The Dark Garden was originally published in the US in 2007 and has just been released for the first time in the UK. The story has been recommended for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey (FSoG) but the only real similarities between the two books are that they both have a main character called Christian and that they both include light BDSM. Having said that if reading FSoG gave you the inclination to find out more about the BDSM lifestyle then this book makes an interesting next step.
Rowan is a Domme at an exclusive BDSM club but has recently been finding her time playing with the submissive boys she usually favours has started getting a little dull. She finds herself irresistibly drawn to Dom Christian but has learnt from experience that being a submissive doesn't work for her. Christian is convinced that deep down Rowan is more sub than Domme and just wants a chance to prove it to her. He asks her to give him 30 days to show her her submissive side and its an offer she can't refuse.
I still consider myself fairly new to the erotic BDSM genre so I wasn't too sure what to expect from The Dark Garden. I was a bit nervous that it might be too hardcore but it was actually much lighter than I expected it to be. I did learn quite a bit about the BDSM community as I was reading though. I'd never come across things like subspace or vampire gloves before but they were introduced in a way that made them fascinating and left me wanting to find out more.
I really loved Christian's character, the way he is so caring towards Rowan and he works so hard to slowly bring out her submissive side was really sweet. Although he is a Dom he was very patient with her and took the time she needed to gradually push past her fears. Rowan had been badly hurt in the past and was terrified of the idea of giving someone else control over her life. She has spent years hiding her submissive nature and trying to convince herself that she is a dominant so it isn't easy for her to accept the feelings that Christian brings out in her. I think most of us can find it easy to relate to her struggle to give up control - although the idea of submission intrigues me I don't know if it is something I'd actually be able to do in reality. The way their relationship developed felt very natural although I did find the ending a little rushed.
I also really enjoyed the side romance between April and Decker, in fact I developed a serious crush on Decker and would have loved to have seen more of him. April is a natural submissive and although she is newer to the BDSM scene than Rowan I liked the way she helped Rowan put her feelings into perspective. My only complaint was that I wanted more of their story - and would have especially loved to have seen some scenes from Decker's point of view. I wanted to know why he did certain things and to see him explain his actions to April. They make such a perfect couple that I would have loved to read about them in a full length book.
Overall The Dark Garden was an enjoyable read and one I would recommend. This is the first book I've read by Eden Bradley and I'll definitely be looking out for more of her books in the future. Don't pick this up expecting to find something similar to FSoG or you might find yourself disappointed. However, if you pick it up wanting to learn more about what it is like to become a submissive and hand complete control to someone else then you'll find it an enjoyable read.