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Book Review: Tangled and Bound by Emily Ryan-Davis

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When I ran across an end-cap display selling copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in a major chain grocery store last year, I realized the degree to which BDSM has been assimilated into our culture. Whatever the merits of that particular book are in terms of literary importance or accurately portraying the BDSM lifestyle, its popularity certainly has benefited the genre in general–all boats rise with the tide. Perhaps as an acknowledgement of or an homage to its pervasive influence, the opening scene in Emily Ryan-Davis’ Tangled and Bound subtly incorporates Fifty Shades of Grey into the story merely by mentioning the iconic man’s tie on the cover of a book one of the main characters is reading on a flight from New York City to Las Vegas.

Fittingly, the book she later refers to as mommy porn, becomes the gambit for a conversation between Melanie and the passenger seated next to her, Sam, a lifestyle dom who oozes self-confidence and sexuality. In true erotic novel fashion, the conversation quickly escalates to the extent that the newly acquainted travelers slip off to the plane’s restroom and join the kinky contingent of the mile high club. Unfortunately, their rendezvous is followed by awkwardness during the remainder of the flight as Sam experiences the equivalent of morning-after regret.

When the flight finally reaches its destination, instead of being able to go their separate ways, the pair discover that they are both being met by Melanie’s brother and his fiancé, whose wedding they are attending. Most of the book from there on is a sort of tortured mating dance in which Sam wrestles with his reluctance to open himself up to a free spirit wannabe submissive despite their obvious mutual attraction and lust for one another. In many respects this book seems to be a serious attempt to portray the “real” BDSM lifestyle and its protocols/ethics within an erotic format. Alas, as a result some elements of the story come off a little like “how to” lessons in proper safe, sane and consensual etiquette.

Whereas Tangled and Bound is ostensibly a work of BDSM erotica, it has surprisingly few consummated activities in that regard. The story contains more thinking and talking about and wanting to than actual doing. Also, it bears noting that while the erotic scenes are all very well done and sexy as hell, from a kink standpoint they are relatively tame. Whether or not this matters to prospective readers will largely depend upon their sensibilities.

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About Jim Lyon

Jim Lyon began writing erotica in the mid 1990s and served as story editor for the now-defunct Ownme.com before his first femdom-themed erotic novellas, Uncharted Territory and The Accidental Domme, were published as e-books by Sizzler Editions. Jim is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He left high school in his senior year to live the bohemian life in New York City's Greenwich Village and Lower East Side. Not being a big fan of cold weather and crowded tenements, Jim returned to the West Coast within six months and lived in Berkeley during the tumultuous mid to late 1960s and early 1970s. While there, his claims to fame include being folksinger Malvina Reynolds' neighbor/tenant and part owner of the Northside Theater, a repertory cinema of considerable renown. After leaving Berkeley, Jim put himself through college and earned a B.A. in Journalism from USC. His eclectic career since then has encompassed editing, writing, business management, social work, teaching, and web publishing, with stops in northern and southern California, Hawaii, Florida and Oregon.