Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chameleon by Ashe Barker

Title: Chameleon
Author: Ashe Barker
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Genre: BDSM 

The Magic of Totally Five Star

I love to travel, mainly for leisure but occasionally for business too, and there are few sights more welcome than the calm oasis of a hotel reception area at the end of a long journey. Air conditioning is a must, but also glamour, style, efficiency - all help to set the tone. It should offer a welcome that draws guests in without being over-familiar, oozing confidence and charm.

The Totally Five Star imprint takes all that is best in world class hotels and puts knobs on.

As soon as I read about the new imprint I wanted to be a part of it, and I particularly wanted to tell the Marrakesh story. I could already visualise the Marrakesh hotel. It would be traditional, true to Moroccan architecture and culture, but offering everything the discerning traveller could desire and more besides.

The guest accommodation in TFS Marrakesh is designed around the local tradition of riads. These are secluded residential villas built around a central courtyard. They offer privacy and shade, and are perfectly attuned to the Moroccan climate. 

The TFS hotel design echoes the architecture and cultural flavour of the local medinas and souks, connected by a warren of passages used by staff. Guests are assured privacy – which is of course just what Ethan and Fleur desire – whilst enjoying the absolute finest cuisine and service to be found anywhere in the world. It is a place both exotic and evocative, but sacrificing nothing in luxury and facilities.

And it does exist, more or less. I modelled my TFS Marrakesh on the real Hotel Royal Mansour which is right in the heart of Marrakesh. Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia’s entry describing this magical place.

Upon entering the great gate guests will discover the enchanting courtyard – an oasis of peace and calm. Vividly coloured and sweet scented flora and a multitude of trees and plants are laid out in geometric designs around a beautiful fountain in the centre. The perfect symmetry is reminiscent of the gardens of the Alhambra Palace in Granada and provides guests with an exquisite retreat where they can read quietly or simply lose themselves in the wonder of the environment.

Who could resist? Certainly not Ethan and Fleur. And not me either. I felt this typified what the finest hotel chain in the world should aspire to. It should drip with atmosphere, yet be ultra-modern too, the perfect backdrop for sexy, sensual story-telling.
I hope my Marrakesh slice of heaven manages to do that

Blurb for Chameleon:

A chance meeting, two strangers whose paths cross—in the same place at the same time, yet a world apart. 

When mining engineer Ethan Savage spots the cloaked, veiled woman riding a donkey in the Moroccan desert, he can be forgiven for thinking that in some respects nothing much has changed in two thousand years. She wouldn’t look out of place in Biblical times. They pass, nod, smile politely and go their separate ways, two strangers a world apart.

But when, moments later, she rescues him from his crashed car, the first words she utters make Ethan realise that appearances can be deceptive. His little Berber peasant is not what she seems.

Shifting effortlessly between her traditional roots in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and her professional life as the Totally Five Star hotel doctor, Fleur is a human chameleon, able to adapt and blend into any environment. At first irritated then amused by the handsome stranger, Fleur knows the assumptions he’s made about her. As their paths cross once more at the luxurious hotel, she realises he, too, is not all he seems. This sexy Englishman holds the key to her most secret and sensual desires, dangerous yearnings she’s kept locked away for years. Now she has a choice to make.

Ethan is only in Marrakesh for a few days, then he’ll be gone and she’ll never see him again. No one will ever know, so surely it will do no harm? Can she pass up this opportunity? And once she’s trusted him with her body, experienced all he can offer, will she be able to return to her old life? Or will the sensual chameleon need to reinvent herself once again to fit into his world?

Like the sound of Chameleon? Buy it here.

About Ashe Barker:

Until 2010 I was a director of a regeneration company in Leeds, in the UK, before becoming convinced there must be more to life. So I left, and at last I’ve been able to realise my dream of writing erotic romance. I’ve been writing seriously for about two years but I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, erotic and other genres.  I love reading historical and contemporary romances in all pairings – the hotter the better. But now I have a good excuse for my guilty pleasure – research.

In my own writing I draw on settings and anecdotes from my own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to my plots and characters. My stories are often set in the north of England where I live but I draw inspiration from all over. 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.

On the rare occasions I’m not writing 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.

My other titles include the ‘Black Combe’ trilogies, The Dark Side, Sure Mastery, The Hardest Word and A Richness of Swallows, all set in the atmospheric moorland of West Yorkshire or Cumbria and with a strong BDSM theme. The Three Rs, part of Totally Bound’s What’s Her Secret? imprint is a stand-alone novel set in Berwick in the Scottish border. I’ve also written a couple of short stories, Re-Awakening, and a raunchy pirate tale, Right of Salvage, as well as a novella, Carrot and Coriander.

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 from me.

I love to hear from readers. You can find me on my blog, and I’m on Facebook, and twitter too. And more recently on Tsu

Excerpt from Chameleon:

The space was every bit as perfect as she remembered, quite palatial, the utmost in traditional Moroccan opulence yet underscored with the most modern facilities available anywhere in the world. An iPod and mobile phone docking station had been built into the wall over the dressing table, air conditioning of course, top of the range coffeemaker, every variety of tea imaginable, minibar, room service offering everything from a portion of hand-cooked crisps to a four-course dinner for twelve. The fresh fruit came as standard, as did the flowers, which were changed daily. The Totally Five Star knew how to take care of its guests. And its consultants who happened to be friends of the CEO.

The bed dominated the room. She estimated it to be at least seven feet wide, floating on a small platform and lit from below. Cedar wood panels made up the floor, the cool surface broken by stepping stones of hand-made Berber carpets. These drew Fleur’s expert eye as she appreciated the thousands of hours of nimble-fingered artisanship that had gone into the weaving. Each carpet was unique, each as much a statement about the woman who had created it as the location it would eventually grace.

Ethan drew her into the room but not immediately to the bed. He led her instead to the deeply upholstered window seat overlooking the courtyard where they had cavorted just minutes ago. He seated her then turned to take a bottle of chilling champagne from a cooler on a low table alongside the window. He poured them each a half glass, handing one to Fleur. She accepted it, sipping the light bubbles daintily. Ethan took his place at the other end of the seat and leant forward to clink his glass against hers.

“It’s good to have you here, Fleur.”

“Yes, I know. I mean…” She shook her head, trying to get the words right. Usually her command of English was so much more sophisticated. He somehow managed to confuse her, without apparently even trying. “I mean, I am glad to be here too.”

He smiled, understanding perfectly. “No second thoughts? No regrets?”

“No. Absolutely none.” Over the rim of her champagne flute, she eyed the huge bed with a mounting degree of impatience. That was where she wanted to be, but her host seemed not to share her sense of urgency. With a resigned sigh, she knew that this was not to be a hurried encounter. She leant back, noting with amused interest how little her nudity now concerned her. His too. On the contrary, she felt oddly liberated by it. She sipped her bubbles and allowed her gaze to wander around the luxurious surroundings.

On her rounds taking care of the sick and the sunburned, Fleur had seen many of the riads that made up the guest accommodation at the Marrakesh Totally Five Star. All were different, each one unique, but all offered the ultimate in comfort and style. Even so, she thought that this must be one of the finest suites in the hotel. Hangings of pure silk adorned the walls, bright splashes of burnt orange, vibrant reds, earthy browns perfectly complementing the natural tones of wood. The soft lighting was provided by two chandeliers, one directly above the bed, the other above the dressing table and seating area. 

The illumination was controlled by a remote dimmer switch. Ethan adjusted the level until he achieved what he must consider the optimum blend of practicality and intimacy. She thought he had it just right as she glanced at her companion, his eyes glimmering a deep, dark blue in the muted illumination.

“We have a candle-lit bathroom I thought might be nice later. I’m minded to experiment with the house speciality—rose petals. How does that sound to you?”

Fleur smiled mischievously, entering into the spirit of his easy seduction. She was, after all, sold. “It sounds wonderful. I do not think I have ever had a rose-petal bath before.”

“No? Me neither. I’m sure I’d have remembered. Music?”

Fleur shrugged. “If you like. What do you have?”

“Everything, I should think.” He stood, walked across the room to the dressing table to activate the inbuilt sound system. Moments later, the soft strains of Chopin drifted from the concealed speakers. “Okay?”

Fleur nodded and sipped her remaining champagne quietly. Waiting. Patient. She set her empty flute back on the low table and turned to Ethan.
“May I kiss you?”

Enter our competition for the chance to win a copy of Chameleon, and three books from Ashe Barker’s backlist!

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