Authors
Alexandros
Carmine
Melanie Abrams
Julius Addlesee
Shelley Aikens
A. Aimee
Jeanne Ainslie
Fredrica Alleyn
Rebecca Ambrose
Diane Anderson-Minshall
Laura Antoniou
Janine Ashbless
Lisette Ashton
Gavin Atlas
Danielle Austen
J. P. Beausejour
P.K. Belden
Tina Bell
Jove Belle
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Ronica Black
Candace Blevins
Primula Bond
Lionel Bramble
A. J. Bray
Samantha Brook
Matt Brooks
Zetta Brown
James Buchanan
Louisa Burton
Angela Campion
Angela Caperton
Annabeth Carew
Julia Chambers
Dale Chase
M. Christian
Greta Christina
Valentina Cilescu
Rae Clark
NJ Cole
Christina Crooks
Julius Culdrose
Portia da Costa
Alan Daniels
Angraecus Daniels
Dena De Paulo
Vincent Diamond
Susan DiPlacido
Noelle Douglas-Brown
Hypnotic Dreams
Amanda Earl
Hank Edwards
Jeremy Edwards
Stephen Elliott
Madelynne Ellis
Justine Elyot
Aurelia T. Evans
Lucy Felthouse
Jesse Fox
I. G. Frederick
Simone Freier
Louis Friend
Polly Frost
William Gaius
Bob Genz
Shanna Germain
J. J. Giles
Lesley Gowan
K D Grace
K. D. Grace
Sacchi Green
Ernest Greene
Tamzin Hall
R. E. Hargrave
P. S. Haven
Trebor Healey
Vicki Hendricks
Scott Alexander Hess
Richard Higgins
Julie Hilden
E. M. Hillwood
Amber Hipple
William Holden
Senta Holland
David Holly
Michelle Houston
Debra Hyde
M. E. Hydra
Vina Jackson
Anneke Jacob
Maxim Jakubowski
Kay Jaybee
Ronan Jefferson
Amanda Jilling
SM Johnson
Raven Kaldera
J. P. Kansas
Kevin Killian
D. L. King
Catt Kingsgrave
Kate Kinsey
Geoffrey Knight
Varian Krylov
Vivienne LaFay
Teresa Lamai
Lisa Lane
Randall Lang
James Lear
Amber Lee
Nikko Lee
Tanith Lee
Annabeth Leong
James W. Lewis
Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Ashley Lister
Fiona Locke
Clare London
Scottie Lowe
Simon Lowrie
Catherine Lundoff
Michael T. Luongo
Jay Lygon
Helen E. H. Madden
Nancy Madore
Jodi Malpas
Jeff Mann
Alma Marceau
Sommer Marsden
Gwen Masters
Sean Meriwether
Bridget Midway
I. J. Miller
Madeline Moore
Lucy V. Morgan
Julia Morizawa
David C. Morrow
Walter Mosley
Peggy Munson
Zoe Myonas
Alicia Night Orchid
Craig Odanovich
Cassandra Park
Michael Perkins
Christopher Pierce
Lance Porter
Jack L. Pyke
Devyn Quinn
Cameron Quitain
R. V. Raiment
Shakir Rashaan
Jean Roberta
Paige Roberts
Sam Rosenthal
D. V. Sadero
C Sanchez-Garcia
Lisabet Sarai
R Paul Sardanas
R. Paul Sardanas
Elizabeth Schechter
Erica Scott
Kemble Scott
Mele Shaw
Simon Sheppard
Tom Simple
Talia Skye
Susan St. Aubin
Charlotte Stein
C. Stetson
Chancery Stone
Donna George Storey
Darcy Sweet
Rebecca Symmons
Mitzi Szereto
Cecilia Tan
Lily Temperley
Vinnie Tesla
Claire Thompson
Alexis Trevelyan
Alison Tyler
Gloria Vanderbilt
Vanessa Vaughn
Elissa Wald
Saskia Walker
Kimberly Warner-Cohen
Brian Whitney
Carrie Williams
Peter Wolkoff
T. Martin Woody
Beth Wylde
Daddy X
Lux Zakari
Fiona Zedde
As She's ToldAs She's Told
By: Anneke Jacob
Pink Flamingo
ISBN: 1934349992
December 2008





Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

I've often observed, both in my stories and in real life, that the most erotic moments derive from complementary fantasies. Exhibitionist and voyeur. Sheik and harem girl. Strict schoolmarm and naughty schoolboy. And of course, Dom and sub. You want to do something. Your partner wants to see/feel/taste/touch you as you do it. Each participant is aware of the other's desires. That awareness sets up an erotic circuit, each person's excitement amplifying the other's arousal.   

Anneke Jacob's remarkable novel As She's Told presents an extreme case of this sort of reciprocity. Her heroine, Maia, craves complete submission. She wants to be owned—the life of a slave with no choice at all. She has harbored these desires since childhood, struggling to make her way in the world, pretending to be a "normal" person, but knowing that only this total relinquishment of her will can make her feel whole and safe.

Anders is Maia's complement, a dominant who finds the games and play parties of the BDSM scene silly and frustrating. He wants complete control over a woman—the freedom to do anything at all to his slave, to require any service, to experiment with any sort of pain or bondage that appeals to him. He wants a woman to be his belonging, his chattel,"his own thing". When the story opens, though, he has almost given up hope of ever satisfying his deep-seated desire for total control.

Anders first encounters Maia in a BDSM chat room, where she asks, in response to a discussion about negotiation: "but doesn't that spoil it?" and later adds: "I mean if a sub chooses that means control. Contradiction in terms."  Anders hardly dares to believe that he might have finally found his counterpart, but when they meet in person at a "munch", mutual understanding and mutual attraction are both immediate.

The early chapters, when Maia and Anders first realize that their dreams may have come true, left me breathless. Despite their lightning attraction, Anders forces them to go slowly. Step by step, he leads Maia into a new world of unquestioning obedience. All does not go smoothly. Although she is desperate to please, Maia is also sloppy, irresponsible and occasionally rebellious. In addition, she is unrelentingly horny, and Anders rarely allows her any release for her sexual tension.

In each chapter, Anders introduces new torments or requires new adjustments. A waist chain is replaced by a tight corset, then labial piercings, then a chastity belt, then a bit and bridle and leather mitts that turn Maia into a dumb animal. In the early stages, he regularly checks with his would-be slave to make sure that she has not changed her mind. By the time they have been together for a year, however, she is truly his, and he stops asking her to describe her feelings or give him feedback.

 Anders is a perfectionist, a construction contractor with a passion for detail. As She's Told is almost obsessive in its descriptions of the equipment he designs to decorate, test and torture his slave. The book includes all the familiar trappings from the BDSM canon: the slave suspended and whipped; the slave plugged with dildos and vibrators but not allowed to come; the slave used as furniture; the slave eating out of a dog bowl; the slave harnessed to a cart and forced to trot and gallop. (Ms. Jacobs also dreams up some more unusual and imaginative kinks, but I won't spoil the impact by describing them here.)

 We've seen all these notions before, in Carrie's Story, in the Beauty Trilogy, in The Story of O. The difference is that in As She's Told, these are not treated as fantasy. Ms. Jacob is convincingly realistic in her depictions of what Anders does and how Maia feels. At some level, this book is still a fantasy, a thought experiment exploring how an extreme Master/slave relationship might develop, but the tone demands that the reader take the whole process seriously.

In fact, parts of this book are sufficiently extreme that they may be difficult for some readers. I found that I could not read more than a few chapters at a sitting because, despite my long-time fascination with BDSM, they made me uncomfortable.

This is not  (despite some horrified reviews on Amazon.com) a story of abuse. Anders does not negotiate, but he cares for his slave and makes sure that she will not be seriously injured.  When he offers his brother, cousin and several women friends free use of Maia's body, he makes sure that they use condoms, even for oral sex. He is giving Maia what she wants, and she is suitably grateful. Still, I wouldn't want Anders for my Master. He's too interested in stripping away Maia's pretensions of being human. He delights in turning her into an animal or even an inanimate object. Toward the end of the novel, Maia spends eight weeks without the use of her hands, sleeping in a stall, forbidden to speak, and worst of all, banished from her Master's bed. I can scarcely imagine this—it sounds too horrible to be endured (far worse than being forbidden to or unable to come). But then, I'm not Maia. Ms. Jacobs managed to make me believe that Maia could and would endure it, in order to please Anders.

As She's Told is not without its faults. It is a long book without much plot. Each chapter pushes new limits, but there's no climax and very little conflict. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Maia to rebel or for someone to be hurt or killed, for some revelation or resolution, but in fact nothing much happens. We're led to believe that this relationship will continue, satisfying both of the participants, as they live out their complementary fantasies together. I think that this is Ms. Jacob's point, to suggest that such a relationship could actually exist and that it could be healthy and mutually fulfilling.

I don't know whether I am completely convinced. People change. Maia is very young (she graduates from college in the course of the book) and Anders not much older. Furthermore, it seems that there must be an objective limit to the escalation Anders practices on Maia. My Master and I have debated the question of escalation, the continued pushing of limits. Clearly there must be some point when you can't push any further without doing serious physical harm. What happens then? Do the participants get bored or jaded? Or is it the case that a truly imaginative dominant will never run out of things to do with his slave?

 The very fact that I'm thinking about these issues, though, is a tribute to Ms. Jacob's skill. As She's Told is a rare item, a serious novel about BDSM relationships that does not sacrifice realism for titillation. I found it exciting, disturbing and challenging. I just bought a copy for my Master.

 

Editor’s note: As She’s Told was the winner of the 2008 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award.