Book Review: Best Bondage Erotica 2013

Last month, we looked at Cleis Press’s Best Bondage Erotica 2012, an assortment of devilishly deviant stories devoted to the year’s best tightly bound erotica. This month, we’re back with a fresh batch of stories to stimulate and inspire. Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and with a foreword by Graydancer, Best Bondage Erotica 2013 stretches our imaginations to dirty new heights. Grab the rope and round up your partners — we’re fit to be tied.

This year’s collection features many stories about long-standing relationships. Characters use bondage to deepen their connections, or to reaffirm partnerships that might otherwise have soured. It’s a not-exactly-PG reminder of the importance of sexuality in long-term couplings, and how making time to play and explore each other — and to try new things! – can mean fireworks in place of apathy. The stories featuring couples who used bondage to fight off their encroaching emotional distance were especially great: Mina Murray’s achingly hot “Lights Out” is half love story, half war zone, all sex, while “Steadfast” by Andrea Dale shows how an unexpected flip in power can bring one partner back from the brink.

There are also several great stories about sex in the great outdoors. Follow city girl Navina and eco-lawyer Riley as they, um, “hike,” and put Riley’s bungee ropes to the test, in Giselle Renard’s “Tree Hugger.” “Between Riley and the tree, she felt sandwiched by two magnificent lovers, and she knew that was strange and she didn’t care,” writes Renard, as Navina is tied to an old-growth tree and made to appreciate nature as she never has before. Hikers in Teresa Noelle Robert’s “The Great Outdoors” narrowly avoid been found out by a group of mountaineers, and farmhands and handjobs come together in Danielle Mignon’s “Wheelbarrow Position.” If the writing in this book is any indication, you might want to consider including Mother Nature in your bondage games this year. Reading the earthy pleasures of these stories, you can almost hear the birds singing.

And, as always, there’s just some terrific fantasy in this collection as well. Ever considered being tied up and debased by anonymous strangers under the watchful eye of a benevolent-yet-pervy gay professor? Read Valerie Alexander’s “The Moons of Mars.” If you’d like a peek into the world of fetish balls, check out  Evan Mora’s “You Can Look,” a sensual love letter to black leather and clothespins. Does the idea of chastity belts and waiting a whole month for an orgasm – or forcing your partner to wait – stokes your fire? “It’s now been twenty-one days since Brian had an orgasm. He’s never been hornier in his life, and Natasha knows it. For about a week now, all she has had to do is toy with the key as it hangs from a chain around her neck, and Brian starts to whimper as his dick gets hard.” For more, turn to N.T. Morley’s terrific read “Seven More Days.” These stories are hot, well-written, and designed to make you flush and turn you on. 

Two small complaints: first is that the cover model’s messy bonds don’t reflect the thoughtful and thought-provoking stories contained within the book. Second, Best Bondage Erotica 2013 contains only a handful of queer or trans character and scenes – the vast majority of stories are about heterosexual couples. Cleis Press offers a wide selection of bondage titles for all kinds of readers, but it would be nice to have more diversity in this volume. As it is, the bondage in this book is inventive and will inspire readers of all stripes. As Graydancer writes in his foreword, “When a knot tightens, a buckle latches, it is a connection of trust and consent at a base level. Before you could. Now, you cannot.” Thanks to Best Bondage Erotica 2013, now we all can.

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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