Many thanks to Cleis Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review — and for donating a second copy to a lucky reader! You can order The Big Book of Bondage directly from Cleis Press’ product page or from other book retailers, such as Amazon.
The Big Book of Bondage is edited by the wonderfully talented Alison Tyler and contains 25 short erotic stories penned by 25 different contemporary writers. At well over 300 pages, it’s definitely a large volume — even when you consider its slightly squished format (5×7 vs. the 6×9 of a typical trade paperback). It was published in 2012 by Cleis Press, a prolific company specializing in sexual how-to’s & erotic literature of all varieties.
As both a bookworm & sex geek, I read a lot of erotica. Unfortunately, my standards are pretty high and I often run into the same two problems: horribly tacky sexual metaphors (“His rigid sword pushed its way past her moist petals and plunged deep into her castle.”) and an imbalance between variety & unity (the stories either blend together or they feel too chaotic to fit under one theme).
The Big Book of Bondage was a refreshing respite
from mediocre (and just plain bad) erotica.
Without a lot of cheesy sex slang to disrupt my reading experience, I was actually able to connect with the characters and immerse myself in the plot lines. I was able to get turned on by the fantasies that resonated with my own and appreciate the creativity of the few that just “weren’t my thing.”
Which brings me to my next point: The variety is such that no two stories in this collection are the same. “Bondage” can mean anything from simply following verbal commands to physically being bound by cuffs, ropes, even vacuum beds. Other kinks and fetishes make their way into the stories with ease. (Into exhibitionism? Pain as pleasure? Pet play? It has you covered!) Sexual acts are not limited to “the usual” oral sex or penis-in-vagina intercourse. (Fisting, figging, and anal play all make appearances; sometimes there’s surprisingly little “sex” at all.) If you’re into kink, there’s a good chance that you’ll find at least one story that reflects your own unique desires — and many more that you will be able to enjoy.
The tingling moved through her teeth, sang in her scalp, tickled the ends of her hair. She was limp and weightless, she was floating free. – Vida Bailey, Life Drawing
Thanks to the editor, Alison Tyler, there’s an inclusiveness in The Big Book of Bondage that I appreciate when it comes to the characters & their relationships. Although the majority of the stories feature heterosexual couples with a male Dominant/female submissive power exchange, there are still plenty of stories that break the monotony. Gay/lesbian characters were not forgotten or ignored. Femdom fantasies were given space to shine. And “untraditional” relationships were included in the form of group sex, open relationships, & various arrangements between play partners.
As a big believer of the fact that erotica/porn can be educational and still hot, I was also thrilled to see the occasional mention of safe sex and BDSM practices. (Condoms, safewords, checking to make sure that rope isn’t too tight, etc.) Of course there were some stories that made me cringe (anal sex without any lubricant) and others that made me very uncomfortable (a boss whose behavior I interpreted as sexual harassment instead of sexy fun time), but I understand that others’ fantasies differ from my own.
When I came, someone paused the universe. I shattered into a million little pieces and was blasted across time. – Kristina Lloyd, The Bondage Pig
Overall, I highly recommend The Big Book of Bondage if you’re into kinky erotica. It’s got some great writing talent, a variety of different characters/scenarios, and sexy descriptions that will get your heart pounding. It even offers a pretty good insight into the nature of BDSM & bondage play.
It may just be the best erotic anthology that I’ve ever read.