I have the fantastic pleasure of welcoming back author Ashe Barker! With all of Ashe’s books receiving their share of 5 Star ratings and reviews, Unsure being an ARe Best Seller, and her Dark Side series being Totally Bound Best Sellers, there’s no doubt that Carrot & Coriander is most definitely one to check out!
Please join me in welcoming Ashe and feel free to leave a comment or two. 🙂
It’s fantastic to be back as a guest with the wonderful Jennifer Wright. Thanks, Jen, for inviting me to join you on your blog again, this time to give a bit of a shout out about Carrot and Coriander, my latest title which went on general release last week.
First things first, I LOVE the cover. This is just a little out of my normal cover art comfort zone, but the graphics team at Totally Bound have done their customary stellar job and captured just the essence I was looking for. It’s fresh, maybe a little fruity, but with lashings of kink. Oh, and it’s not a cook book.
Carrot and Coriander is a quick read, shorter than my usual stories. It tells of Rachel, a self-employed accountant bringing up a young son alone, and Callum, the casual gardener she hires to build a rockery. Not that Rachel needs a rockery, or even wants one particularly. She just likes looking at the sexy gardener working outside her kitchen window. And when she offers to share her lunch with him, a bowl of home-made carrot and coriander soup, well she’s just being considerate. She has plenty to spare.
Opposites attract, and this pair could not be more different. Or less well suited. Old enough to be his mother or so she thinks, Rachel can’t believe that a younger man would be interested in her. And the things he seems interested in having her do – wow! A respectable accountant really should know better. He may be young but Callum is a persuasive and skilled Dom, and Rachel’s inner submissive is soon on the loose. It isn’t long before the rockery is abandoned along with double entry book-keeping as the pair discover more entertaining ways to fill their time.
One of the core things I wanted to do when I wrote this novella was to challenge stereotypes and get behind and beyond what seems ‘normal’ and acceptable. Callum and Rachel are separated by much more than just an age gap. They come from completely different backgrounds and have diametrically opposed outlooks on life. How much does that matter though? What are the fundamentals in a relationship, and how much can people adapt, shifting their perspective to accommodate someone else?
In reality I’m convinced we do this all the time. I know lots of couples who on the face of it should have nothing in common but get along famously. Opposites don’t just attract. They also complement, and challenge, and complete. It’s the differences surely that keep life interesting.
Rachel is drawn to the sexy young gardener offering to do odd jobs around her neighbourhood, no reasonable offer refused. She soon dreams up something for him to do at the bottom of her garden, and the view from her window is much improved as he works outside.
Callum can feel her gaze on him, can sense her fascination, but he has very particular requirements and he’s not at all sure his taste runs to middle aged freelance accountants, and a single mother at that.
However their attraction to each other is powerful, and as Callum starts to recognise the signals of willing submission which Rachel unconsciously gives off, he knows he must have her. Their passionate encounters liberate Rachel, unlocking her desires and demanding her surrender, while challenging all her inhibitions.
But when she learns the secrets of her sexy young lover’s misspent youth, can she get past her pre-conceived certainties to find a way for them to move on – together. Or was their new-found happiness doomed from the start?
Opposites attract, but are some differences just too deep to overcome?
Here’s an excerpt:
“I’ve got soup.”
The quiet, feminine voice startled him. He hadn’t heard her approach, so she must have come out of the back door this time. Watching him when she thought he couldn’t see her, and now sneaking up behind him. She made him uneasy, edgy even. Truth was, he was itching to get his hands on her. His grubby, rough hands all over her smooth perfection. Not that he would. Well, not unless she asked very nicely.
She shifted, dropped her gaze again as she started to back away. Callum realised he’d been glaring at her. Shit—no good came of scaring his customers. But there was something about her manner, her shyness, that appealed. That seemed familiar. Surely she wasn’t…? Wouldn’t…? Would she?
“I’m sorry. I was miles away. What did you say?” He pushed his lips into a grin of sorts. The friendliest he could conjure up at short notice. But he was trying.
“Soup. Carrot and coriander. I made it. Lots of it. Too much just for me and Jacob. I wondered if you’d like some. For lunch or maybe you could take some with you…”
Her voice trailed away, and he pulled himself up short as he caught himself glaring again. Bad habit. But soup! Did he look like the carrot and coriander sort? He was about to refuse, as politely as he could manage, but something stopped him. Maybe her obvious nervousness around him—was she actually shaking? And he did like carrots at least. Occasionally.
“Thank you. Soup would be…nice.” Had he actually just said that?
Apparently he had because she smiled, her face lighting up before she dropped her gaze again. But not before he noticed she had green eyes, reminding him of a rather nice BMW he’d once nicked. Her hair was a definite red now he saw it up close, with chestnut highlights. He smiled back. A real smile this time, his pleasure genuine because she was sweet, nice, and he was beginning to think she might be so much more.
“Would you like to join me? Unless you’ve got other plans, of course…”
‘Other plans’ would have extended only as far as the fish and chip shop two streets away. He found himself accepting her invitation to lunch, and it was not until afterwards that he remembered he was filthy, hadn’t showered in days, and probably smelt like mouldy cheese. Still, it was done now. And he could always have his soup outside.
Except she had other ideas. “Great. Lovely. Just come on inside then, when you’re ready. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
And so she was, all homely and sweet and wholesome, folding freshly washed laundry into a pile for ironing, as he entered from the back garden. He estimated her to be around forty, almost twice his age, but shit, she was still hot. In a moment of weakness his unruly mind conjured up a distinctly graphic image involving Mrs Saunders, her ironing board, and maybe a couple of clothes pegs. She’d be naked, naturally, and draped on her back along the length of her ironing board, her hands secured beneath it. Her thighs would be spread wide, her pussy slick and glistening, open to his touch. The clothes pegs would be pressed into service as nipple clamps. Crude perhaps, but perfectly functional. Maybe he could even find another one for her clit…
His cock started to harden as he warmed to his theme so he stifled it, fast. He was here to eat. He cleared his throat, then, “I need to wash my hands, if that’s alright?” And the rest!
“Of course. Help yourself. I’ll get your soup.”
She drifted across the large kitchen to rummage in a cupboard, pulled out two pretty yellow and blue bowls then set them on the worktop next to the stove. A large pan sat there, wisps of steam floating from its surface. Mrs Saunders picked up a spatula and stirred its contents gently before ladling generous helpings into each bowl. She carried them carefully over to the table under the window then set them down. Moving up close to Callum as he rinsed his hands under the warm tap, she dug in the drawer next to the sink for cutlery. He was amazed—her closeness was doing nothing to help reduce his inconvenient hard-on. It might be just her, that pleasant, flowery smell perhaps. Not overtly and intentionally sexy perhaps but still, there was a distinct—something—about the alluring Mrs Saunders of the downcast eyes and inappropriately placed rockery.
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 fourth trilogy in the Black Combe ‘family’ which is due for release later this year to join the titles already out there. I have a short story in Totally Bound’s Paramour collection and another in the Jolly Rogered collection 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