Story Rating: 4 out of 5 paddles
Sting factor (kink): 3 out of 5
The Ties That Bind is a 63,000 word novel by Constance Munday. Unlike most BDSM romances on the market today, this book involves realistic characters, settings and plot. There are no billionaires, secret mansion retreats or flying off to Paris for the weekend.
The story is the first person account of Penny Farthing, a not so average girl next door, who is about to marry a staid fellow named Laurence and is not entirely happy about it. Laurence does not seem to have a last name and functions mainly as the foil of the story. Everything the love interest, Nicholas Frisk, does, is and wants to do with Penny will be compared to Laurence and his proclivities, ad nauseam.
The story plot line is a classic book ends flashback. First we meet Penny and learn that she and Nichola’s relationship is in jeopardy and, also, that a certain diary with compromising details of their affair has gone missing.
Then the story flashes back through Penny’s history with Nicholas.
Nicholas enters Penny’s life by accident when she is struck by a bicycle on the street. Nicholas picks her up and takes her to lunch. His aggressive attitude towards Penny are both enticing and frightening. She finds herself complying with his wishes more often than not. They spend two hours together even though Penny was supposed to be at a fitting for her wedding gown.
Penny’s sexual awakening at the hands of Nicholas proceeds apace. Unfortunately, many of the promises made by the title of the work and some of Penny’s early fantasies go unfulfilled. Koko the Shibari Master, or anyone like him, never makes an appearance. This is a very blatant violation of “Checkhov’s gun.” (Readers can learn about this important writing device here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGun )
There is a lot of mildly kinky sex in the second half of the novel. The story eventually works its way back to the present and the resolution of the crisis of the plot.
This reviewer applauds the author’s attempt at a realistic BDSM romance set in our time. She even mentions 50 Shades of Gray, which actually plays a part in the plot of the story. It all could happen. The name of the main character does sound a bit like a send up however and detracts. The pluses of the novel do outweigh the negatives and the reader can look forward to a nice read.
Reviewed by Teddy