A Is For… by Lila Dubois
Link to buy A is for… (BDSM Checklist Book 1)
Story Rating: 3 out of 5 paddles
Sting Factor (kink): 4 out of 5
A is for… is a 29,000 word electronic novella by Lila Dubois. The cover art is striking but some viewers might not get the capital A superimposed on the image of the buff man in leather pants for what it is–part of the title.
The Title itself appears to be modeled on Sue Grafton’s mystery series which starts with A is for Alibi. No doubt there will be an entire alphabet of novellas to come from this prolific author.
A reader will need to be familiar with the BDSM lexicon from the first sentence. This is not an adventure story where the characters experience elements of BDSM in the course of a traditional storyline, this is purely a work set within the lifestyle.
The author knows her craft. The prose is rich in sensory and authenticating detail. She also establishes her bona fides at familiarity with the BDSM lifestyle in a few simple sentences:
She stared at the top of her own breasts, exposed to just above the nipple by the black corset she wore. Matching stockings, panties and a garter belt completed her ensemble. Outside Las Palmas the lingerie would have been exciting and racy. Here it was the equivalent of a t-shirt and jeans.
The actual play and sex, which are synonymous in this novella, is incandescent. However, we are occasionally subjected to unrealistic plot devices such as a Dom being so close as to be able to hit the sub with a riding crop but the shadows being so deep in a day lit room that his face remains hidden. This contrivance is carried to an absurd and obvious conclusion.
Those in the lifestyle who believe strongly in informed consent will have problems with this: “I warn you,” Mistress Faith said, “the offer will not be made again. By remaining here you consent to the…activity.” Even though the author backpedals from this later in the work, this reviewer would counsel anyone who hears someone use such evasive language in real life to get up and walk out of the room. Don’t look back.
Although the novella contains nothing that isn’t BDSM it is a misleading portrayal of the lifestyle. Therefore the BDSM rating is a four and not a five.
The story here is rated as a three with a question mark because this is this reviewer’s first BDSM Book Reviews effort and where this novella falls in the spectrum of works presented on this site is unknown. In the general universe of storytelling this would be a two.
The gist of the plot is that the leaders of an exclusive BDSM community have decided that they had all become complacent and the remedy was to impose a program of experiences based on the alphabet. Being complacent is considered a bad thing because it diminished their feelings of superiority to the world at large. One even says “We are Gods.”
The characters are all personifications of roles and little else. The Uppercase folk are all paragons. They talk in high flown BDSM-speak as if translated from German.
Anna, the not quite eponymous lead character, is a submissive who never does anything other than experience those things a submissive should feel in a perfect BDSM world. All her angst and internal conflict is whether she meets the expectations of those placed over her. We never know much of anything else about her. She’s not a person, she’s an object. This may be the deliberate intent of the author, as the character does consider how she has left all the cares of the outside world behind.
The setting is a cliche of BDSM literature: An exclusive estate entirely dedicated to BDSM. This one is called “Las Palmas” and is set in Southern California.
As for the action, nothing ever happens in the BDSM scenes that isn’t perfect or unplanned. It’s “Hollywood BDSM” at its worst (or best if that’s what the reader is looking for.)
Reviewed by Ted