Bondage in Romance?
Why would anyone
want to be tied to a bed? Why would anyone want to surrender control
over an aspect of her life as important as sex?
For some of us,
bondage and submission are regular parts of our sex lives. Others
of us use this kind of play only occasionally, as the variety that makes
up the spice of life. Still others don't actually engage in bondage
but like to read and fantasize about submitting to an irresistible lover.
I find that there are a couple of reasons gentle bondage can make for an
enticing and sensual read.
Women of my generation
– and I suspect of today’s generation as well – were taught that wanting
and enjoying sex were unladylike. We were expected to be demure and
coy, pretending to resist no matter how much we secretly desired contact.
By surrendering responsibility for lovemaking, we can free ourselves from
the restrictive myths of female asexuality. We can protest our dismay
– even struggle against our bonds – while allowing ourselves to be pleasured
by a lover who knows all our secret desires.
In general, women
are expected to display competence and responsibility 24/7. Professional/business
woman/worker, wife, mother, committee chair/volunteer, most of us fill
several roles and expect ourselves to do them well. We’re always
“on.” What better vacation from all that competence than to relax
and let a trusted lover take control for a while?
I asked three authors
who use bondage in their work – Alexandra Adams of Renaissance Books, Ann
Jacobs of Red Sage Publishing, and Vicki Lewis Thompson of Harlequin Temptation
and Blaze – for a few thoughts on the appeal of bondage and submission
in sensual romance. All three emphasized trust, relinquishing control,
– “For such a consensual relationship to occur, the partners must participate
in a voluntary exchange of power. The submissive partner gets turned
on by abdicating all power over herself or himself to another. The
dominant partner gets turned on by accepting the gift of submission in
a worthy (emotionally safe) manner. The prime ingredient that makes the
power exchange work is trust. When love underlies the trust, the
two partners can achieve a height of sensual satisfaction bordering on
“In my novel, GABRIELLE’S
AWAKENING, the man is the dominant partner, the woman a natural submissive
discovering her fundamental sexual nature rather late in life. Christine
Spindler wrote of that book, 'GABRIELLE’S AWAKENING is the literary equivalent
of a multiple orgasm, but it is also an incredibly sweet love story.’
More women than men buy it, so they must find that even if it does not
reflect their own experience, it fuels their fantasies. That, to
my mind, is the most fundamental challenge facing an author of sensual
romances: enrich the fantasy life of readers. Readers daring enough
to venture where they have not gone before, into the realm of d/s, might
discover a new and intriguing aspect of romantic love.”
Ann Jacobs – “Bondage?
To me it’s silken bonds that exert more figurative than literal control
in a luxurious setting, preferably exotic as well as erotic. Bondage is
plied by a to-die-for gorgeous lover skilled in the erotic arts. My kind
of bondage feeds the captive fantasy, fulfills the secret desire of many
women to relinquish control of themselves to a strong man – at least in
“This is the sort
of fantasy I fed in “The Barbarian,” although I used the bonds as symbols
of the hero’s total domination of his bride in bed, just as he had already
mastered her castle and her people with another kind of sword. And I turned
the tables on my hero as the story progressed. ‘The Barbarian’ was about
control: his over her, hers over his, and love’s over both of them.”
Vicki Lewis Thompson
– “Writing for Harlequin Blaze gives me a whole new range of options for
love scenes. I've had a great time including bondage in both my novella
‘Mystery Lover’ and my August Blaze NOTORIOUS. But in each case,
we're talking about safe and fun, not dangerous and scary.
“For my characters,
bondage is all about velvet restraints and exploring the concept of giving
a lover complete control. There's never a hint of intimidation, never
anything rough. Taking control or relinquishing it to a lover is
exciting enough all by itself, in my opinion.”
To which, I can
only add, “Hear, hear!”