Sometime last August I was in the car with my phone, browsing through ebooks, looking for…something. I’m a big rereader, especially when I’m stressed—I read my first Jennifer Crusie book to literal pieces and I’m on my way to wrecking my other fave, and I’ve probably memorized Emily of New Moon at this point. But none of my owned books were doing it for me, and I couldn’t find anything I cared for online through my idle browsing, either.
What I really wanted, I think, was a Jennifer Crusie romance novel, but gay: something with memorable characters, sparkling wit, good sex, and solid comfort-reading creds, but light on the cisgender heterosexuality. I was also craving some good D/s, but I had low hopes for that; I will put up with a lot without quitting a book, but few D/s or kinky novels had, at that point, made enough of an impression on me to really care beyond the initial horniness. And, to be honest, I wanted some nonbinary characters, something where being nonbinary isn’t the entire focus of the story. On impulse and out of desperation, I wound up searching nonbinary erotica and found a bunch of stories about cis lesbians (…y’all) and some about sissification kink (…y’all) and then…a cute, pastel cover with a bald man in a blue shirt called All Tied Up.
“This looks less shitty than the others,” I said to myself, which is always a ringing endorsement. I cautiously looked at the summary, and then cautiously looked at the book preview…and then fell in love and needed it immediately. (Usually when I spend money, there’s a bunch of hemming and hawing to myself and sometimes to Damien about whether I should spend that money or not, talking myself into it, talking myself out of it, and then talking myself back into it. So an instant purchase was notable anyway.) When Damien got back to the car, told them I found my new favorite book and they should read it, too
We spent the day devouring the novel, and we still talk about it months later. And that’s also when I realized it’s time to branch out into reviewing books on Queer Earthling, not solely for financial gain but as a sort of evangelical movement to make sure everyone knows this book exists.
All Tied Up opens with the first of three central characters. Neil is a middle-aged lawyer, very successful, and very lonely. I was going to say that in most D/s stories to be found on Amazon, Neil is the boring dominant, but actually in most erotica he doesn’t exist because he’s a fat, bald, shy man. Anyway, Neil is not a dominant of any stripe; Neil is a gay submissive and, for that matter, a Boy who would love a Daddy to care for him. He visits a kink weekend at a resort in the mountains, hoping (but not expecting) to find his Daddy dom.
Immediately he is mistaken for another dominant, and his somewhat fragile self-esteem takes a few blows, but luckily he is bolstered by another submissive: the bratty, flirty, charming Jamie, who co-owns the resort with his own Daddy, Sebastian. Jamie and Neil are immediately attracted to each other, and Sebastian is charmed by Neil’s sweet personality.
Yes, friends. This is not only a queer romance: All Tied Up is a queer polyamorous romance.
After a bit of dancing around—Neil not realizing Jamie and Sebastian are in an open relationship, and both Jamie and Sebastian trying to be respectful of Neil’s desire for something permanent—they decide to spend the weekend together, so that Neil can get a taste of being someone’s Boy as he would like, and so they can have an adorable, short-term play partner who does not remind them of their manipulative ex.
This is an erotic romance novel, so you can imagine how well “short-term” works out.
The slow build first towards sex and play (which, even when temporary, is still thoughtful, considerate, and kind) works super well for me, and the slower burn towards love is also really enjoyable. As often happens, the biggest obstacle in the characters’ happiness is all their own expectations. The characters are delightful but flawed, and the flaws have real effects here and there on their ability to communicate and be vulnerable, with genuine consequences.
But even with (perhaps because of) those flaws, they are wonderful. All three of the main characters were just bursting with personality. The contrast between Jamie’s bratty submissive style and Neil’s sweet obedience lent a lot of energy and realism to the kink scenes, and Sebastian was not a flat, fantasy dom there to purvey kinky content (one of the biggest crimes in D/s fic, which I have been guilty of writing myself) but a genuine character who both makes mistakes and apologizes for them, who has a wonderfully inventive mind, and who genuinely enjoys the company of both his partners—who clearly like him very much as well.
Fitting in with all the slow (but not too slow) burn is a lot of discussion about boundaries and consent, which I adore seeing in kinky stories. While communication about feelings is occasionally lacking, communication about sex and kink is a constant feature, not only between the couple and their newbie play partner, but also between the established couple. It’s not just a bit of “Yes, we all consent, because the Internet says we should do that,” but occasional mentions of logistics and actual desires—who wants to top whom and how, what positions they want, and so on. The one time someone fails to communicate in a kink situation, it is handled appropriately—he eventually realizes he’s not up for, and aftercare commences…and the aftercare is sweet and perfect, with a lot of praise for stopping. It was adorable and gave me all the good squishy feelings, and it contributed to the characters’ developing closeness.
Another thing I really appreciated was the representation that, at no point, felt forced or box-ticky. Sebastian is Latino, Jamie is an amputee, and both are on the nonbinary spectrum. That’s not one, but two trans nonbinary characters for the price of one. Jamie’s disability was also handled very well, I think: neither fetishized nor ignored, it informed some of how he acts and moves without angst. Neil is also, as mentioned, not thin or young, which is refreshing in any romance or erotic media, and his fatness is celebrated and appreciated by all parties.
And since this is a sex blog, I realize I have perhaps not spoken as much about the actual erotic content as I should have. The sexiness is woven throughout the novel, which I adore; there’s constant flirting and desire and casual dominance and submission which is steamy and sexy if you like that kind of thing, which I most certainly do. But yes, the actual dedicated sex scenes are hot. They’re kinky and inventive, they navigate three bodies (and three personalities) with care, they incorporate toys and words in ways I enjoy tremendously. As mentioned, there’s negotiation and discussion that does not detract from The Sexiness in any way, but contributes to it by building anticipation.
I just…I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s part of a multi-author series (Destination Daddies), but it stands alone perfectly…but Reese Morrison likes to share characters between books, which is a fantastic marketing technique because I want all the books. Neil himself is a minor character from Dear Daddy, Please Want Me (which I haven’t read yet) and All Tied Up also introduces some characters that appear in A Little Bit Naughty (which I have, and will probably review sometime as well).
The Bottom Line
All Tied Up was steamy and kinky, but also scratched that fluffy romance novel comfort reading itch that I needed scratched so desperately. It’s also queer as shit, brimming with a comforting sort of D/s, and fully realized characters who leapt off the page. A good romance novel is one where you know they’re going to reach a happy ending, but you’re heavily concerned about how they’ll get there, which All Tied Up managed beautifully. But it also doesn’t forget its role as an erotic story, and delivers. This is absolutely a book I’ll reread when I need it, and that’s maybe the highest compliment I can think of.
Buy on Amazon for $5.99 (Kindle) or $15.99 (paperback)
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This post was not sponsored but does contain affiliate links. I purchased this book with my own money.