A little bit about the book:
Andee Carlisle, a 26-year-old party girl college student is struggling to complete the final course she needs for graduation before her long-suffering father cuts off financial support. She has a problem — the loss of her vision (temporarily, she hopes) to a nasty eye infection. Completing her review of Hamlet seems impossible under the circumstances, until her best friend, Leila, contacts Buckley Resources and arranges for a reader to spend time with Andee and help her prepare for the test.
Retired Coast Guard officer Nick Benjamin is the best Buckley’s has to offer and Shakespeare’s tale is his favorite. Unfortunately for the state of Miss Carlisle’s virgin backside, but propitiously for her future, he is also an experienced domestic disciplinarian who accepts her not only as a student in need of a teacher, but also as a headstrong and misguided young woman in need of direction.
Andee’s frustrations, fears and growing emotional attachment to Nick have erupted in a painful alcohol-related accident and Nick has tried to soothe her physical and emotional feelings. But Andee, in her usual perverse frame of mind, is determined to push him into an encounter that is certain to make her even more uncomfortable.
This is a very poignant romance, the type romance readers love, with a well-crafted domestic discipline subtext.
I'm here with Ashlynn and I had a few questions.
What made you choose a blind girl as the heroine and how does her blindness work into the story?
The idea for the story actually came about because a writer friend got a job reading exam questions for someone who had difficulty interpreting written material within the time limit allowed. I had never thought about anyone having such a job, but once he mentioned the experience, I started thinking of others who might require such services.
Another friend who was going through terrible vision problems with an eye infection came to mind right away. I thought about the difficulty she was facing in every day life and how bravely she was meeting the challenge and just began to wonder how someone who was already dealing with some daunting emotional issues might handle a physical challenge to top it all off.
I wondered, too, how the loss of vision would affect someone’s other senses and, in particular, what it would be like to experience the discipline of a spanking, or corner time, without being able to see what was going to happen. The idea intrigued me, and I hoped it would others.
What is the essence of the romantic conflict between hero and heroine?
They have some difficulty communicating -- partly because Andee, not yet accustomed to fully utilizing her other senses, is hindered by an inability to pick up on the visual signals we depend on without even realizing it to figure out what someone is really trying to tell us, and partly because they are both so sure they will be rejected if their “true” selves are revealed. Andee’s tumultuous relationship with her father also complicates the picture.
Which character is more captured by the notion of spanking as a disciplinary or erotic practice?
That’s a difficult one to answer, because both Andee and Nick know what they want. Nick has the advantage of age and experience, however, while Andee has only imagined what her role might be like.
How does the other one process that?
Nick knows, both intuitively and from Andee’s reactions to their first disciplinary encounter, what she is asking for by her behavior. He is willing to provide what she needs, but he is reluctant to assume the paternal role in her life that he knows she also yearns to have filled.
Andee is feeling her way through the emotional mine field that many of us who are bottoms find ourselves facing as we try to figure out why we so desperately need what we can no longer deny we have to have.
Why have you written the story as two books in one volume?
Initially, I only planned one book. Two problems emerged as soon as I finished it though: I missed my characters terribly and was not ready to let them go, and my unofficial editor told me there had to be more to their story and I must write a sequel that let readers know what happened beyond the surprise ending.
The idea of combining the two books I ended up with came in the form of advice from potential publishers. They assured me their readers did not like sequels. Easy enough to fix.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
“I got in touch with Leila and told her she had the night off,” he said. “It’s a little after four now. We’ll work until six or so, and then I’ll get us some supper. We should be able to finish up by nine, if you work hard.”
“You are such a slave driver.”
“And you are such a whiner. Now that we’ve settled our roles in life, let’s talk about Hamlet.”
“But I’m hungry.”
“Good. Have an apple. I’ll even spread it with peanut butter for you. Trust me. You’ll love it,” he said when she grimaced and recoiled as he pushed the piece he had hastily prepared into her hand.
“I have bread and jelly. That’s what you do with peanut butter.”
“Apple is what you do if you want to eat healthy. And next time, buy a brand with less sugar in it.”
Before she could protest, he began reading, but he noticed from the corner of his eye that she went from tentatively licking to eagerly consuming the apple and its swirl of Jiffy. He could do a lot with her, he thought, given time. Then he stumbled over a simple four-letter word at the very idea.
Two hours later he finished his fourth glass of water and cleared his throat.
“Why don’t you find your cap and sunglasses? We’ll walk over to the Sand Castle and get some grilled fish. My treat.”
“Fried shrimp. And we’re eating outside. Not near anybody either.”
“Did anyone ever compliment you on your splendid manners and pleasant demeanor?”
She tossed her head and pointedly refused to answer.
“Well, there’s a reason why not, missy. Now hustle up.”
She flounced, grumbling, back to her bedside and, bending down to reach for the purse she apparently expected to be there, got out her sunglasses and put them on, then marched, straight-backed and still fussing, to her bureau and pulled open the drawer to get out her concealing cap.
Dinner out was not the pleasant diversion he had hoped for. He finally gave up attempts at conversation. They were home again, enveloped in a strained silence of Andee’s design, in less than an hour.
They put in another two back at the kitchen table, but Nick was uncertain how much she was absorbing of the lesson. Even her posture said her frame of mind was combative.
“Go ahead and tell me what you’re upset about,” he said finally, “but let me warn you, I won’t tolerate disrespectful behavior or another tantrum. There have been quite enough of those today.”
“Oh, really.” There was barely concealed rage in her voice. “Well, you’re not the one with glue holding your hand together or patches over your eyes. You’re not the one that got treated like a baby in some stupid doctor’s office with some idiot nurse jabbing at your bum. It’s not you that --” Her voice was rising in pitch and volume and she was half out of her chair, balancing on the table with her good hand and leaning toward him.
“You’re quite right. But I am the one who is holding you responsible for your outrageous behavior over the last twenty-four hours or so. And I’m about half an inch away from teaching you a lesson you won’t forget anytime soon, young lady. So I suggest you modify your tone and control your actions.”
She slapped the table half a foot in front of him and then twisted away with a decidedly unattractive sneer on her face to flounce off. “And I suggest you kiss my –”
Before she could complete the thought or take a first step, he had come to his feet and grabbed her around the waist, pinning her arms to her sides in the process and forcing her over with the weight of his upper body against her shoulder.
“I’m. Having. None. Of. That,” he said, emphasizing each word with a firm swat to her bottom that had her yelping and struggling in his hold. He hauled her upright then and, grasping her shoulders, made her face him while he went on in the low, weighted tone she had already come to associate with serious menace. “In fact, little girl, I’m about to show you exactly what happens when you deliberately behave like a spoiled brat. And you can’t say I haven’t already warned you. So don’t bother pretending you don’t know you had this coming.”
It took her a moment to realize that while he was lecturing her, Mr. Benjamin had also been unsnapping her jeans and shoving them down to her knees. Then he wheeled her around and marched her the few steps toward her sleeping area, a journey she made on stumbling tiptoe while he grasped her waist with both hands and steadied her, lest she take a tumble. She had just formulated the words of outrage she wanted to utter and found the breath to screech them when he sat down and tumbled her across his lap, her arms flying out to catch the weight of her upper body as she landed on the futon, while her legs jackknifed up toward her back.
He pushed her feet back in the direction of the floor and she tried to lever her upper body upright, but he laid his arm firmly across her back and pinned her to his lap.
“The more you fight me, the harder this is going to be. You know you deserve this spanking, so it’s in your best interest to take it like a good girl and thank me nicely when I decide you’ve learned your lesson.”
“Like hell I –”
“Yes, you certainly will. Especially after that,” he said and set to work, focusing all her attention on her practically virgin bottom, where his broad, hard palm was lighting a fire.
He peppered her powder blue sheer panties with two dozen sharp, well-spaced and carefully placed smacks before he interrupted her outraged howls with additional lecture.
“I did not take this job to babysit a spoiled brat. I’ve warned you repeatedly about your behavior and already given you a taste of the medicine that you apparently need to get over being a pain in the rear end. But that spoonful clearly wasn’t enough to cure you, so you’re going to get a bigger dose now, and I can promise you it will be a major pain in your little rear end.”
With that, he hooked a finger in the elastic around her waist and tugged down the nylon concealing her well-rounded charms. Andee bucked wildly on his lap and struggled to gain her feet, protesting with squeals and shrieks, but he simply shifted her forward a bit, eased his right leg out from under her weight, and then locked it in place over her calves to help frame the recently bared area bounded at the other end by his left arm.
Then he clamped his jaw and went to work, putting real sting into the effort. The round, pinkened hillocks jiggled enticingly as his palm made repeated contact. He threw preference for pattern aside and spanked randomly, sometimes concentrating on the crown of one cheek, sometimes the outside of the other, sometimes taking both tempting targets into account with solid smacks across the great divide. Finally he moved on to his favorite area and put all his determination into shifting each cheek upwards by turn with well-placed smacks whose purpose was no longer to flatten the target but to make it rise and then tremble alluringly back into place at the top of her white, contrasting thigh. His effort won him outraged howls and then pleas and then – finally – a wail of surrender. When he stopped, it was to swipe his forearm across his glistening brow and, then, to cup the cheeks he had just painted bright pink.
“That was for the stunt you pulled last night with the whiskey and your little fling this morning.”
He felt her go still, her body tense with expectation, and her voice silent, for once. His tone and his words had adequately conveyed the message that there was more to come, he felt sure from her response. He let her wonder for a moment, then he unlocked her legs and tugged her upright, watching her pull the hem of her T-shirt down to cover the front juncture of her round little thighs before she shifted her attention to her scalded skin. Standing, he grasped her wrists and anchored them at her sides.
“No rubbing. Certainly not before we’re through. And not for a while after that. You need to feel every single twinge until you’re determined not to ever need to feel it again. Now, little girl, we’re going to deal with your attitude the rest of the day. Would you like to describe it for me?”
She sniffed and shook her head, eyes toward the floor, hands fisted where he held them so close and yet so far away from offering relief.
“Then I’ll do the honors from my perspective. You may certainly tell me if I’m in error, but I warn you to do it respectfully, and I suspect you may pay a bit more heed to that warning now than when your little rosy bare bottom was lily white and protected. You have been deliberately rude. You have operated on the level of a six-year-old, rather than a grown woman. Plus, you have done your best to twist every effort to assist you into some kind of assault against you. In short, you have behaved abominably, and even your sore hand is not sufficient cause for that. Especially not when the injury was your fault. Agreed?”
“I guess,” she whispered in a tiny voice, wincing as she considered just how her self-pitying attitude had played out.
“Then I’m sure you’ll agree that you deserve what’s coming. So let’s get it over with.” He let go her arms and grasped her shoulders again, moving her forward in a half circle until she was standing behind the chair. “Bend over,” he said ominously. “Hands on the seat, and don’t make the mistake of reaching back or standing up until I tell you to.”
She turned to him and opened her mouth to protest, but then she snapped her chin upward and hid her face between her outstretched arms. She moaned at the sound of his wide leather belt schwicking out of the loops and bent her knees in a vain effort to protect what she knew would be his target.
“Straighten your legs and get your heinie up,” he ordered, calmly doubling the length of supple leather and grasping the buckle and tongue in his right palm. “It’s up to you how many licks this takes. Penitence wins you good girl points. Resistance runs up your naughty tab. Do you understand me?”
Her voice held a sob when she answered, “Yes,” and then added a quivery, “sir.”
He stretched the doubled length of leather with a menacing little pop, considering whether she was ready for this next step, and then rested his right hand against the small of her back where it curved over the low chair. Her back tensed when the strip of cool leather caressed her stinging nether cheeks. The dark divide narrowed as she tried to draw into herself, but then, little by little, she not only relaxed beneath his hand but managed to dip her abdomen more into the cushioned back of the furniture so that her bottom reached toward his belt. It was a reaction he knew would not last when she tasted the leather’s hot flavor, but it confirmed that he had judged her needs accurately.
He smiled and withdrew his hand, taking with it the tender touch of the belt. In its place, he ran a warm palm across the summit of each cheek and then placed his left hand, fingers splayed, across her bent spine, tightened his jaw again, and swept his arm back and up, and then down and across, to kiss her deserving flesh.
Her knees buckled as she gasped and jerked her head up, but she held her place. He stroked her again with the strap's lashing length.
He had painted six scarlet stripes across an already deep pink landscape before she began to cry, ten before she begged him to stop. An even dozen brought on short, sharp expressions of her agony and impressive twists of the area he was targeting, accented with knee bends and the lifting of first one foot and then the other.
“It hurts,” she moaned.
“Then it’s doing what I meant for it to.”
“B-but I’m s-sorry.”
“Good to know.”
“Stop! Pl-pl-please.” She wailed, trying desperately to turn the target away from him.
He let the belt lie against her swollen rounds for a moment.
“If you’re truly sorry, hold your little bottom still and ask me for the rest of what you deserve. One at a time.”
She considered for a moment, her body trembling with suppressed sobs beneath his left hand.
“How m-many?” she asked, pitifully.
“That remains to be seen. Ask until I tell you we’re through.”
He granted her another full minute of silence before he felt her push her spine a little deeper into the chair, raising her bottom into prime spanking territory once again.
“Please spank my b-bottom, sir,” she whimpered.
He grinned, his suspicion confirmed that she had probably run that phrase — a staple punitive exercise in at least three-quarters of the spanking novels ever written — through her imagination with longing dozens of times before, so that she knew precisely what to say. But rehearsing it with no chance of response and repeating it after one experience with reality were two very different things. Andee expressed her surprise at the difference with a very long and pitiful wail when he obliged her.
He required her vocal cooperation five more times and rewarded her efforts with the sharpest licks yet before he dropped the belt over the arm of the chair, saying quietly as he gently stroked her flaming orbs, “That’s enough, sweet girl. That’s quite enough.”
She pushed up and flung herself toward him, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her head in his chest. “I’m s-sorry. I’m s-so sorry,” she quavered.
“It’s all right now, sweetheart. Sh-h-h-h, baby. You’re my good girl now, aren’t you? You took your spanking well. I’m proud of you. Here, let’s pull your panties up, but go ahead and kick those jeans off. I don’t think you’ll want to go through what it will take to get them back in place.”
When he had eased the nylon gently back over her blistered bottom, she managed to free her feet from the confines of the denim and slide the jeans away. Then he picked her up and took the steps necessary to fit her on his lap as he sank down on the futon, her bottom scooted back from direct contact with his thighs. He cradled her head against his shoulder and supported her back with his strong left arm, while he reached across her body and patted her backside soothingly.
Mr. Benjamin hummed a little song near her ear, and she felt safer and more content than she could ever remember feeling in her life.
Pick this one up, folks. it's a heart-felt romance and very well written. You will not be disappointed. I only hope we'll have much more to come from Ms. Kenzie.
Art by Paula Russell