Book Review: Best Bondage Erotica 2012

Before the internet streamed hardcore porn and you could see softcore-esque ads for clothing on the subway, readers earned their sexual stripes by devouring erotica about their favourite fantasies. Erotica sometimes suffers from the same flavour of cheesiness as pornos starring pizza delivery men – the word “manhood” comes up a lot – but well-written erotic literature is the perfect blend of fantasy and voyeurism, an invention that straddles the line between porn’s fleshy displays and a dirty thoughts from your own imagination.

In Best Bondage Erotica 2012, editor Rachel Kramer Bussel has assembled an excellent selection of bondage-themed erotic literature. As she says in her introduction, “You’ll find a range of stories from playful to perverse that I hope will give you some new ideas to try out — in your mind and beyond.” A wide variety of bondage styles are showcased, from heavy chains to characters who can be silenced with only a stern gaze. All genders and sexualities are represented, leaving the collection feeling diverse but still focused on erotic bondage. Many in this edition feature women topping men, a trend that Bussel can’t explain, but offers, as she says, “a wide range of ingenuity.”

For example, “A Night at the Opera” is Elizabeth Coldwell’s love note to both convert hall arias and opera bondage gloves, which hold the wearer’s arms and hands together and steals their ability to do much of anything: “The leather would be butter soft, [and] once they were in place, the submissive would be incapable of removing them unaided.” The gloves, and a stern tone of voice, allow Francesca to restrain her delighted, submissive husband in a public display of domination. Coldwell gives us an intriguing glance at cuckolding, dominance, public sex, and a husband’s talented tongue.

Kathleen Tudor’s “Knot Alone” shows us one woman’s coping strategy for her lack of dom – she simply takes matters into her own hands, tying herself in a thorough display of self-bondage. It’s an exquisitely sensual act, one that celebrate submission even as the author refuses to settle for an imperfect master: “I meet my own eyes in the mirror, my gaze sensual and sexual and proud as I reach back to unzip my gown.” It’s foreplay for one, followed by one hundred feet of amethyst rope.

In Elizabeth Silver’s “Laced,” Kevin asks his roommate Stefan to help him out with a work-required “goth bartender” corset, a simple request that becomes unexpectedly complicated. “It should scare the hell out me, and it does, but at the same time, it feels so goddamn good to let go of it all,” Kevin thinks as Stefan tightens the laces around him, and the two men are electrified by the ensuing bondage, the hug of Kevin’s corset and the warmth of the other’s breath. The boys have great queer fun, shot through with the relief of finally filling in a friend on your secret, and having them embrace it – and you.

Like all erotica collections, these stories will provoke a range of reactions – some will leave you breathlessly wanting more, while others won’t quite get your motor running. Not to worry, as there are almost two dozen short fictions to take in, and every one of them is erotic, thought-provoking and hopelessly kinky. There are unexpected and innovative bondage scenes, like in Bussel’s “The Weight, ” where a petite woman is immobilized by her large lover’s body as he lies atop her, and Helen Sedgwick’s “Cumana,” in which a wedding attendant is hooded by the fabric of her own voluminous dress. The stories in this collection balance the swirling apprehension, arousal and curiosity about one’s own limits that makes BDSM so thrilling and sexy. The creativity of each plotline is also backed by clean, descriptive prose. Bussel clearly has no use for the flowery writing that weakens other erotica, and these selections are full of delightfully human characters who talk, think, and have sex like real people.

For kinksters who are new to erotica, or simply just want a new collection to peruse for ideas and stimulation, Best Bondage Erotica 2012 is a handy way of exploring fantasy and sexuality through literature. Use it to brainstorm new ideas, provoke conversations with your partners, or simply read it as a bedtime story that will do anything but put you to sleep. Your mind can paint a picture of submission, one sketched by the writers in this collection and fleshed out fully by the reader – you.

Kaitlyn Kochany

Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer who has written about issues as diverse as cycling in the winter, how to successfully open a bar, and dating as a single parent. She loves taking baths, drinking Coke Zero, and rechargeable vibrators. She has been writing about sex and sexuality since 2012. Visit her website at kaitlynkochany.com.

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3 Responses

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  2. Sheh Rabbani says:

    It’s an exquisitely sensual act, one that celebrate submission even as the author refuses to settle for an imperfect master: “I meet my own eyes in the mirror, my gaze sensual and sexual and proud as I reach back to unzip my gown.

  1. 03/29/2013

    [...] Good Vibes blog features a review of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology Best Bondage Erotica 2012. The review mentions that [...]