Within erotic fiction, the genre is constantly struggling against the restrictions imposed by societal taboos. The three classic taboos in the genre are: incest, bestiality and underage relationships. There are other taboos. Non-consensual sex is a no-no. Scatological sex is unwelcomed by most publishers (certainly, as written material, I’m not sure what most publishers get up to in the privacy of their own boardrooms). Necrophilia comes under the heading of ‘illegal activities.’ The list could go on. And it does.
And I mention it here because I’ve known publishers refuse fairy tale stories because, thematically, the idea broaches dangerous territory between adult material and that aimed for a younger audience.
This is, of course, all bullshit.
It’s bullshit for several reasons. If no one ever wrote about incest we would never have had a story like Wuthering Heights. If no one touched on bestiality or necrophilia the concept behind the Twilight novels would be dead in the water. If we all adhered to the strict rule regarding non-consensual sex, it would be near-on impossible to write a BDSM story of reluctant submission.
And, when publishers have told me that ‘fairy stories are for children, and erotica is for adults,’ I have bristled with righteous indignation at the stupidity of that notion.
Historically, fairy stories are NOT for children. Fairy tales are an integral part of our history of storytelling. Stories have been in existence since before we began to learn to write or read. The oral tradition of narratives (oral, as in spoken – not oral as in the fun way) has been an integral part of our literary heritage. Camp elders would sit around tribal fires, mesmerizing audiences with stories that broached fantastic subjects and reinforced important moral and philosophical points. These were the original fairy stories and they were never intended for children.
Unfortunately, some publishers are too stupid to be aware of this distinction. Fortunately, Spice Books and Alison Tyler seem to understand that fairy tales have always been intended for adults.
Not that Alison Tyler is alone in this understanding. She’s managed to find more than two-dozen authors who share her kinky sense of fun. In Alison’s Wonderland there are twenty-seven scintillating stories of fairy-tale shenanigans to set your red shoes tapping and make you wonder what might happen if you go down to the woods today.
It should be noted here that, in excess of 100,000 words, Alison’s Wonderland is the largest collection of erotic stories that Alison Tyler has ever published. It should also be noted that this one, possibly more than any other, contains some of the most celebrated names in the world of erotic fiction.
The collection opens with Nikki Magennis’s “The Red Shoes (Redux).” Nikki Magennis is the author of Circus Excite and The New Rakes, and far too many short stories for me to list here. “The Red Shoes (Redux)” is characteristic of her style for making the commonplace uncommonly sexy, and delivering sultry, poetic prose.
This is quickly followed by Shanna Germain’s “Fools Gold”: a clever riff on the old story of “Rumpelstiltskin,” and Sommer Marsden’s witty re-imagining of a classic story with “The Three Billys.” Germain writes raw sex appeal that consistently excites and satisfies. Marsden excels at blending humour and hedonism in this contemporary revisit to classical territory. Both authors contribute to the superb quality of this collection and make it easy to brand the book as unputdownable.
The fairy queen in Portia Da Costa’s “Unveiling His Muse” reminds us that Da Costa has always had a command of short fiction despite her recent years producing novels. In “Unveiling His Muse” she combines narrative and sexual tension to an incredible erotic effect.
And, in “Managers and Mermen,” Donna George Storey (author of Amorous Woman and innumerable erotic shorts) shows that she possesses an unrivalled mastery of erotic fantasy.
This collection is a have-to-have anthology for every connoisseur of erotic fiction. The table of contents reads like a who’s who of contemporary erotic writing and the quality of the stories in unsurpassable. If you don’t already own Alison’s Wonderland, rush out and buy the book now. This is one that you’re going to treasure for a long, long time as you enjoy your happily ever afters.
It’s a real joy to read well-crafted bondage stories. There are many to choose from in The Big Book of Bondage, exploring female submission, male submission, and some same sex pairings. If you like group sex, threesomes, slut-shaming, and other kinds mixed with your bondage, you’ll find a story here for you.
One thing I enjoy so much about Sommer Marsden’s work, and in particular her story “Butter the Bird,” is how well she captures everyday life. There’s real craftsmanship going on here that it may take a writer to appreciate, but readers will enjoy how this slice of life heats up to a nicely decadent tale.
“Cute Boy gets Squeezed” by D.L. King explores the erotic potential of vacuum beds (although I can’t fathom another reason for using one). I’ve always been fascinated by them and she certainly makes it sound fun. This is a different kind of bondage than rope or handcuffs. If you like rubber or latex you’ll really like this kinky, fun tale.
I can’t think of a single Alison Tyler story I haven’t liked. She’s one of erotica’s rock and roll stars for a reason. Her “Burned” has amazing imagery and gets under your skin in a good way.
Kristina Lloyd’s “The Bondage Pig” was a little weird, but I was so fascinated I just had to see what would happen next. Then it got really interesting. Such an imagination!
Those are only a few of the worthy contributors. From Donna George Storey to Thomas Roche, many names are well-known in erotica. With twenty-five stories, this anthology is a little longer than most, but there wasn’t a single weak story.
In her introduction, Alison Tyler informs us that Bound for Trouble is the tenth bondage-themed anthology she has edited for Cleis. It's hardly surprising that this collection sparkles with kinky energy and glows with heat. Ms. Tyler definitely knows what she's doing. At this point in my editing and reviewing career, I'm fairly difficult to impress, but I believe Bound for Trouble will delight anyone who finds D/s content arousing.
What's so great about this book? Diversity for one thing. Almost every story attacks the theme from a different direction. There are M/f, F/m and F/f tales in almost equal proportion and even one M/m contribution. Some authors write about long-established couples, some about casual playmates, some about just-met strangers. Meanwhile, the bondage mechanisms explored range from classic ropes to robots to symbolic chains made out of paper.
Ms. Tyler's own story, “Sitting Pretty,” keeps the reader guessing. For the first few pages, you have no idea about the identity or even the gender of the narrator. Only at the end do you begin to understand who he is and what he wants. This tale is both beautifully crafted and deliciously transgressive. Who would have imagined that allowing one's hair to be cut could be an act of submission?
“Magic Boots” by Amy Dillon offers one of the most insightful takes on fetishism that I've encountered in a long time. To arouse and entertain her foot-worshiping husband, the narrator secretly buys a pair of expensive, outrageous high-heeled boots they've both admired. As she wears the boots around the house before revealing them to her spouse, trying to break them in, she discovers her own perceptions and desires changing.
Complementary fantasies play a key role in several of the tales. In Benjamin Eliot's exquisite “Unwinding Alice,” the female of the title enjoys being tightly bound and locked in a closet for hours. Her husband confines her in order to please her; he finds the notion far scarier than she does. Meanwhile, he lives for the sight of the rope marks her trials leave behind. Their kinks are distinctly different, but interlocking, providing satisfaction and peace to both.
She flings her arms above her head, and I see the lines on her skin flow north with the motion. She's striped and crossed and dotted with the evidence of my control and I groan. Because seeing that evidence robs me of my current control. I'm powerless against the unwound Alice. I'm humbled by her strength.
The healing potential of dominance and submission is another common theme. Annabeth Leong's “Paper Chains,” Theresa Noelle Roberts' “Ropenosis,” K.Lynn's “Business Wear,” all feature submissives wound tight by worldly responsibilities or hidden fears. Paradoxically, bondage sets them free.
Sommer Marsden's brilliant story “What She Has” struck me as one of the most realistic in the collection. The subtleties she portrays in the relationship between the submissive narrator and her Master, the ebb and flow of envy, anger, fear and love, amazed me. How can love and cruelty be so closely intertwined?
In contrast, Giselle Renarde's delicious fable “It's Not a Scrunchie” is pure play, a man's wildest fantasy made manifest in the person of a voluptuous, uninhibited gal who just happens to like tying guys up.
The mood in Bound for Trouble is lighter than in some of Ms. Tyler's anthologies (her Love at First Sting comes to mind as an example of darker, more ambiguous BDSM), but these authors don't spare the rope or the rod. Nearly all of the stories are entertaining. And a few will linger in your mind, long after you've closed the cover or turned off your e-reader.