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The New Ties That Bind

2021 (IntrigueVerse)

Claire, a freshman at a nameless college, is enrolled in a "Sensual Imagery in Art" class. Plain, shy, and unassuming on a campus that seems more interested in getting drunk at frat parties than playing Dungeons & Dragons (one of her preferred activities), the teacher gives an assignment that will change her in unexpected ways. Claire is partnered with a classmate for an assignment on BDSM imagery.

A straight-A student, Claire is initially unimpressed with the aloof and enigmatic Paul, a hoodie-wearing slacker constantly doodling in class. Will she have to do the bulk of the work on their assignment, so that her GPA isn´t threatened? Beginning with their first meeting at the library, however, Claire discovers there is far more to Paul than she initially thought. And then, when she meets him later at his dorm room, she discovers places within herself that she had never known before.

Writer Hardison Parker has also published the erotic novel Cara Awakened, as well as the four-part e-book series The Pandemic Passions. This first installment of his latest series, Bound For Her Art, explores sexual bondage generally, and in particular the contemporary Japanese art of shibari, in which someone willingly allows their body to be intricately tied and bound in coils of rope (or, in the case of these characters, hemp).

Parker´s narrative pacing is patient, and he provides detailed and believable specifics before entering into the sex. The story allows the reader to get to know these characters as more than stand-ins, and his portrayal of Claire in particular is wonderful. As her newfound interest in shibari unfolds, Parker is effective at allowing the attraction and suspense between them to grow. Paul appears to be a knowledgeable guide into this previously-taboo world, and Claire proves herself a more-than-willing subject.

After agreeing on a safe-word, the pair consummate their desires through the elaborate binding of consensual restraints, role-play, and sex. There is definitely greater emphasis on the former, as the bulk of the sexual experience is through the tying of Claire, more than their pleasure from oral or vaginal intercourse. Perhaps this will be a turn-off for some readers, but will also more than likely be welcome to those aroused by shibari and other kinds of bondage.

Parker concludes Bound For Her Art somewhat abruptly, but leaves ample opportunity for Claire and Paul (and others?) to continue their adventures in future editions of the series. I look forward to seeing what entanglements Claire gets up to as she gets deeper into her studies.

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