, surely the rightful owner won’t just take it lying down…?
Abigail Fischer is about to find out. When a mysterious letter arrives informing her that she’s inherited a controlling interest in a thriving construction firm Abigail thinks it must be a mistake. Or a sick joke. Until she’s confronted by her new, very angry and very reluctant business partner. Handsome as sin but determined to be rid of her, Cain Parrish is everything Abigail desires – and most fears. Forced to uproot from her safe but dead-end job to help run the firm, Abigail is quickly drawn to her dominant partner. Attuned to her most secret desires, and able to meet them effortlessly, he quickly finds his way past her defences.
But Abigail is not what she seems. Astute in business and a skilled Dom, Cain can easily demand her submission, but can he find his way past Abigail’s carefully constructed façade to discover the shameful secret she’s managed to conceal all her life. And despite her growing enthusiasm for the new opportunities now facing her, Abigail can’t become something she’s not. Or can she? Is it possible to leave the past behind and start over?
When things start to go wrong in their business, and as Abigail’s blunders threaten to sink their small but up to now profitable enterprise, will their delicate personal relationship survive?
Will Cain forgive Abigail’s mistakes or is there a deeper significance to her apparent ineptitude?
And here’s an excerpt from The Three Rs. This snippet is taken from the bonus chapter, only available when you buy the book direct from Totally Bound.
By the time we’ve returned to Berwick, and stopped off at the yard to pick up some timber which Cain apparently needs in Rothbury tomorrow, it’s after six o’clock and time to head for home. We let ourselves in, and Cain rustles up a lamb keema curry and rice. We eat it in front of the television, washed down with chilled cola. It’s delicious, spicy and sharp, and I wish I could manage to produce something half as tasty. If he ever starts to hold me to our arrangement that we should be sharing the cooking, we’re both in for some considerable disappointment. I say as much as I ram the last mouthful in.
He shakes his head sadly. “Oh I don’t know, I think you underestimate yourself. Cooking’s pretty straightforward. Just a matter of following the instructions on the packet usually.”
I wipe my mouth with a serviette, not buying that for one moment. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing remotely straightforward about following written instructions on the side of anything. And in any case, even I can recognise fresh ingredients when I see them. Or taste them.
“No way that was from a packet. I saw the fresh mince on the worktop, and I watched you chopping onions.”
He shrugs. “Yes, but did you also spot the tinned tomatoes and curry paste?”
I reach for his plate. The least I can do is handle the washing up. “Tinned tomatoes don’t count. Everyone uses them, they’re the best.”
Cain grins again, shaking his head as he lets me take the crockery and load the dishwasher. He follows me into the kitchen. Our usual grey shadow, Oscar, is also there, supervising our activity from his normal seat. I tickle his ears as I pass to put the leftover rice in the fridge, and he purrs loudly.
“You’re making my guard cat soft.”
Cain’s murmured complaint falls on deaf ears as both Oscar and I are now firm friends. I crouch beside the huge cat to stroke his back. He arches and stretches under my hand, and appears to appreciate my attentions. I lean forward to whisper in his furry little pointed ear. “We’re not listening, are we? If he wants guarding, he can get a Rottweiler. Your job is just to keep an eye on things. And purr.”
“Is that right, Miss Fischer. So, that’s Oscar’s role in life settled. And what’s your job then?” Cain is leaning against the worktop, his stance deceptively casual. His tone is low, serious.
I sense the Dom emerging, and maybe something more. Is he on to me somehow? But how? What does he mean? I turn to him, wary, a little confused. That sounds like a loaded question. I try for levity. “My job? How about trainee co-owner? Head of marketing and graphic design?”
Cain shakes his head. “Those are just your day jobs, Miss Fischer. At night, you’re my slut. Agreed?”
Ah, interesting. And far safer than the territory I feared for a moment that we may be straying into. I stand slowly, and turn to meet his gaze. “Yes, agreed.” Probably.
He smiles, inclines his head. “So, Miss Fischer, time to resume your night-time duties then.”
He holds out his hand to me, and I take it without hesitation. Wordlessly, he leads me from the room. I follow him along the hallway and upstairs, to his bedroom. The bedroom I now share, indefinitely it seems.
“Undress, please.” Cain closes the door gently, and leans back against it to watch.
Tipping up my chin, I maintain eye contact as I slip open the buttons on my blouse. I let the light fabric slide down my arms and drop to the carpet, to be followed by my bra, then remain still for a few moments to allow him a good view of my breasts. The room is warm, but still I’m aware of my nipples hardening, puckering in the evening air. He says nothing, but his raised eyebrows signal to me it’s time to continue. Obligingly I unzip my jeans and peel them down my legs. I toe off my trainers, thankful that the laces are loose enough to let my feet slip out. My socks are peeled off with the denim. I straighten again, this time wearing only my knickers, conscious that they are brief and insubstantial enough to hardly count.
Cain seems to think so too, stepping forward to take my face between his palms.
“You truly are lovely, Miss Fischer. Who’d have thought the grumpy little mouse I first saw scurrying out of those school gates would unwrap to this? So tall, so confident.”
He might well have got me confused with someone else, but his tone was low and sexy—that voice that has made my toes curl right from the start. He leans in to brush his mouth over mine, holding my face still for his kiss. He trails his lips down my chin, nipping lightly with his teeth as he nibbles his way along my shoulder bone. He drops his hands to my hips, tugging me in closer, his erection nudging my stomach. My breasts are pressed against his chest as he nuzzles my neck, lifting my hair to reach my nape. I shiver, half in anticipation, half in ticklish response.
“Are you cold, Abbie?” His low murmur is as sensual as his touch.
I shake my head even as I shiver once more.
“Tense then? Anxious maybe? Scared?”
I consider all those possibilities, acknowledging at least to myself the truth of each one. He does make me tense, and anxious. Scared on occasions, though not of this. It’s not his sexual dominance making me afraid. I love that, and I trust Cain completely. I know I’m safe. My fears stem from the certainty that it’s only a matter of time before I’m exposed for the illiterate fraud I am. But not now, not yet. Not here. I sigh deeply as he moves his attention to my other shoulder, tilting my head to give him access. He trails his hands down my back to the light elastic holding up my briefs. He hooks his thumbs in and slowly tugs them down. I wrap my arms around his waist, wriggling my lower body to shake the briefs down my legs. I step out of them, now completely naked.
“Will you trust me, Abbie? Will you let me have my way this evening?”
I bury my nose in his shoulder, my hips gyrating of their own accord. Don’t I always let him have his way?
My non-verbal signals are not sufficient, it seems. “Abbie? Do I have your submission tonight? Totally?”
If you want to read on The Three Rs, complete with bonus chapter, is out now and available from Totally Bound
You can also pick it up from Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com Barnes and Noble All Romance Sony
More about me:
Until 2010 I was a director of a regeneration company in Leeds, in the UK, before becoming convinced there must be more to life. I left to work as an independent consultant, and still do some of that though most of my time is now spent writing. At last I’ve been able to realise my dream of writing erotic romance myself. I’ve been an avid reader of fiction for many years, erotic and other genres, and I still love reading historical and contemporary romances – the hotter the better. But now I have a good excuse for my guilty pleasure – research.
In my own writing I usually draw on settings and anecdotes from my own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to my plots and characters. An incident here, a chance remark there, a bizarre event or quirky character, any of these can spark a story idea. But ultimately my tales of love, challenge, resilience and compassion are the conjurings of my own lurid and smutty imagination.
When not writing – which is not very often these days – my time is divided between my role as resident taxi driver for my teenage daughter, and caring for a menagerie of dogs, rabbits, tortoises. And most recently a very grumpy cockatiel. I’m a rural parish councillor, and I’m passionate about evolving rural traditions and values to suit twenty first century lifestyles.
I’ve completed my third trilogy in the Black Combe ‘family’ which is due for release later this year and I’m well on with writing the fourth. I have a novella coming out soon, a short story in Totally Bound’s Paramour collection, and another in the Jolly Rogered anthology which is due for publication in July 2014. I have a pile of story ideas still to work through, and keep thinking of new ones at the most unlikely moments, so you can expect to see a lot more sexy, sassy stuff from me.
I love to hear from readers and feedback is always welcome. You can find me on my blog, and on the Totally Bound site. I’m on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest, and on Goodreads too. And there’s also my author page on Amazon
Remember, here’s the competition link