cover image Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1

Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Cleis, $18.95 Trade Paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-62778-291-3

Bussel (editor, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1-5) arranges a celebration of bondage in all its forms in this wide-ranging, inclusive anthology. The work is bookended by a pair of standout tales: Ria Restrepo’s “Chained” welcomes readers with a charming protagonist exploring her fantasies for the first time, and Tiffany Reisz’s “The Beguiling of Merlin: An Erotic Fantasia” leaves a lasting impression with its sexy, creative premise. The 18 stories in between are admirably eclectic but uneven. Lazuli Jones offers unexpected sweetness in a futuristic sex club in “Connection,” while Angora Shade’s “Protocol” uses its spaceship setting for zero-gravity sexcapades between unconvincing characters. Many of the authors attempt to weave education about kink into their tales in ways that run from seamless to intrusive. Bussel is the worst offender, with the narrator of her “Necessary Roughness” spending more time explaining the pleasures of his marriage than actually experiencing them. Luckily, the breadth of tone and trope is wide enough that the weaker entries cannot mar the whole. With characters of all ages, genders, and sexualities represented, the diversity of this anthology ensures that any reader with even a glancing interest in bondage will find something that piques. (Mar.)