As She's Told Paperback – Dec 17 2008
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is about the relationship between Anders and Maia, two people in the Toronto bdsm scene. Anders wants total control, to own his woman completely, human chattel...Maia desperately wants to be owned and controlled and told what to do. Neither one wants games, they want total permanent power exchange, with no room for choices or the word "no." The pair find a perfect match in one another, and so begins a fascinating and incredibly erotic love story. Ms. Jacob skillfully leads Anders & Maia (and the reader) along a continuum from the heady beginnings of new love, to the deepening of the relationship, with all the risk and new explorations, to...well...the complete and utter submission of Maia as Anders' slave.
But what makes this better than 98% of the Master/slave bdsm erotica out there, is that Maia and Anders truly share a love relationship...she never wavers in her desperate desire to please him, she revels in the (sometimes cringeworthy) things he does to her, and for his part, he never compromises her well-being or safety, in fact, the care he takes of her while more or less breaking her down into an animal is absolutely breathtaking (and totally sexy. I am absolutely in love with Anders! Femsubs, prepare to lose your heart to him if you read this book!!)
Aside from the great story, the great characters, the ridiculously hot sex, the insidiously evil-sexy punishments Anders comes up with, the fascinating development of what becomes quite a hard-core M/s relationship...aside from ALL THAT, this book is also exquisitely written. This is not like those other books that sound like they were written by someone with a third grade education or some perv sitting in a prison somewhere. Ms. Jacob obviously knows her way around the art of writing, so there's no distraction of bad writing and awful punctuation to draw you away from the story as it unfolds.
I just can't recommend this highly enough. If you want true, enthralling, realistic, and envelope-pushing bdsm erotica that is written exceedingly well, get this book. It deserves a place among the great hallmarks of the genre...the Story of O... Carrie's Story and Safe Word...if you loved those, this one is even better!!
Anders comes from a large and lively Danish family. He's an active dominant in the local BDSM scene, but his past relationships just haven't quite fit the bill. He is tired of playing games, of role-playing at D/s with only half-hearted submissives.
From a very young age, Maia has had unusual fantasies. As a small child, she would play at being kept in a cage and dreamt longingly of being forced to submit to her captor. As she grew older, "normal" relationships -- even normal D/s relationships -- never seemed to quite meet her needs. She was often out of place in social settings -- a loner lurking as a "shadow" on the periphery.
When an exchange in an online chatroom brings the two together, it seems as if they each may have found their match in life. But will Anders' desire to own someone, to make someone his slave, his "human chattel," be too much for Maia to handle? Or will Maia's need and desire to be wholly owned overcome the odds and endure?
As She's Told is at once a fascinating and disturbing glimpse into what becomes an absolute, one-sided, total power exchange. I found the book wholly captivating and, despite it's length, had a really hard time putting it down.
I truly felt for Maia. I felt for her as a social outcast and as someone who desires something so totally beyond the mainstream that it is hard for her to even admit to herself that it's what she truly wants. Not to mention to hope to ever actually find someone to give her what she wants. I connected with her very much in this way, but despite this, Maia repeatedly surprises and shocks me throughout the book. I found myself continually surprised at how committed she was to becoming a slave, no matter the extremity of the situations Anders presented her. She jumps in with both feet almost immediately and remains unwavering in her resolve to submit to Anders desires throughout -- definitely a stronger woman than I. She endures unbelievable pain and humiliation, isolation and subjugation at Anders hands. In Maia's mind, it truly is about relinquishing her self, wholly and without reservation, about overcoming her own mind; she is no longer a thinking person or soul, but rather a tool, a body existing solely to perform tasks, reduced to base, animalistic functions.
This concept just blows my mind in general. It makes me sad for Maia. She's a beautiful, intelligent person who has great value to society, yet she is essentially committing psychological suicide when she turns herself over to Anders. And it makes me really dislike Anders for being so sadistic that he essentially snuffs the life out of Maia in the process of owning her, and doesn't bat an eyelash over it. But it is, after all, what she wants, and to each his or her own. It just seems so tragic to me.
I was saddened that Anders acknowledges that he enjoys conversing with Maia and that she provides great insights to help him attain his goals outside their relationship, yet he is satisfied with forcing her to silence for eight long weeks, driving Maia to a point where she has difficulty conversing at all once back in the real world. I was disturbed that Anders intentionally kept Maia at such a state of arousal without ever allowing her to obtain release, that she is literally driven crazy with need to a point of shamelessly humping anything and everything in sight as would a dog. I was especially bothered by the point when Anders begins to bring other people into their relationship, and forces Maia to service his female friends, despite the fact that the females treat Maia horribly and she has an obvious distaste for female domination. In the end, of all the crazy mindplay in this book, this seems to me to be the true turning point for their relationship -- the point where Anders has truly dominated Maia -- because he has controlled her to the point where she learns to perform even in a situation that is markedly against the grain of her moral and personal fiber.
Tragedy and depravity aside, the M/s relationship that develops between Anders and Maia is beautiful, sexy and strangely alluring. As with many of my recent reviews, the sexual interplay in this book is not for the faint of heart or BDSM-averse reader, but damn, there are some really great scenes. And the contraptions! Oh. My. God. The devices that Anders creates for Maia are enough to make any bondage fanatic go totally weak in the knees -- Anneke Jacob's imagination here is truly remarkable.
Surprisingly, the only thing about this book that I felt was a bit gratuitous and out of place (verging on annoying at times) is the constant political thread of homelessness and insufficient public housing in the world. I gather that it is a subplot to add depth and nuance to Anders' character, but it tended toward preachy and really didn't make sense to me as something that moved the story along.
All in all, however, Jakob's writing throughout is solid and complex; the emotional connection she inspires is striking. Definitely worth the effort.
To call their desire to engage in what is sometimes called a total power exchange (but not by them since the whole idea is not an exchange, but rather a surrender) a fantasy is to belittle their total commitment to their agreement. The whole point for both characters is that the relationship be real and not some `scene' or parlor game.
Maia, the female character undergoes a total objectification and dehumanization. The man, Anders, assumes control over all of her exterior and interior life. He tells her that his goal is to have her feelings and conscious thoughts to be entirely of his creation. Maia undergoes severe corporal punishment and intense disciplines, including whippings, restraints, sensory deprivation. She fears and abhors the pain she suffers and does her best, through complete and total obedience, to avoid it. But Anders' will to dominate is so strong, his demands so meticulous, that it is impossible to comply, giving Anders the justification to inflict the punishments that he so much desires to impose. Not that he needs it, for he does not hesitate to inflict any hardship on Maia that will give him pleasure. Maia's joy is not in her suffering per se, but in submitting to her master's will and fulfilling her duty to give pleasure to her master in any, and I mean any, way that he desires.
The novel poses some interesting questions. Maia insists that she is a feminist, at least in the sense that she does not subscribe to the rights of males generally to dominate and rule women. She says that she has agreed to be dominated, but only by one man. She struggles with her `vanilla' mores, what society has taught her that she should want, against the actualization of her obsession and the sexual thrill she gets from her submission and shame at her humiliations. Anders worries that he be deemed no more than an abuser by society. I would guess that everyone who has indulged in bdsm, either on a personal level or in a rich fantasy life, has been confronted by the question of how society in general, their friends, their family, their coworkers, would react "if they only knew". Most would find abhorrent an actual act of violence committed against a person in anger and without consent. Slavery is something that in the real world is bad. And yet many people relish the fantasy of it. Maia and Anders struggle with these issues too, keeping their relationship secret from all but a very close group of friends.
As She's Told is a love story. But that love is based on the partner's ability to create and/or live in a world that allows both of them to satisfy their most basic cravings. In the real world, I doubt that anyone could undergo the extremes that Maia suffers without permanent psychological and physical damage. And anyone with the compulsion to control and objectify another to the extreme that Anders does to Maia would be deemed as bordering on psychotic. But that is the point. Maia and Anders are not real. They are the written fulfillment of a fantasy of the author's, a `what if' carried to its ultimate and natural conclusion.
If you can withstand the explicit depictions of cruelty, you will be taken on a journey into a world that you know not of. How many of us can claim, as Maia and Anders can, that we have found total fulfillment in life, that our partners suit us to a `T'? Think of the enrichment to your life if that could be found. That is what Maia and Anders have achieved for themselves.
1) I have read more than just a few BDSM novels and this one is just riduculously over the top. The torture and punishments are absolutely disgusting and unnecessary.
2) There is absolutely no love between the characters and if there is, I certainly couldn't feel it.
3) As a sub in a long-term relationship, there is no way I could begin to fathom this as a healthy D/s TPE relationship. I really don't think I could classify Anders as sane and to call him controlling (even for a dom) is an understatement. He is sadistic to his very core and I never once felt a hint of love towards Maia; just smug satisfaction in knowing that he owned her.
4) This book (as another review mentioned) is NOT by ANY means an accurate portrayal of a good and healthy TPE relationship. It's because of stuff like this that the public views us as freaks and mentally unstable.
5) The story just got boring and repetetive. It was the same old thing, just a different day and a different punsihment. The story line just kind of disappeared and it became a long line of punishments blurring together. I got half way through and couldn't even finish it. I skipped to the last couple of chapters and quickly realized I hadn't missed a single thing. It seems as though a lot of it was written just to make the book longer.
This book was a huge waste of money and I would not recommend it to anyone.
This one will not be reread. There was NO love here. Yes, he made sure she was not damaged, but cruelly denied her releases though she worshipped him. She needed therapy, not a sadist. And his needs are that devious? Does he really want a pet so lost she's not even as smart as a horse? Seriously? I felt bad for Maia once he started with the dog / pony stuff because it was not a game of pleasure to either of them - it was just twisted. And I find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone would put up with that 24/7. I agree with one reviewer who talked of "stockholm syndrome" - definately fits. The last bit was so odd, he is so proud of how smart she is, yet the 2nd part of the book, he does nothing but take that away from her, and she gives it away. Can you imagine how pitiful she'll be emotionally after 5 years, or 10? And mostly lives in fear, so won't live that long I imagine. I truly hope for humanity that these type folks do not reproduce at all. Lose that gene out of the pool.
I'd give this 1 star, but truly the author is to be applauded for writing talent.