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Eden Bradley talks about her research for The Beauty of Surrender

Eden Bradley

Please welcome one of my favorite authors, Eden Bradley. Eden is an auto buy & must read author for me. I absolutel love her work. Eden writes erotica and erotica romances for Samhain Publishing, Harlequin Spice, Berkley Heat, Bantam Publishing, and Phaze Publishing.

I am extremely exited that she is her today to talk about her new release THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER.

You can find her at http://www.edenbradley.com/ and her group blog http://www.smutketeers.com/ and on facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/people/Eden-Bradley/785247459.

The BeautyofSurrender-cover

Shibari…The ancient art of erotic restraint…Its finely-knotted ropes are a turn-on, a sexual experience…and for some, an absolute necessity…

Serving the Master: Desmond and Ava

At a San Francisco sex club called Pinnacle, Ava Gregory seeks something she cannot quite describe. But of one thing she is certain: the moments when feels her most beautiful and complete are when she is tightly restrained in the Shibari ropes. At Pinnacle, she’s paired with a master: Desmond Hale, who thrives on control… But something surprising happens when Desmond binds Ava’s willing body and takes her to the edge of ecstasy. And now, the two are taking their relationship out of the shadows of the club, sharing secrets unleashed and bodies unbound…

Soothing the Beast: Marina and James

An art dealer and Shibari master, Marina has never hesitated to dominate anyone. Until she meets James, a dark, gorgeous, towering journalist who’s survived horrors around the world. James confesses that submission is the only way to clear his troubled mind, but Marina is instantly overwhelmed by his strength and magnetism. To share the pleasures of bondage, something must change between them. When it does, it will come with an explosion of unexpected pleasure—and a relationship that neither could have ever have imagined…

My latest book from Bantam/Delta, THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, was just released, and Greta has been kind enough to have me here to help celebrate! This is a two-part story based on Shibari, the ancient art of Japanese rope bondage. Shibari is complex, beautiful, and sensual. And for those who love the power play involved in rope bondage, it’s a way to bring tying someone up to an entirely new level, because Shibari makes bondage art.

Here in the U.S. it’s often called Western Web, but it is still based on the ancient practice of Shibari. shibari was actually used originally as a sort of torture on prisoners in Japan. Binding harnesses were tied in such a way that the knots hit certain nerve points in order to inflict pain. In the shibari I’ve seen used for bondage/BDSM play, the knots are sometimes placed at certain points to inflict pleasure-a much better way to go about it, IMO! There seems to be a common thread among those I’ve met and those I’ve read about in my research who use shibari as part of their sensual play, several components that are the main goals: aesthetics, restraint, and emotional response.

For those interested in this sort of experience, the aesthetics are crucial. For the ‘top’ (the dominant, or the person doing the tying up), the patterns of the rope can be either very simple and primal, or ornate and complicated. Symmetry can be important to the overall look, as well as in keeping the bottom (the submissive, or the person being bound) from experiencing circulation difficulties. For the bottom, the experience of being decorated in this way can be powerful in itself. Of course, the physical and emotional sensation of being restrained is often important to the bottom. There is a sort of helplessness in being bound that can allow them to give themselves over to the experience, to let go their inhibitions, to give themselves permission to do things they might not otherwise be able to do, no matter how badly they want to.

In THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, James, my hero in Part Two, ‘Soothing the Beast’, has been through some truly horrible experiences in his career as an international news journalist. He’s seen things that have horrified him, things he can’t get out of his head. Things he can’t face, including his anger over what he’s witnessed. Only when he allows Marina to bind him can he let go enough to allow himself to feel his rage at the world. He needs that sense of safety, of containment. And it’s only then that he can finally be free. He opens up to himself, to Marina, and when she lets him out of the ropes, they trust each other enough for him to shift that primal energy into something sexual and powerful.

Not everyone has such an extreme need for restraint. For many it’s simply a fun and erotic experience, but there are always emotional responses involved. There are reasons why people seek out extreme forms of sensual play, and those reasons can vary from one individual to another. In Part One of THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, ‘Serving the Master’, Ava, a true submissive, simply loves to be dominated, loves the symbols involved in being bound. Her needs are more elementary and more sexually-based. There is an emotional process for her in the book, as well, but it’s more closely tied (pun intended!) to the intense connection she feels with Desmond, the dominant rope master she meets, and how the relationship helps her to work through some archaic issues. Ava says in the book:

“I want…to become lost in the ritual of it. In the placement of the ropes. In the act of being bound…I’m looking for release. But we all are, aren’t we? Bottoms? Sexual submissives?” She shook her head. “It’s more than that, though. That part is easy enough. I want…more. I want…perfection. And to be perfect, which are two different things.”

Research for this book was fascinating! I studied Midori’s ‘The Seductive Art of Japanese Rope Bondage’ extensively, as well as ‘Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macrame’ (I love the title!) by Bridgett Harrington. Both explore the dynamics behind erotic restraint and have gorgeous photography. I also searched YouTube for the Two Knotty Boys videos, which are wonderful step-by-step lessons in knotwork. I’ve done other sorts of research, but maybe I’ll keep some of that to myself…*G*

I’ve also talked to a number of erotica authors about shibari and other forms of rope bondage, and had some fascinating responses!

~Author Sasha White has written a lot of stories with some element of power play, and she wrote about shibari in her book, SEX AS A WEAPON. Sasha says: ‘Often using more than one length of rope to bind, Shibari is more than just aesthetically pleasing. The bottom, or submissive, is immobilized, and often gets pleasure just from the placement and pressure of the ropes.’

She also has some wonderful research links on her website for anyone interested in finding out more.

~Author Kelly Jamieson has an upcoming book with Ellora’s Cave about shibari, and had this to say: “I was intrigued by how it is a journey of self discovery for both top and bottom. The trust there must be between both. Also that the ropes placed in just the right spots can give incredible pleasure. Also intrigued by the sensuality of it – the artistry (my hero is a photographer) the smell of the hemp, the embrace of the ropes. The preparation, planning and anticipation is like prolonged foreplay and it takes women to incredible heights of pleasure.”

~Author Fae Sutherland writes hot erotica with co-author Margeurite Labbe. She says:

My favorite quote is from the Dom in out story MAXIMUM EXPOSURE, a part of Dreamspinner Press’s Games In The Dark anthology. Sebastian, the Dom has Angel, the sub, in the ropes and is standing back silently admiring him and Angel asks him what the point of it is, if he’s just going to look at him (it’s Angel’s first experience with bondage of any kind). Sebastian answers:

“Because Shibari isn’t about restraining you so I can use your body, beautiful though it is. It’s visual. It’s erotic. It’s about turning an already gorgeous man into a breath-taking work of art.” Sebastian reached out his free hand and ran his fingertips down the smooth line of Angel’s taut thigh, down to where the rope bound him. “Orgasm isn’t the goal. Arousal is.”

~Author Kate Pearce wrote about shibari in her book SIMPLY WICKED. She says about shibari:

“I first became fascinated by shibari when I read a post about it from a fellow author on the now defunct Lust Bites blog. I decided I had to get it into one of my novels. I found the perfect character, Captain David Gray in a seafaring naval officer who had traveled the world and visited some interesting spots-and learned some interesting sexual techniques.
Here’s a small excerpt from SIMPLY WICKED when David is showing the main character, Anthony Sokorvsky that sexual pleasure does not have to be ‘tied up’ with pain.”

David took a black silk bag out of the chest and brought it across to Anthony. He slowly untied the silk cords and tipped the contents into his hand.

“This is shibari rope. It can be made of hemp or jute, or in this case, fine linen.” David stroked the carefully tied skein. “I had it dyed red because I like the contrast against white skin. Each rope is about twenty-three feet long. That’s the traditional length, I’m not sure why.”

Anthony stared at the thin red linen, imagined it wrapped around his body and licked his lips.

David smiled. “The aim, I’m told, is not to use any knots. Unfortunately I’m not an expert, so I might need to use one or two. Are you ready?”

The sudden question made Anthony look up from his fascinated contemplation of the rope into David’s calm blue eyes. He swallowed hard.


“Good. Will you put your hands behind the back of the chair?”

Anthony almost wanted to close his eyes as David knelt in front of him and brought both ends of the rope from under the seat. He positioned Anthony’s knees and ankles against the cold wood of the chair legs and wrapped the linen around his knees, holding them in place. With a practiced motion, he brought the ropes over Anthony’s knees and started cross-binding his thighs to the seat.

Anthony flexed his thigh muscles, and realized the linen wasn’t tight at all. David touched his hip.

“Think of it as like a corset. You have to be completely laced up before you tighten the strings.”

“Ah, that helps,” Anthony muttered. “I’ve always wondered what it felt like to wear a corset.”


I think this is a good example of how shibari might work from a practical standpoint. Here’s an excerpt from Part One of my own book, THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, ‘Serving the Master’, to give a different viewpoint:

She waited. Breathless. Dizzy with need, anticipation.

Then that familiar whisper of rope smoothing over rope, and in a moment he was back in front of her, taking her hands from her back, leading her forward.

“We begin now, Ava.”

Her body was loose all over, pliant, as he placed her in the center of the wooden frame. Her mind was absolutely emptying out.


It was only him. Desmond, the ropes, the sensations assaulting her body even before the first rope touched her.

And when it did, she shook, hard, her muscles tensing, then releasing, her sex filling, going wet. And Desmond working so silently as he pulled that first loop around her waist.

He leaned in and asked her, “Do you know anything of Taoist philosophy?”

“No, Desmond,” she whispered.

“I’ll tell you, then, although I’m going to have you read more about it later.” He wound the loop across her back, around the front of her body, crossed the rope over itself; she could feel the motion against her skin like cool silk. But firmer. Lovely. “The main concept, as it seems to me, anyway, is to learn to cease the inherent human struggle against the inevitable. To let go. When I first read of this, it immediately translated into what we do in this lifestyle. Do you see where I’m going with this, Ava?”

“I…I think so. Yes. You mean to give myself over to you. To the process. To yield.”

“Yes, exactly,” he went on, his voice quiet, soothing. “Because the freedom you’re seeking lies within that act of submission. Of total submission. I don’t mean it in the sense of complete slave mentality; that sort of thing doesn’t interest me. When you are not in the ropes I want to be able to have an intelligent conversation with you. I want you to be a thinking, functioning, individual being, not some mindless piece of furniture. But now…when you are under my hand, you must learn not to struggle against what is happening, what you yourself have asked for, what you desire. And what I desire, if that makes it easier for you. This is what you and I will work on together. And we will utilize some tools to get you there. We’re going to start with some meditative breathing. If you’ve done yoga before you may be familiar with this kind of practice. But I want you to put all of that out of your mind. Focus only on my voice. On what the ropes make you feel.”

Oh, she could do that easily enough. Nothing else existed for her already.

“Breathe in, Ava,” he said. “In through your mouth, into your diaphragm, then push the air down into your stomach. Good. Now let it out slowly. And as you do, focus. My voice. Your breath. The ropes.”

She felt the silken pull of the rope against her skin as he wound another length of it over her shoulders, beginning what she knew would be a body harness of some sort. And she let herself sink into the ropes, into the brushing of his fingertips, his knuckles, against her skin as he worked.

If only he would really touch me…

But she was getting ahead of herself.

Focus. Breathe.

Yes, just let herself sink in, give it all over…

“Another deep breath, Ava. Take your time, slowly…yes, that’s it. And again. My voice. Your breath. The ropes.”


So, while it’s all about the ropes, it’s also very much about that psychological process each person involved goes through-and this is true even if all you’re doing is a little bedroom play with silk scarves. It’s different for everyone, which is part of the beauty of it, and why writing about bondage, in any of its myriad forms, is always interesting to me.

What about bondage interests you? What about it seems frightening? And can the desire and the fear co-exist? I think it absolutely can, but I’d love to know what you think. And anyone who posts here today is eligible to win a copy of my latest e-book from Samhain, THE SEEKING KISS! This is my hot, erotic urban fantasy-the first vampire fiction I’ve written in over twenty years, and it just came out on October 20th. You can read about it on my website, or on the Samhain publishing site: http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/the-seeking-kiss

I hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of insight into the art of erotic restraint. For more information about my latest book, THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, any of my other published work, and news about upcoming books, please visit my website: http://www.edenbradley.com/ . You can also keep up on my latest news, appearances and other events, as well as author interviews and contests, by visiting my group blog, http://www.smutketeers.com/ !


19 Responses

  1. Eden, congratulations on the release of BEAUTY OF SURRENDER. I enjoy reading erotica but admit I have only read stories with light BDSM, and none on shibari. This sounds like a fascinating read and I look forward to it.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Armenia! I have several other books that are BDSM-themed,but…I wouldn’t call them light-lol! Still, you may want to give them a try. THE DARK GARDEN and THE DARKER SIDE OF PLEASURE are available through Amazon and are still on shelves at bookstores, and my story, ‘Sanctuary’, can be found in the Berkley Heat anthology, EXCLUSIVE. I also have a BDSM story, BREAKING SKYE, available at Phaze Publishing-you can find details on my website. 🙂

  3. The Beauty of Surrender sounds so good! I just recently finished The Dark Garden, and I loved it! I still need to get The Darker Side of Pleasure.

    I think that bondage interests me because you are giving up total control to someone else. And you have to have a lot of trust in them. I think that maybe giving up that control allows a person to not have to be responsible for a while. They don’t have to decide, they don’t have to do anything but what is allowed of them.

    Thanks so much!
    Amy M

  4. Hi Eden!

    Congrats on the new release!!

    Honestly, I’m on the fence with BDSM…..the light stuff I can handle. I try to really keep an open mind when it comes to books but I”ve read some that just makes me squirm! LOL

  5. Amy-so glad you enjoyed THE DARK GARDEN! That was my first full-length novel, so it holds a special place in my heart. 🙂 And yes-it’s all about trust! Maybe that’s one reason why I love to write bondage and BDSM-the trust involved makes for very intense relationships, and that’s not only fascinating to explore, but it makes for great romance!
    Blanche-an open mind is good! And the heavier stuff isn’t necessarily for everyone, which is fine-it’s good that readers have a variety of tastes or we authors would all be writing the same book. 🙂
    For me, if I’m going to write heavy BDSM, exploring the psychology behind it is crucial, so that a reader who is newer to the subject, or someone who may be a bit uncomfortable with the idea of real pain play, has some understanding of *why* anyone would want to do these things-and more importantly, how the pain truly is pleasure. Because, IMO, if you can understand that it’s not pain like going to the dentist or something, how the pain itself is a sensual and opening experience, it can remove the squick factor. And I don’t like to write the whole humiliation thing, which I know turns a lot of people off-myself included.

  6. Eden, I think that is it for me….the humiliation factor. I’ve read 2 books where that was a big part of the story and it bothered me. I can see and understand 2 consenting adults living the BDSM life in whatever capacity they wish but when it goes from control that was agreed upon to humiliation……….it makes me squirm! LOL I’ve read some really good books in that genre too so that is why I will read it!!

  7. I do not think that I have read any with the humilition involved. Not sure how I would feel about that. For sure would not be good if it was not something that all parties agreed upon. There is nothing enjoyable about that.

    I also would never want to read one where someone was cruel, but rather brought out a pleasurable experience for everyone involved.

  8. Great post! I’ve seen Shibari demonstrated twice and was amazed. I can’t imagine how much time the Dom must spend learning how to do this. Especially since I can manage to mess up the laces on my tennis shoes!

  9. This is the first I ever heard of Shibari although I have read a few BDSM ebooks. Though I myself have never tried bondage, I would say the interest is in the letting someone else be in control. Preferably someone who knows what they are doing. The fear co-exists I think because just like when you were young and trying not to get caught having sex(lol, when you werent supposed to be) its exciting thinking you are doing something wicked and different. It’s a turn on.

    Gonna have to research Shibari, sounds interesting.

  10. Blanche, you might enjoy my book, THE DARK GARDEN-no humiliation involved, and I think there’s a really solid romance there. The consensual nature is so important, IMO!
    LOL on the shoe laces, Lillie A!
    Suzette, there are some gorgeous picture books on Shibari-those I mentioned and lots more!

  11. My Borders has it in stock so I’m going to pick it up this afternoon!! Thanks Eden! I read the blurb and it looks great and the reviews are really good too!!! 🙂

  12. I love the art of Shibari ropework. I think I’d like to be bound that way just once sometime. If it happens, it would be wonderful, and if it doesn’t…I don’t mind in the least. I’ll enjoy seeing it and your book sounds great Eden. I can see I have some reading to do! *smiles*

  13. Okay-now if you don’t like it you can blame me directly-lol! But I hope you do. 🙂

  14. The extremes of bondage scenarios is what doesn’t work for me. I much prefer reading bdsm stories when it’s more about command and cherish. Pushing the boundaries, but to enhance the pleasure of the participants, with specific limits set. And since it’s all about the romance, I like a HEA to wrap things up.

  15. Hi EB,
    I never read any books with BDSM in them before until I read The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton. It was also my first introduction to shibari. I have since read more books with this topic and find it very interesting..sometimes beyond my comfort zone, but that’s one of the things I like about it. Will look for The Beauty of Surrender as it sounds like a great read. Congrats!

  16. Hi Eden, I never heard of shibari until I read this post. BDSM is always an interesting subject. Everyone has so many opinions. Congrats on your new release at Samhain. I am adding The Beauty of Surrender to the top of my next to be purchased list.

  17. CathyM-I tried to include the idea of ‘command and cherish’ in this book, as well as my other BDSM stories. I think it’s important!
    sadangel-thanks for stopping by. 🙂
    Booklover-I hope you enjoy The Beauty of Surrender!
    Janet-shibari is another form of BDSM play-there is that same giving yourself over for the bottom and control and responsibility for the top. I think the same principles for any sort of sensation play translate to bondage, as well-or they should, anyway.
    Okay-going to pick a winner and will announce in a little bit!

  18. …and the winner of a copy of my new e-book, THE SEEKING KISS, is Lillie A!
    Lillie, please contact me at: eden_bradley@yahoo.com to collect your prize! Congrats!
    And thanks to all who commented and to Greta for having me here to guest blog!

  19. Nice post! love this blog

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