Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Playing Knotty

Rate this book
Bondage meets bookworm in this sizzling erotic romance about a shy bookshop owner who discovers an exciting new side to herself when an old friend opens a bondage workshop in the back of her store!

Emma Green has never been very confident. When Ian Cooper, an old friend, asks to rent out the back room of her bookstore for a bondage workshop, she agrees because she needs the money. She isn’t expecting to participate, and she definitely isn’t expecting to enjoy it. But all of Emma’s expectations fly out the window when she tentatively agrees to be Ian’s bondage model for workshops and exhibitions—and her success in the role upends all previous notions she had about her body and her desirability.

Now, Emma must learn to reconcile these conflicting images of herself while dealing with another conflict: Is Ian just another playboy, or everything she’s been looking for?

Kindle Edition

First published March 16, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Elia Winters

15 books343 followers
Elia Winters is a fat, tattooed, polyamorous bisexual who loves petting cats and fighting the patriarchy. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school, where she also runs the drama club. In her spare time, she is equally likely to be found playing tabletop games, kneading bread, cross-stitching, or binge-watching Marie Kondo. A sex educator and kink-positive feminist, Elia reviews sex toys, speaks at kink conventions, and writes geeky, kinky, cozy erotic romance. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her loving husband and their weird pets.

In addition to her official website, you can also find Elia on Twitter and Facebook.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
41 (19%)
4 stars
101 (46%)
3 stars
61 (28%)
2 stars
9 (4%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for ~ Becs ~.
709 reviews2,119 followers
March 19, 2015

Well, this was a sweet contemporary romance but not quite the edgy affair I was hoping for.  It’s the story of Ian and Emma.  Emma owns a bookstore and is struggling to make ends meet.  Ian, an old High School friend, pops in occasionally to buy books and notices she has a spare storage room and asks to rent it for one of his ‘workshops’.  Turns out he is a rope bondage instructor and his model cancels at short notice and Emma steps in and I think you can guess where we go from there.

While I did enjoy this, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  I think it’s possibly my expectations that were misplaced though as I was looking for a kinky little number and that’s not quite what I got.  This is very much BDSM lite focussing only on the B in BDSM and Ian isn’t a dom – he’s more of a switch who likes to tie girls up and likes to be tied himself so if you’re looking for a commanding, self-possessed dom, you’re not going to find it here.

I also found this HUGELY frustrating – Ian and Emma are quite possibly the most awkward new lovers in the known universe.  The minute sex was over, they couldn’t meet each others eyes and were like bashful school kids.  Both of them have strong feelings for each other but are too reticent to say anything and plenty of misunderstandings ensued!  It was a bit like the blind leading the blind here.  They’re both as bad as each other.

Emma is seriously lacking in confidence and self-worth and I found being in her headspace for 300 pages a rather difficult place to be.  She doubts herself at every juncture and and appeared to have virtually no self-esteem.  After a while, she’s just plain exhausting.

Also, the secondary characters – I found myself skimming over those scenes.  In that respect, it read rather like a second book in a series and Ian’s best friend Brent and his wife Missy felt like they’d been the central characters in a previous book but a bit of research reveals that to be wrong and I found it hard to see the author’s motivations in lavishing quite as much attention on them as she did. They don’t add to the story and I hurried them along to get back to the main event – Ian and Emma.

What was done REALLY well here was the rope bondage scenes.  While not always sexual, they’re intensely sensual and obvious strong attention to detail and loving affection went into writing those scenes.  They’re so well described that I could follow them perfectly as Ian wound the ropes around Emma.  Even when they’re not leading to sex, I found these scenes incredibly HOT and they were absolutely the highlight of the book for me.

So, it’s an enjoyable contemporary romance with some gorgeously sensual rope bondage scenes and a central couple that I kind of liked even though I wanted to slap them with a wet kipper sometimes.

3 knotty stars

Profile Image for Michelle.
2,101 reviews1,254 followers
March 16, 2015
ARC provided by publisher in exchange of honest review

[image error]

When shy bookstore owner Emma Green was asked by her friend, Ian Cooper to be a model for his seminar, a whole new side of Emma's sexuality is explored in bondage. Who would of thought, Ian, an accountant has a kink for ropes and bondage. Well Emma's tame and boring life, is full of new eye-opening experiences for her when Ian allows her to explore this new found love of bondage.

Ian and Emma's chemistry was HOT when it involved rope play but when the knots and ropes are not involved, these two needed to take a lesson in how to express how they felt for one another. Emma can't shake off the feeling that Ian might not be into her as much as she is into him but that is far from the truth. Honestly, these two need to take a lesson in communication 101. So will Emma finally be able to express how she feels for Ian?

Overall, I enjoyed reading Playing Knotty. It was sexy, cute, nerdy, and a great read that I devoured in one sitting. I will definitely be checking out more works from the author.

[image error]

Review can also be found on Four Chicks Flipping Pages
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,264 reviews222 followers
November 5, 2016
I first read this a couple of years back and I have been devouring Winters stuff since, but I don't like reviewing books that I haven't read recently so I reread it yesterday.

Emma owns and runs a book store with a large back room space. When Ian, an old high school friend, notices it and finds out that the normal location for his rope bondage classes has doubled its charges he proposes renting it for his classes. Emma is intrigued, and when Ian's bondage model gets the flu, she steps in to the role.

So what's going on here is extremely light BDSM (only bondage is featured here). Ian is a long-time rigger and has been long aware of his kink. Emma on the other hand is a complete newbie, but she's wildly turned on by the bondage she's being shown and Ian himself. The actual plot concerns Emma's poor self image and low self-esteem and where these have come from and how she blossoms as she begins to embrace something that she really wants.

It's positive, fun and lacking most of the gender rubbish that's so prevalent in romance books that use BDSM. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,082 reviews862 followers
April 1, 2015
Shy and insecure, Emma Green is about to get an eye opening experience when her former classmate, Ian makes a request to use the unused space attached to her book store. In need of the cash, Emma accepts his request and does a little research into a side of Ian she never expected.

When Ian informs Emma that he gives instructional classes in bondage, it becomes clear that the idea turns her on. When his model has to cancel, Emma surprises herself when she volunteers and after one night of knot tying... these two can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other. But Ian can’t seem to tell her about the crush he’s had on her for years and Emma can’t seem to let go of the insecure girl that lurks inside.

Gah. Okay this is one of those romances where so much would be solved with a little communication. This drives me absolutely crazy. I get that it’s there for the story, that it gives the angst and all the drama a voice, but come on! How can two people bump uglies so much and not be able to hold an honest conversation! Emma was very insecure. Sure the author gives you the back ground as to why, but it did drive me nuts.

There were times when I skimmed past the scenes that involved other characters just because some of the scenes seemed to be out of place, not really driving the main story forward. It became a little difficult to stay focused when we veered off the main plot a few times.

Overall this was a cute read that had some funny moments. The characters drove me a little too crazy to fully enjoy the story though. I need some backbone with my characters and both seemed to be lacking in that department.

Profile Image for Albert.
1,426 reviews32 followers
March 5, 2015
Playing Knotty by Elia Winters is a different take on the current deluge of bondage erotica that is in the market. There is no dom and submissive relationship here and no BDSM, only the B.

"..His phone beeped, the reminder he'd set earlier to check in online for his flight. As he printed out his boarding passes and conference paperwork, he imagined Emma's reaction to the real reason for his trip to Ohio. Sweet, straitlaced Emma would probably fall over if he told her he was leading rope bondage workshops at a kink conference. It wasn't something people expected of him: as an accountant, he was supposed to fit the stereotype of an accountant..."

Emma Green has heard her whole life how she wasn't thin enough, not pretty enough and not successful enough. From her friends, from her mother, from the relationships she couldn't keep. In money trouble, she hastily agrees when her old friend Ian Cooper asks to rent out her storeroom, behind her book store to hold classes. It is later when she learns what the classes consist of that she has second thoughts. Ian is the leading authority on rope bondage. How to tie lovers up, what rope to use, where to place it and how to place your lover in the position you want them in. Still Emma agrees and more so, agrees to be Ian's assistant for the class when his regular model is unable to attend.

What Emma learns about herself and her desirability during these classes flies in the face of everything she has even been led to believe about herself. Under Ian's careful bondage, she becomes more free than she has ever been. More beautiful and more independent. But is what she is feeling real or just a part of a play put together by Ian for his class.

"..Crunching across the gravel on the way back to the car, Emma stared up at the stars, bright and clear away from the lights of the city. Boston glimmered across the bay, seeming impossibly far. Her night seemed like a dream. And as with a dream. she was worried it would all dissolve once they drove back into those lights, reality pushing back down around her again. She'd found a new Emma tonight, one who was sexy and worthy and desirable, one who didn't have to apologize for existing, for being who she was. As Ian started the car, she felt the irrational fear that, as they drove away from this magical place, new Emma would slip away..."

Playing Knotty is a beautiful novel of empowerment and self awareness that comes from within a person, regardless of their physical well being. By allowing herself to be tied up and put on exhibition, Emma finds a beauty and desirability in herself that has been denied to her by all those who love her. Even more, she doesn't need to be bled or beaten to achieve it. It is through this expression of vulnerability that she allows to show and that she allows to given to her, that Emma comes to full flower.

A tender and very sexy novel.
Profile Image for Wminbc.
1,139 reviews84 followers
February 18, 2015
While overall good, excellent writing and editing...my PP was front and centre in this book...Talk to each other dammit!

Review is up on the blog:


2. Learning is fun!

3. Teaching is rewarding!

4. Accountants can be kinky!

5. Book girls…now they can be super kinky!

This book was very well written and edited, but I was still screaming at the book. My biggest, prickliest, most irritating pet peeve (PP) is when couples do not talk in a book. One would think that with the actually talking they did do regarding the ropes, the tightness, the positions, that they would talk about how it felt to feel the ropes, how it felt to have their hearts tighten and flutter, how it felt to be put into the position of booty call…But, alas no. Thank goodness Emma finally put on her big girl panties (and by big girl panties I mean her red thong to deliver her “I love you, but you don’t love me” speech)…and told Ian that she cared even if he didn’t. Ugggg…why waste time people! Life is short, tell people you care for that you do, kiss boys and girls and men and women that you love/lust, and most definitely, do not let a day go by letting a loved one not know that you love them!!! Enjoy!
Profile Image for Rachel.
637 reviews19 followers
March 22, 2015
This was my first book by this author and after inhaling it, I can honestly say it won’t be my last. From the first page to the last I was captivated by this book. There really is no other word to describe it.

The author has written a book about an often taboo subject in rope play and made it into a love story that was surprising, tender and hot. Not an easy thing to do with what this reader thinks is a fascinating subject.

What happens in this beautifully written and descriptive story really is an awakening of her soul for the heroine in Emma. It was wonderful to see her go from a quiet, yes woman to an assertive and confident woman, with horrors of all horrors, her own opinion on things.

We see the hero Ian bring out a surprising side to Emma, one that he never expected from the girl he’s had a crush on since high school. Through his tutelage in bondage and encouragement he sees the other side of Emma and it only make him want her more.

“You’re beautiful like this. Like a work of art. A sculpture. I wish you could see yourself.”

When accountant Ian asks bookstore owner Emma to rent her spare space at the back of her shop for his workshop, neither knew where one simple request would take them. They embark on a journey of discovery and soon find themselves falling for the other.

But can Emma reconcile that the person she has become under Ian’s attentions is really who she is and who he wants or will her insecurities ruin her new found confidence and chance for love? As for Ian, will an overheard conversation derail the happiness he has found with Emma and chase him away from his perfect match?

“There’s nobody here but us, Em. How about you stop pretending and tell me what you want?” You, she wanted to say, her lips even forming around the word. His gaze was on her mouth. His eyes shone dark, feral, and he wanted her. This wasn’t just him teasing her or flirting; he wanted her the way a man wanted a woman, and the hell with all of it, the hell with whatever tomorrow was going to bring: She was going to have him, at least for tonight."

I really have to say that the rope play is very sensuous and really, how the author has managed to convey the beauty, freedom and sensuality of the acts is amazing. You can really imagine how Emma and Ian are reacting to each tie and knot.

This book was a fantastic read and one I’m glad I stumbled across and gave a try to. I hope you do the same, it’s worth every word.

Be warned this book does contain bondage, rope play, voyeurism, hot sex, sexual enlightenment and a very hot rope master.
Profile Image for Christi Snow.
Author 67 books743 followers
March 14, 2015
My Review:
Okay, the publisher sent me a request to review this book and I was sold when I read the story description...a shy bookstore owner who discovers her inner kink? I'm there. But this was so much better than even I expected.

Emma is like just about every girl out there. She has a few pounds to lose, but her self esteem is worse than most because she grew up with her mother, who constantly criticized and lectured on how a "big" girl should act, dress, and eat. She's learned to hide her figure and even worse...to hide her true self from the world. This book is epic just in watching Emma come to realize how much she's hiding from the world and how she's the one ultimately paying for that.

And how she ultimately finds her inner peace is purely begun because of Ian and how he sees her. Ian was that ultimate nerd in school who grew into his looks. Now he's an accountant who is also a bondage instructor in his free time. He's had a crush on Emma ever since high school, but her self esteem is such that she simply doesn't see it. His bondage classes have several issues at the same time...he loses his meeting place and then his model gets sick at the last minute. Emma comes to his rescue in both instances and that sets up the story.

I liked the way this story played out. The bondage is life-changing for Emma. It puts her in a position she never would have considered before....being open and vulnerable and suddenly her life view of herself begins to change. As she sees herself through Ian's eyes and even the eyes of the observers to their bondage scenes, she sees just how skewed her viewpoint of herself has been. I loved getting to read about that change in her.

And it's a fun romantic story too. Ian and Emma were friends in high school, but they were never that close. Just acquaintances ...although he did have a crush on her that he never acted on. Watching them rediscover each other was really heart-warming. I also liked the additional story lines of them with their respective friends and the way those friendships impacted the outcome of the romance.

This was just one of those books that I flat-out enjoyed. The romance was sweet. The overall theme was beautiful. The bondage scenes were incredibly sexy...I loved it when Emma took charge of the ropes...whew, that was HOT! This was my first read by this author. I need to check out more of her writing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Talk Books To Me.
415 reviews18 followers
February 18, 2015
Karia’s Thoughts:


2. Learning is fun!

3. Teaching is rewarding!

4. Accountants can be kinky!

5. Book girls…now they can be super kinky!

This book was very well written and edited, but I was still screaming at the book. My biggest, prickliest, most irritating pet peeve (PP) is when couples do not talk in a book. One would think that with the actually talking they did do regarding the ropes, the tightness, the positions, that they would talk about how it felt to feel the ropes, how it felt to have their hearts tighten and flutter, how it felt to be put into the position of booty call…But, alas no. Thank goodness Emma finally put her big girl panties (and by big girl panties I mean her red thong to deliver her “I love you, but you don’t love me” speech)…and told Ian that she cared even if he didn’t. Ugggg…why waste time people! Life is short, tell people you care for that you do, kiss boys and girls and men and women that you love/lust, and most definitely, do not let a day go by letting a loved one not know that you love them!!! Enjoy!
Profile Image for Sandy S.
6,460 reviews163 followers
March 23, 2015
3.5 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 16, 2015

Bondage meets bookworm in this sizzling erotic romance about a shy bookshop owner who discovers an exciting new side to herself when an old friend opens a bondage workshop in the back of her store!

Emma Green has never been very confident. When Ian Cooper, an old friend, asks to rent out the back room of her bookstore for a bondage workshop, she agrees because she needs the money. She isn’t expecting to participate, and she definitely isn’t expecting to enjoy it. But all of Emma’s expectations fly out the window when she tentatively agrees to be Ian’s bondage model for workshops and exhibitions—and her success in the role upends all previous notions she had about her body and her desirability.

Now, Emma must learn to reconcile these conflicting images of herself while dealing with another conflict: Is Ian just another playboy, or everything she’s been looking for?


REVIEW: 3.5 stars--PLAYING KNOTTY is an adult, contemporary erotic romance storyline that focuses on rope and knot play-the ‘bondage’ part of BDSM. This is bookstore owner Emma Green, and accountant/bondage instructor Ian Cooper’s storyline. Most of the storyline takes place in and around Boston and Emma’s book store-PROLOGUE.

Told from alternating third person perspectives, the premise follows Ian Cooper as he endeavors to find a suitable location and model for his next bondage instruction class. Enter former high school acquaintance Emma Green, who has some available space at the back of her store. It just so happens that Emma is in need of a quick influx of cash and Ian offers room rental and modeling fees if Emma is willing to be his ‘bondage model’. What ensues is Emma’s introduction into rope and knot play, something she takes to like a duck to water.

Emma has some issues of self esteem; raised by a mother who was always concerned about physical beauty and image, Emma has always believed she is not quite good enough, pretty enough, slim enough or smart enough to make it on her own. Ian happens to be the man who sees a beautiful woman who has no problems with the kinky side of Ian’s life

Nine years earlier, Ian had a small crush on his high school friend and lab partner Emma Green. Fast forward to present day and all of Ian’s fantasies are about to come true. The sexual relationship is enhanced by their mutual arousal through rope and knot play, and in this their friendship and working relationship takes the next step forward.

The secondary and supporting characters include Emma’s employee and wanna be poet Bethany; Emma’s friends Alina and Margot whose expensive tastes are not conducive to Emma’s current financial situation : Ian’s best friend Brent who owns a small ‘gamers’ shop ; several members of Ian’s workshops and weekend bondage role players; and Emma’s slightly dysfunctional family including her younger sister Julia whose own life is now affected by their mother’s need for perfection and control.

Saying that, I did have some issues with the couple’s lack of communication outside of the ‘bondage scenes’. Most of the anxiety and uneasy situations in their relationship were caused by confusion and misinterpretation of body language and communication with one another in their daily lives. In this, my enjoyment level of the storyline was affected by the misunderstandings and heartbreaking beliefs that neither one was interested in a permanent relationship yet no one was willing to make the first move. I know this is where the storyline conflict arises, but it made for some awkward and frustrating moments.

There is also an enormous amount of detailed description and information about bondage play that shows the author’s research and personal experience with ropes and knots. At times, I found myself lost in the intricate explanation and information trying to imagine in my mind the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the narration. I found myself struggling during the ‘how to’ and ‘play by play’ scenarios-I think my eyes glazed over a time or two.

Elia Winters puts her own spin on the BDSM writing genre-one where bondage and knot play are at the center of our couple’s sexual awakenings and arousal. If you are looking for something a little different; a little out of the ‘ordinary’ give Playing Knotty a try.

PLAYING KNOTTY is an interesting read; a detour from the usual BDSM storylines where the hero has a need to discipline the female. The rope/knot/and bondage play shows a different side to a lifestyle that many people are not wholly aware.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Profile Image for Tiffany.
199 reviews1 follower
March 16, 2015
3.5 STARS!

Charming, courageous, and lovely <3

This is one of those books that might change the way you see rope bondage, or any other act you may think of as taboo. Why? Because our lead character doesn’t just learn about a new lifestyle (like the rest of us), she also embraces her bold and adventurous side that she’s kept hidden for so long. You might think, “yea, yea, yea, this is just another BDSM book about two people falling in love. Whatevs!” Err..I don’t think so. At least for me it wasn’t. *shrugs* For me it wasn’t about the relationship, but more about Emma finding her own voice. Emma will become the girl you can familiarize yourself because of the insecurities we as women might understand all too well. Those voices that tell you, “no, don’t wear that, you’ll look ___.” We’ve all done it. Though, sometimes those voices become louder and don’t go away so easily. After meeting Ian, Emma starts the road to hushing those little devils, so she can accept her body and herself. <3

It just so happened (coincidentally before reading this book) that I watched The Duff, a movie about a girl who tries to reinvent herself because she thinks she’s the ugly duckling in her group of friends. Oh, and SPOILER ALERT: She’s not. She’s beautiful, and learns that she doesn’t need to impress anyone for boys to notice her. She’s funny, smart, and finally learns to believe it, too. Much like our girl, Emma.

Ian has had a crush on Emma since high school. He stops by her bookstore frequently, just to get a chance to see and talk to her. Emma doesn’t mind because she likes chatting with him. He’s sweet and thoughtful, and exactly the type she would go for. But, she doesn’t think she would be his. :(


Once Emma agrees to be Ian’s bondage model, things begin to change. I mean, of course, right?! :D Ian brings out the sexiness in Emma that she’s been covering for so long. Thanks to her mom and others, she has low self-esteem about the way she looks. Her mom constantly would tell her things she shouldn’t wear because they weren’t made for her body type, or they were “indecent.” She’s consistently frowned upon for getting second servings, or eating certain foods in general. She never felt confident at home, or outside of it really. Now, her sister is going through the same situation, but now that she feels comfortable and great about her body, Emma’s able to stick up for not only her sister but herself as well.

Ian also brings out other parts of Emma that are buried and scared to come out. She’s sometimes afraid to be the free-spirit she knows she can be, by staying quiet and keeping things bottled in. Now, she’s more comfortable saying what’s on her mind and being open about her feelings–something she’s never been able to do out of fear of losing people she loves.

Emma, people have been judging me my whole life. At some point, I realized that by obsessing over it, I was giving them power over me. So I just said ‘fuck it’ and started doing what I wanted.

High five, Ian! Like I mentioned earlier, to me, this book was all about a shy girl becoming a confident woman. Bondange isn’t just about “getting off.” It’s about fully opening yourself (no pun intended) to someone, and letting yourself feel and be vulnerable, and exposed. Emma, through the whole introduction to this new world, learned a lot about herself and how to feel comfortable in her own skin and not be afraid anymore.

…For some people, bondange is freeing.” He snorted. “That sounds stupid. I mean, bondage reveals who people are. It lets them be themselves. It’s hard to hide who you are when someone’s taking down your defenses like that.”

New Emma is now unapologetic and feels sexy, beautiful, and cherished!

Playing Knotty is a feel-good book, that will make you smile and leave you feeling radiant. :)

Wonderful read!

Review from TheNovelTease.com
Profile Image for Jessica Alcazar.
3,924 reviews446 followers
March 16, 2015
I received this ARC from Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books VIA NETGALLEY for an honest review!

This book turned out to be SO much more than what I expected. I can't even begin to explain all the emotions that ran through me as I read not only Emma's journey of self discovery but also her inner growth in accepting herself as she was and allowing others to really see her! OH, and Ian .... my GOODNESS, that man was absolute perfection on the inside and out. A little slow on the take (lol) but just wow!
When I first read the blurb for this book I just assumed it would be just another book on kink, but it was so much more! I even learned WAY more than I wanted to ever know about roping! The book was very thorough when it came to this art. To the point that I can see how some people might consider it overkill, but me, OH NO, Elia Winters made the bondage scenes so beautiful and sensual and sexy, that even the 'beginners workshops' had my panties damp! LOL
SO the gist is, that Ian has had a crush on Emma since their high school days, but not a pinning type crush, more like he crushed on her in high school but did nothing about it and after HS, he just moved on and didn't really pay it any mind.....Until he did! Now Emma, she was COMPLETELY clueless of not only his past desires, but the desires that had awaken in him once again when she said yes to his proposition of renting out her backroom to do some bondage workshops. Long story short on that front, Emma agrees, she becomes his model, hence the beginning of Emma's journey of self discovery and a relationship long over due :) There's a lot of ups and there's a lot of downs and TONS of miscommunication and/or lack of communication that cause both Ian and Emma some roadblocks, but in the end ...... yea, they get it :) The sexual chemistry between these two was incredibly portrayed for us by Ms Winters. Only a very talented writer could make me buy that a shy bookstore owner would just blink and POOF, now she's a bondage model AND, she likes it. And I bought it, hook line and sinker! I was hooked from page ONE! GAH, every scene they played out together was just SO incredible beautiful! LOOOOOOVED IT!
I really liked the way that Emma's self esteem issues and self worth issues were NOT the center on the story, but her journey was. I promise you will understand that if you read this book, which you MUST! Like IMMEDIATELY!
The only tiny problem I had with the novel, is its conclusion. Ms WInters took such care to unfold a beautiful story and make it come full circle for us, but the conclusion was really rushed. And as a reader, I would have liked to have had more time to enjoy Emma and Ian and all her friends and family as Emma finally finds her voice :( BUT still an EXCELLENT read I would recommend for EVERYONE!
Profile Image for Literati Literature Lovers.
1,922 reviews142 followers
April 19, 2015
Considering the fact that Playing Knotty by Elia Winters is billed as BDSM, some readers may find the word I’m going to use to characterize it a bit strange. The word is one my father used frequently to describe things that gave him pleasure and just made him feel good. That word is. . .delightful. Yes, book lovers, I found Playing Knotty to be one of the most delightful books I’ve read in a long time. Filled with an entertaining and plentiful amount of information about rope play, it tells the story of how a woman who has never felt attractive learns to love herself and the man who ties her up.

Playing Knotty is edgy without being dark as some books with elements of BDSM can be. Both Emma Green and Ian Cooper are very sweet characters whom readers will want to get together. Emma is a young woman who has spent her life tied up by a self-image that her abusive mother ingrained in her. And yes, I did say Emma’s mother was abusive although not in a physical sense. I think any parent who actively encourages a child to accept that he or she deserves less than the very best life has to offer is abusive. Every one of you who has ever had even the slightest problem with your weight is going to want to tie Emma’s mom to a chair and force feed her a Big Mac! As a matter of fact, I think one of the things that made this book so delightful to read is all of the characters (with the exception of Emma’s mom) are very likable. Another delightful aspect of this book is the slow and tentative way Emma and Ian develop their relationship. Prepare to love Ian as he helps Emma untie some of the knots of her youth while he shows her how to be tied up with some very grownup knots as he nudges her toward seeing herself as a beautiful woman worthy of the love of an attractive man. There will be fist bumps when Emma finds the courage to tell her two best friends what she really thinks and there will be shouts of delight as Emma faces her demons to try to salvage a family relationship that seems headed for disaster.

I love a story with a friends to lovers theme and this book is no exception. There is plenty of that kind of angst that makes you want to lock the characters in a room and yell “Just talk to each other for heaven’s sake!” and while there is a HEA for those who need one, the characters will have to work for it a bit. There is some pretty technical information about the art of knot tying. . . more than most of you will ever want to know, but the author actually has some illustrations and descriptions HERE on her website to help readers get the picture. Believe me, there is more to bondage than neckties and handcuffs! I highly recommend this book to readers who love a book that’s sweet, tender and steamy, and just a little bit knotty.
Profile Image for Jeannie Zelos.
2,801 reviews51 followers
March 17, 2015
Playing Knotty, Elia Winters
Genre: Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, this isn’t a very long read, around 3500 kindle locations, but its packed with heat, and a fun story.
Emma- I loved her, she’d worked hard to get past her mothers constant comments about her weight, and yet its easy to see how it still affects her, how she tries to dress to disguise her curves, even though as Ian says, she’s gorgeous. Its affected her confidence to in that she doesn’t stand up for what she wants, even with her friends, but has this need to go along with whatever they say, as she just wants everyone to like her. That's down to her mother, and when we see them all together at a family meal its easy to see why. Later in the book when her mum does some explaining I found I felt so sorry for her, and could see her reasoning even if it was flawed, and that from really disliking her and seeing her as a bully I came to like her...I enjoy when that happens, when my perceptions are changed, and it made me think how easily we judge people sometimes without knowing all the facts.
Then Ian comes along – he’s an accountant but also does rope bondage workshops and is active in the Kink world. It comes as a huge surprise to Emma, but in fact it really brings her out. She can see that Ian’s aroused by her curves, that he enjoys seeing her tied up, and it makes her feel very sexual too. So much so that right from the first time they’re soon in a hot and heavy sexual frenzy each time they work together. She’s come along way but...she still lacks confidence, and doesn’t know if what she and Ian have is a relationship, or just hot and convenient sex. She wants more but years of just fitting in with others leaves her unable to ask him. He doesn’t make it clear what he wants, but we can see that for him its because he knows she lacks confidence, and doesn’t want to push her outside her comfort zone and lose what he hopes could be more than just friendship and sensual sex.
Its looking good, they get closer, Emma gets more confident and then...an overheard snippet of conversation brings things crashing down. Can they get back on track or is it all going to fall apart?Well, I was so frustrated – wanting to shout “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER” -but no...things got more stilted and I was in despair for them. I really wanted to shake the pair of them
Stars: Four, a fun and erotic read.   
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.
Profile Image for Anne Dirty Girls' Good Books.
435 reviews11 followers
February 11, 2015
This is the first book by Elia Winters that I've read, but I'll certainly be reading more! I loved practically everything about it!

Emma is a pretty shy bookstore owner who doesn't really know anything about bondage or rope play when Ian asks if he can use her back room as meeting space for a bondage class he teaches. She knows Ian from high school and he often shops at her bookstore. She's not sure about the bondage, but she needs the money, so she agrees. Then she uses the power of Google to learn a little more about bondage and finds a kink she didn't know she had. When Ian asks if she'd be his model for the class she agrees.

There was so much to enjoy about this book. Emma has self esteem issues, especially as related to her appearance and weight, but she's pretty comfortable with her sexuality. She has the bigger character arc in this story as comes to realize her own self worth.

Ian is pretty much perfect from page one, and I was fine with that. He probably had some flaws somewhere, but I didn't notice any.

The story of their relationship was solid and incredibly hot! The rope play was described with just enough technical detail for me to picture what was going on. There's enough time in Emma's and Ian's heads to understand why they are turned on by it. While this book would technically be a BDSM book, it's really only got the Bondage part of BDSM, with very little of the D/s and no M at all.

There are some geek references in the story that were icing on the cake to me. Ian plays board games with his friends. They were games I've played and loved. Ian and Emma each have good friends and their time with friends advanced the story and was entertaining. I particularly liked Brent, Ian's game store owner friend who is both lazy and ambitious.

The only thing I didn't like about the story was a misunderstanding that happened toward the end of the book. It was resolved fairly quickly, but I wish it had been addressed immediately. Overall, the rest of the book easily compensated for this misunderstanding.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance. It's going on my Best of 2015 list and I'm looking forward to more by Elia Winters!
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,952 reviews827 followers
March 16, 2015
Kitty's review posted on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

Playing Knotty’s blurb looked like this would be a fun little book to read. Not totally BDSM, not totally a love story. What’s a little bondage, between friends?

Emma and Ian were perfect for each other. Both a little shy and backwards and both with feelings for each other that are finally brought to the forefront with a little rope around her wrists. Once Emma experiences the feel of the rope, the sensation of being bound, there’s no going back for her. What started out as just a little something because she needed the money, turned into her facing her sexuality and Ian facing the possibility that it’s “just sex” between them.

Emma definitely has self-esteem issues due to her body type but Ian makes her feel beautiful. Of course, her mother does not help any. But, one night at a play party, one night of exhibitions, a little talk with Ian, lots of self-exploring and it’s time for her to face her feelings. Now, if she could just figure out if Ian wants her in his life.

I loved watching the evolving of Emma from shy and insecure to the open, honest and self-assured woman she became at the end. As she stood up to her mother, her friends … as she finally reached out for what she wanted, I was cheering. Ian could not have been more supportive of her until he overheard a conversation which made him back off. One last scene, one last night of rope play with the woman he loved and he would walk away.

So, yes, Playing Knotty was a fun book. A little break from deep, intense reads. It lifted my spirits (being a full-figured woman) and made me smile. As I said, I loved watching Emma evolve and Ian could not have been a better fit for her. From shy book-worm to surfing the web for bondage to anime, I enjoyed every aspect of this book. Elia Winters chased away my winter doldrums with Playing Knotty and I hope she continues on this line. There were some fun, interesting supporting characters that I would love to see in the future.

Review copy provided for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
2,183 reviews82 followers
March 11, 2015
My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2015/03...

Playing Knotty is sexy, kinky, fast-paced, and a pure joy to read. In Ian, author Elia Winters gives readers a hot, geeky hero who’s seriously talented with rope. Ian’s an accountant who’s also incredibly knowledgeable about rope play. And while he’s sexy as hell, it’s the fact that he’s been head-over-heels for Emma since high school that made me melt. It isn’t easy for Ian to gain Emma’s trust, but he’s patient with her. To Ms. Winters’s credit, Ian’s human and not a saint; he knows he can’t be the one to make Emma change the way she sees herself. And speaking of Emma, she’s a smart, likeable heroine whose insecurities not only make you feel for her, but are relatable. Growing up she had it drilled into her head that any woman who isn’t thin is automatically not desirable. Because of this, she’s developed a warped view of herself and how she has to be around others. I loved watching Emma come into her own over the course of Playing Knotty . It isn’t easy, which adds a sense of realism, but the journey’s definitely worth it.

As a couple, Emma and Ian are red-hot. Ms. Winters’s knowledge of rope play makes both the bondage workshops and the erotic scenes shine. Add in the genuine likeability of both Ian and Emma and you have a winning romance. Even the secondary characters are more than you first expect them to be, which was a wonderful surprise. There’s a lot to love about Playing Knotty – it’s fun, nerdy, seriously hot, and Emma and Ian will have you rooting for them to get their happily ever after. I cannot wait to re-read Playing Knotty and I will definitely be buying up Ms. Winters’s other work!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
694 reviews16 followers
March 9, 2015
Now I'm not adverse to a bit of bondage play, but I'm by no means an expert so I wasn't quite sure what I'd think about this book before I started. Turns out, I like it. A lot! The thing is though, I wasn't reading this purely as erotica - I wasn't imagining myself in Emma's position, wishing my partner would tie me up in ropes. It was more that Winters' writing brought it to life so much for me that I got totally ensconced in Emma's character, and so when she was turned on... well, let's just say I was in a good mood a lot of the time while reading this book! It's not all about the sexy times though - it was interesting to see Emma grow as a person. She starts out incredibly shy and self-conscious, with bad body-image issues, but with Ian's help she starts to believe that she's actually beautiful. Every girl needs a man in her life who looks at her like she's beautiful, cute and smokin' hot all at once! Ian was actually one of the best male characters I've read for a while. Often the guy's character doesn't get that well developed, but I really clicked with Ian and found him a pleasure to read. I'll definitely be looking out for more from Elia Winters.
Profile Image for Cathryn.
289 reviews2 followers
December 25, 2022
Excellent rope bondage scenes and great smut, but the rest of the book fell flat. The friends were boring and I skimmed pretty much any scenes that didn't involve the two leads. Very sexy, but too bad the book was very meh outside of that.

Editing my review. The smut in this book is living rent free in my brain and I've reread those scenes a few times now. The smut in this book was that good for me.
Profile Image for Elle.
1,243 reviews
January 29, 2015
Ms. Winters' romance explores a bondage relationship from multiple perspectives. In addition to the experienced, Ian and newbie, Emma, the commentary from friends and family on the relationship makes for an interesting story. Ms. Winters' specific detail on the knots and tying procedure demonstrates a well researched story.
1,019 reviews
January 10, 2022
Profile Image for Imara219.
89 reviews2 followers
April 11, 2023
Not Knotty Enough

This is a sweet and cute story involving the B in BDSM. As Ian, the MMC, states at the beginning of the novel, he likes knots, but he isn't a Dom, and this isn't about dominance in the bedroom. That really sums up this cute little tale. The author is amazing and does an awesome job with the story; all of my hang-ups are based on things that aren't my bag. I gave this story four stars because I can acknowledge that even though this wasn't a story I loved, the author deserves lots of props. The FMC was a doll. A shy, mousy heroine who was used to just getting along to get along. She was afraid to voice her thoughts and had low self-esteem. She was a regular-sized woman, and it helped that it was stated as a way to show us her progression but it was not all there was. Ultimately, I read the book because of her journey, as this felt less like a contemporary romance and more like a women's lit tale. Here is a breakdown of what wasn't working for me but I know others would love:

Kink: Bondage and tying up using ropes. This was explained in vivid detail from the beginning class to the workshop advanced class to a Play party. It highlights aspects of the bondage kink, what others may like, and why they are involved with his lifestyle. Me: I bought the book because the description of the FMC getting hot and bothered by the knotting slideshow on Ian's website was insanely hot, but the descriptions dragged on, giving that much vivid detail made the book feel more like a manual and less like a passionate affair. I'm not into the kink, but I wanted to read the story. If you really love it, I'm sure the long details wouldn't put you off.

MMC: Ian is a "nerd" bondage master. He is written like a perfectly regular guy. Great for the story but boring for me. Me: Ian wasn't dominant in just taking what he wanted. Everything was measured with some insecurity, not in the craft or kink, but with the FMC. He is also a switch, so we have a scene with him as a knot bottom for the FMC. I'm sure others would find this irresistible and leave you panting, but it's not my bag. Everything with Ian was done with a question and pause. This is written as a growth for the FMC, which was neat to read her progression, but I like MMC, who pushes boundaries and takes a little bit or a lot.

3rd POV: once again, the author does a phenomenal job of laying out the various perspectives, but this is told in the 3rd person. Me: I hate 3rd person because the story feels detached and soft-focused. 3rd person often lacks intensity.

Spice: This book takes a spicy, kinky concept but makes it licorice sweet. The book uses the kink well; the scenes are great, but the spice is low and the smut non-existent. The author, once again, lays out the spice explicitly, but ME: it feels stale and staid. If you are looking for a story with lots of consent throughout, you have this book. Dental dams, condoms, consent to kiss (MMC: "Do you want me to kiss you?", FMC: "I don't know. Do you want to kiss me?" "MMC: I would like to kiss you now. I am going to kiss you") style dialogue threw water on the spice for ME. I like there to be animalistic passion or possession during love scenes, not a barrage of "do you want..", "is this ok", "now I plan to..." I get why some really need this in their romance stories, but I'm not one. I just wanted Ian to be more sexually aggressive in the relationship. I'm not taking off stars for this. The author does the spice this way for a reason, and it all ties back into the FMC and her needs. I'm not hating on Ian or the way he was presented. Just all of that talk made me start skipping through scenes. There was a Play party, but of course, it was a no-fluids party. There was voyeurism, but it felt not as explicit or burning hot, just kind of smoldering.

All in all, I liked the book enough. It just wasn't fitting my personal likes or needs. I'm sure others would love it.
Profile Image for Limecello.
1,997 reviews29 followers
May 14, 2019
So I've developed this terrible habit of jumping around and reading sections so like ...
I barely read it from cover to cover, but effectively I read this book at least 3 times ...
more like 5 ...

So these characters are great - and I love that they're so normal!
No secret or uber billionaire or anything.
No super genius.

Just ... a small business owner, and an accountant.

And I loved that they were kinky but it wasn't a D/s thing - "just" bondage.
Of course it was super sexy.

Then the whole misunderstanding thing and omg them NOT TALKING TO EACH OTHER - although I get it in that like ... well they'd already known each other only not really
(although like - CAN you be lab partners with someone in HS and NOT become friends?)
... I guess I was ... O_o
[so HS was not terrible for me? Although like ... I mean it wasn't great/only upon reflection do/did I realize I had it pretty good... ANYWAY]

- but it was all organic, not forced/excessively generated, if that makes sense.

I don't think Ian changes much ... which is fine - Emma changes a lot though/makes the journey of "I am enough" - which was nice. I can see myself re-reading this book.

Profile Image for Regina Modesta.
Author 4 books5 followers
February 20, 2018
I very much enjoyed this book. The chemistry between Emma and Ian is so fun and sexy, as is the kink. I love that it focuses on the art and sensuality of relatively simple bondage. I feel it's dealt with in a way and creates an effect I haven't seen with bondage in other books. Like it's less dark and gritty and concentrates more on the seduction of bondage in and of itself. I like dark and gritty too, but I enjoyed the change in tone here. The only thing I found a little frustrating, but this is really a personal preference, is that Emma's self esteem isn't the greatest and it's essentially the primary obstacle in her and Ian's getting together. But I realize that's largely a plot generator (plus the message for women to feel better about themselves and see their own attractiveness gets some points), and I still really enjoyed the story. It's overall a fun erotic read and I would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Cori.
146 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2018
Not too short, pretty sweet

Very technical rope language lengthened the book in both a good way and a meh way. It lacked depth for me, but it was a sweet little rope romance.
Profile Image for Isobel.
18 reviews7 followers
May 31, 2021
Pretty annoyed the cover model was skinny-washed.
Profile Image for Beth.
807 reviews4 followers
May 3, 2021
Set in Boston (local to me) with just enough attention to detail to feel authentic. Bookstore owner Emma is barely making ends meet, and when an acquaintance -- Ian -- asks if he can rent her back room for a ropes course, her feelings are mixed but she ultimately says yes. The scheduled rope model catches the flu, Emma stands in, and her simmering attraction to Ian bursts into flame at being consensually bound up by her crush. A misunderstanding over how much each likes the other nearly derails the romance, but things turn out all right -- neatly wrapped up? -- in the end.

Long paragraphs over the knotting process may have some readers skimming, but the realistic characters that normalize fetish play, polyamory, and consent, paired with hot sex scenes, made this one a winner for me.
Profile Image for Sakura.
732 reviews55 followers
April 30, 2015
 photo PKteaser_zpsd6wm8t9x.jpg
:::3.5 Stars:::

This book was not at all what I expected it to be. The core of this story is bondage, plain and simple. That being said, I was expecting contemporary, but with the subject matter, I also assumed things were perhaps going to get a bit raunchy.
It turned out to be entirely sweet and sexy. Which I didn’t mind at all.

Emma Green owns her own bookstore and mainly keeps to herself with the exception of some outings here and there with a couple of her girlfriends. She’s insecure in many ways and strives to be accepted and please people.
One evening, her high school friend, recurring customer and crush, Ian Cooper, suggests renting out the back room in her shop for special events; specifically his event. Which happens to be a rope bondage workshop.

Needing her help as his model at the last minute, Emma lets her intrigue guide her into saying yes. Despite having feelings for each other, neither one can find the courage to reveal the truth. What they can do however, is give in to their sexual desires.

Emma was a character that really stood out to me. She had real imperfections, struggles, and insecurities that made me stir up a connection to her instantly. The lack of confidence she started out with dissipated slowly throughout the book. She grew into a stronger female who felt empowered, beautiful, loved, and sexy. She no longer felt obligated to be liked by everyone and anyone.

Even Ian had a stack of insecurities which is rare in romance books, especially those of the erotic nature. Both their timid personalities made for a uniquely interesting dynamic. It seemed like the only time they were sure of themselves individually and together was in heat of the moment. There was a lack of communication on both ends because of their insecure feelings about themselves.

The secondary characters and scenes not involving Emma and Ian were uninteresting to me so I found myself skimming over them each time. A couple of them didn’t even seem necessary for the story.

BDSM has been connected to the book in some descriptions, but there’s not a whole lot of that shown except for the bondage aspect. Ian isn’t so much a Dom, but rather a switch; as is Emma. I loved the way he described and defined bondage. He did so in a way that displayed his passion behind the act and wasn’t made to seem like a taboo hobby.

There was a lot of emphasis on rope tying: the variations of knots, descriptions on how to do it. It sort of read like a how-to book mixed in with a romance novel. And I mean that in a good way. The sex scenes were hot in a beautiful, passionate way; not crude in the least.

For readers looking for more sex than story, I wouldn’t advise picking up this book right away. However, I do think it’s a really cute book with a mature understanding and portrayal of bondage and lighter kink.
 photo f959c95a-ee14-41fd-b61d-497bd3e1c7e3_zpsgfyramat.png
Profile Image for Victoria Colotta.
Author 4 books329 followers
March 17, 2015
Okay. Let’s put this out there and get it over with. This book is about bondage or at least that is a major player in the story line. If you couldn’t get that from the title, then maybe the cover might tip you off. I am going to be honest with you all. When I was asked to review the book, I was nervous. However, as I started the book, I realized that this wasn’t what I thought at all.

When we first meet Emma, she is the girl that just wants to be liked. She goes with the flow and rarely stands up for what she wants. Then one day, Ian, an old friend from high school, asks her to rent out the space in the back of her store for a rope tying workshop. Apparently, the mild-mannered accountant has a thing for knots. Though hesitant at first, Emma agrees to let him host his workshop and even winds up being his model. As things begin to heat up between the two, Emma starts to come into her own, but she still has the nagging feeling that someone like Ian would never end up with someone like her. While Ian can’t make heads or tails of their relationship. The question remains, will they be able get out their own way to be together?

Here is why you should read the book. Yes, there is steam and sexiness in abundance in this story. There isn’t a person that reads this that will not tell you that. However, what really got me was the character of Emma. Not only does the author give her three dimensionality, but she allows her to grow and evolve. I love that. When an author lets us live through the evolution in one of their characters, there is nothing better. There is one moment, that Emma gets it. Everything snaps into place and you want to cheer. She has finally seen that she is more than what everyone else wants. Now she is going to stand up and get what she needs.

So if you like a little kink and a little sexy, this book is for you. However, even if this is not normally your thing, I might still recommend you take a read. The way that the author plays out the scenes with the rope play/bondage is not in your face or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way. There is an elegance and respect for the actions. Every time Ian asks Emma if she is alright, you almost feel as if he is checking with you as well. So, step out of your comfort zone, you might be surprised in what you get out of the book.

**Fun Side Note** Many years ago, I worked at a self-publishing house as the production manager. We had many books come and go, but one that stuck with me over all these years. It was a little book by Chanta Rose. Maybe, I was meant to read this book after all. :)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.