Henry is, to all outward appearances, an ordinary guy, a video editor for an interactive media company in the Central Valley of California, with a wife and two grown kids. Melanie is a cute young waitress at a diner near Henry’s studio. Henry and Melanie have nothing in common. Except a sexual passion for toy balloons. Henry occasionally watches Melanie blow up balloons for decoration at the diner and has no idea she shares a fetish with him.
Melanie, on the other hand, has an inkling that Henry is watching her for reasons other than her cute ass. But they finally makes the connection when Melanie puts a video on YouTube of herself popping balloons. Which puts happily-married Henry into something of a bind. How, exactly, should he deal with the discovery of a fellow fetishist, who isn’t a fellow at all, but a very attractive young lady?
Warnings: jealousy narratives, cheating, depictions of kink and slut shaming
Blowing It! is an erotic fetish novel about balloons and balloon popping. It’s also an incredibly emotionally driven drama about the life, sex, love and relationships of kinksters and how they navigate said arenas. Beautifully written, highly engaging, as sweet as it is sensual, this is a highly unique novel, and one that I was not sure going in what to expect of. I do not have a balloon fetish myself (full disclosure) so I was delighted for the opportunity to see this fetish through the eyes of someone for whom it is clearly a large and important part of their sexuality, and it did not disappoint; in fact, it far exceeded my expectations.
The story follows it’s two lead characters, Henry and Melanie, in their lives as they wrestle with how to balance their fetish with their relationships. Henry has been married for decades, and he and his wife Bonnie are happily in love and still head over heels for each other, but Bonnie does not share his fetish for balloons. Meanwhile, Melanie is young and single, and struggling to find a boyfriend who will accept her- fetish and all. The main drive of the plot is how these people interact, and how their relationships develop in conjunction with the balloon fetish. Now, I may not have a balloon fetish myself, but I certainly have a host of my own kinks. As a kinky person, navigating relationships with vanilla people can have it’s own bundle of difficulties, and this book nails that representation. So much of Henry and Melanie’s struggles rang true and authentic to me, from trying to explain the fixation to someone who doesn’t “get it”, to trying to dissect how the fetish formed, to dealing with mockery and harassment because of it. It was so heartwrenchingly familiar, and had so much resonance with more general kink experiences that I felt so strongly aligned with the story despite not sharing this specific fetish.
Melanie has a brief foray into making internet balloon popping videos, which lands her in some drama when people in her town find out about them. The slut shaming drama within the narrative aside, I’m not sure how realistic it is for Melanie’s video to be found in her little town by people she knows within days of it’s posting. Sex workers online manage to maintain their anonymity over years worth of content, and she gets outed within a day for one extremely niche fetish video? Although, honestly speaking, if that’s the biggest criticism I can muster for this book, I’d say it’s looking pretty damn good.
The main drive of the story is it’s characters. As such, they are all fleshed out to such a realistic degree that I couldn’t help being emotionally invested in them. Henry and Bonnie, particularly, as older characters, were an absolute joy. It’s rare in adult literature to see characters in their 50s as leads for erotic content and scenes, and even in non erotic lit the representation of older individuals with active libidos and vibrant sex lives is few and far between. Especially in female characters. I adored Henry and Bonnie, and their sexual intimacy was matched by the stunning depiction of their marriage. The complexities of their relationship as a fetishist and a vanilla were beautifully explored, and their love and commitment was breathtaking. While the story does deal with a potential cheating situation, and it would have been easy to make this a story about an affair as Henry meets Melanie, a fellow balloon fetishist who can share an aspect of his sexuality that his wife cannot, ultimately it always swings back around to confirming the steadfastness of the bond between Henry and Bonnie, and I adored it. Bonnie making tentative strides towards understanding and incorporating more of her husband’s turn-ons, and Henry staying true to his love for his wife despite temptation, was absolutely wonderful to read and I adored them both.
As a story taking place in the modern world, this isn’t a worldbuilding heavy tale. That said, the author also includes a lot of details about balloon fetishism, if you aren’t familiar with it, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about it if you are curious. I had no idea that there were different types of balloons for instance or that one could have preferences in the kinds of materials used for them. How many different ways to pop a balloon (and that it absolutely matters to each individual fetishist which way one chooses) or how there is a difference between those who like to pop them and those who do not. Playing with them during sex versus cuddling with them outside of sex. The nuances to the fetish were fascinating, and although I learned a lot from reading it, I know that this book likely only showcased the tip of the iceberg!
And of course, we come to the sexiness part of the review. While it’s hard for me to say that I found this book hot, since it is of course focused on a fetish that I do not share, I will say that I found this book incredibly sensual. Simply by virtue of seeing the characters become so aroused and enjoy themselves so much, the book conveys a sense of attraction and arousal. The author is incredibly good at describing exactly what he finds so sexy about balloons; I felt I was right there, feeling the texture of the rubber on my skin, the pressure of the air, the sudden give of the pops. It was all so lovingly depicted, and the author’s enthusiasm comes through so clearly, that you can’t help but have a fun time reading it. Even if it didn’t exactly get my own blood pumping, it engaged with me and made me feel happy and giggly and joyful just to see these characters indulging in something that brought them so much pleasure.
I was blown away (hah!) by this book, and adored every single moment with it. I could not have been happier, reading about kinky people exploring and celebrating their kinks and exploring and celebrating love and relationships. I can’t possibly recommend this enough, whether you have a balloon fetish or not. If you do, I’m sure this is a damn sexy book, and if you don’t it’s an opportunity to learn a bit about something new and fall in love with a darling cast of characters in the process. The representation of middle aged sexuality and of kink identity alone make this book a must read, and the smut is icing on the cake.
Have you read Blowing It!? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!