Both Ends of the Whip

by Brenda Murphy

Octavia Vargus had everything she wanted at Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive pleasure house, except the one thing she craved.  Longing for the freedom to explore both sides of her nature she leaves Rowan House and her mistress, for a new start in Italy with her partner Bridget Murray.

Vivian Abiola is a connection to a past Octavia would like to forget, and a love she never expected to see again. After Octavia’s past relationship with Vivian is exposed, Octavia and Bridget explore the limits of their desires with Vivian.  When an arsonist threatens to destroy the vineyard, past loyalties and secrets endanger their lives, and the three women’s relationship. Will their love survive the firestorm of doubt, intrigue, and jealousy?

 

Excerpt:

Viviansat behind Martha’s desk. She wore a fitted dress that hugged her slim frame. The low-cut neckline displayed her modest cleavage, and the lilac color set off her amber eyes. She wore her hair close-cropped and natural. A touch of silver shone on some of the curls. Octavia tilted her head, studying her face. The nagging feeling of knowing her was back. Vivian’s skin was only a shade darker than Octavia’s, her features suggesting a complicated heritage. She met Octavia’s gaze with a cool look, and Octavia shivered as Vivian raked her eyes over her frame. Should have changed my clothes, maybe dressed up. Left my hair loose. Where do I know her from?

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Bridget was at her side. Her hands were clasped in front of her waist. She was dressed in her starched and pressed chef’s jacket. It gleamed white in stark contrast to Octavia’s outfit of faded jeans and gray T-shirt. The vine tattoos winding around Octavia’s forearms stood out against her dark skin. She sensed Vivian’s gaze lingering on her tattoos. Does she like them? Hate them? I should have put on a long-sleeve shirt. What the hell? Why do I care what she thinks of me? She clasped her hands behind her back and squared her shoulders, setting her feet wide. Her gaze was drawn to the thin gold chain with a tiny gold Magen David centered in the hollow of Vivian’s throat. Lyceum? It can’t be. How the hell could she be here?

Bridget spoke first. “We accept your offer.”

Vivian sat back from the desk. “You’re both sure?”

“Yes.” Octavia pushed the wisp of hair that had worked loose from her braid out of her eyes. “We’ve read through the specifics.”

Vivian lifted her chin, her gaze steady. “I have the contracts here. They are for six months. That should be enough time for all of us to decide if the arrangement is acceptable.” She lifted an elegant black fountain pen from the desk and uncapped it. With a flowing hand she signed her name to each document. She held the pen out, and Octavia walked to the desk. Her fingers brushed against Vivian’s as she took the pen, and a tingle of desire worked its way to her core. Octavia signed her name on the contract. Damn. Get it together. This is trouble. So much trouble. When she was finished, she laid the pen on the desk and she glanced up into Vivian’s intense gaze. The tingle turned into a strong wave of heat. Looking away from Vivian’s eyes, she stepped back.

COLLAPSE
Reviews: April on The Lesbian Review wrote:

Both Ends Of The Whip by Brenda Murphy is a story about accepting who you are, learning the delicate art of giving and receiving love and expressing your sexual desires without shame.

Octavia really wants to be free to explore both sides of her sexual nature—her dominant and submissive sides. She knows she will never be able to fully explore her desires if she remains employed at an elite house of pleasure by the name of Rowan House. Octavia decides to cut ties with her mistress and leave all that she holds dear at Rowan house. She accepts a job opportunity with the hope that she could build a new life in Italy with her lover Bridget.

Vivian is a blast from Octavia’s past and she never thought that she would ever see her again. The passage of time, tragic experiences and heart numbing loss have separated both women. Vivian, Octavia and Bridget bared their souls by sharing the things that would have broken them because they wanted to move on with their lives and enjoy the sizzling intimacy brewing between them. Their budding relationship and their home is being threatened by an unknown arsonist. Who is behind the vicious arson attacks on Vivian’s property? Will their love be able to survive under the weight of an unknown enemy, jealousy, insecurity and fear for their lives?

The Characters
Octavia was a sex worker and stable manager at Rowan House. She moves on to become a stable manager at Vivian’s estate in Italy. She is not ashamed of who she is or the choices she has made and she does not shy away from expressing her desires. I really admire Octavia’s resilience because she endured a horrific event in her childhood and she will do whatever it takes to keep her past from destroying her present and future happiness. Octavia’s vulnerability endeared her to me because she exudes confidence and control but underneath it all she is so emotional and I just feel like giving her a big hug.

Bridget was a cook at Rowan House and she left her position there to have a fresh start in Italy with Octavia. She holds the title of cook/secretary at Vivian’s home. She is a feisty, fun-loving and affectionate woman. I just love Bridget’s single-minded focus— she knows what she wants and she is not afraid to ask for it or go after the one she desires.

Vivian owns a vineyard and a stable in Italy. She has been scarred by past events and she decides to keep everyone at arm’s length. Vivian is the epitome of a dominance and sensuality (I swooned many times while I was reading this story!)

The Writing Style
I just loved the way the author portrayed these complex and amazing women. The BDSM scenes were realistic, passionate and well written coupled with heartwarming aftercare moments. I also enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the Scottish and Italian landscapes.

The Pros
Who could say no to loving a book with gorgeous women who create delicious culinary delights and the lovely women who enjoy these hearty meals? (I happen to love enthralling women and delicious food in equal measure!)

The Cons
I have no complaints because I loved every word of this story.

The Conclusion
This story transported me to a world of exquisite and seductive delights! Don’t try to read this book in a public place because you are going to end up sporting flushed cheeks. Trust me, you’ll want to clear your calendar and set aside a day or a two so that you will have hours upon hours to devour this captivating story. I just love the way these beguiling women portrayed their strengths and weaknesses and I could definitely relate to some of their insecurities. If you enjoy erotic BDSM romances coupled with a few devious characters lurking in the background, then this is certainly the story for you!


About the Author

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted .  She guest blogs on Queeromance Ink.


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