Saturday, January 26, 2013

Big Book of Bondage Blog Tour: Giselle Renarde

This cover is bold, striking, and clean. A light-skinned woman's right waist and hip, from about three-quarters up her thigh to one-third of the way up her rib cage. A black leather harness with an O-ring and silver buckles transects her waste and goes under her crotch. Black background behind her. The book title and author's name are all on her hip and thigh, below the harness.
Review of Giselle Renarde's story, "Double Dutch"

I'm thrilled to be a contributor to Alison Tyler's new anthology, the Big Book of Bondage: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint, published by Cleis Press. This book lives up to its title -- it's huge!

For this blog tour, Alison has asked each contributor to review a piece by another author. I got early dibs in choosing from the very impressive roster that includes some of my favorite erotica writers (such as D. L. King, Shanna Germain, and Alison Tyler, herself). Giselle Renarde's name in the Table of Contents caught my eye. I flipped right to her story. Although I enjoy good smut across genders, lesbian erotica makes my, um, heart swell. When I saw that "Double Dutch" had an all-female cast, I was sold.

Although Giselle has written scores of stories and a few books, it was when I read her story, "Blood Lust," in my contributor's copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 that I truly became a fan. It haunted me with its perfect economy of language and utterly unique plot. I loved how she blended seemingly oppositional elements in a way that felt totally natural -- the fantastical with the real, the mysterious with the know-it-in-your-bones, the creepy with the homey. While the plot and characters in "Double Dutch" are very different from those in "Blood Lust," the writing has the same strong, distinctive voice and engaging characters.

The tension in "Double Dutch" starts with the word go. Actually, it starts with the first two words: "Damn, girl!" and draws the reader in with the lively language of four passionate teammates.
"Damn, girl!” Nakesha tore Jansey’s rope away. Hurling it to the ground, she stomped on it with the ball of her foot like she was crushing a cigarette. “How many times we been over this? It’s Crouger first, then into the Awesome Annie.” 
“I know, okay? I made a mistake.” Jansey bent to pick up her jump rope, but Nakesha’s foot wasn’t moving. In her peripheral vision, she noticed Ruby and Beatriz skulking at her sides.
I was also very curious about how a story that seemed to start out with four girls getting into an argument over a jump-rope game could possibly turn into erotica.* Well, it did! Given the book's title, you've probably figured out that the jump rope gets used for more than skipping.
Jansey was too shocked to react. They’d tied her arms behind her back? Why would her skipping team do that to her? . . . A dull ache began in her shoulders and bled down her back. As the other three girls took up their ropes, Jansey eased herself down on her knees. That was better—or, at least, the best she could hope for in such a strange circumstance. . .  
. When Nakesha turned on the boom box, the beat soared through the gymnasium floor, rocking Jansey’s calves. The music ran up through her thighs. It got right inside her spandex one-piece, vibrating inside her pelvis, making her instantly wet. Music could do that for her. That’s why she’d always been an easy lay at dances. The beat made her hot.
I don't want to spoil what comes next, but rest assured: this is not a simple girl-meets-girl/girl-gets-girl story. Jansey gets a lot more than that!

In addition to being sexy, "Double Dutch" brings a lot of sweetness and fun into the mix. The characters have a camaraderie that is infectious, carried in the fast beats of their dialogue and the familiarity of their clothes, their gear, and the space they inhabit. A deeper connection than you'd guess at the beginning is revealed in looks and touches and unfolding history.

I am making my way through the Big Book of Bondage and thoroughly enjoying the variety. Even so, Renarde's story has stuck with me. In fact, it even made me curious about competitive Double Dutch! Below are two (G-rated) videos of Double Dutch delights. These ladies -- and dudes -- are having so much fun, just watching them put a big silly grin on my face. What else can do that? Oh yeah, reading this book can.

Catch up with the other reviews in this blog tour at Alison Tyler's blog.

*It should go without saying, but just in case you're new to professional erotica: These characters are not girls. They're young women.

Click play and turn up the volume! You know what Jansey said about that beat....