Review by Joel Kreissman
Okay, this was a short but tough one.
Leather Ballad by Alex Constance follows college-age vole Amethyst as she explores her sexuality as a submissive, with the help of Helga, a porcine biker who’s older than her own mother.
The prologue jumps straight in with Amethyst visiting Helga’s house for a BDSM scene, no dancing around the issue; they know what they want. Instead, most of the drama stems from Amy’s friends and family misinterpreting the nature of her relationship with Helga and trying to “protect” her, somewhat understandably. However, the half of the book between the confrontation with Amy’s roommate and the one with her mother consists mostly of self-contained chapters where the protagonists get into one kinky situation or another. It feels like the book was originally written as a bunch of standalone short stories rather than a novel.
I’ll admit it’s good at showing the proper sane, sane, and consensual procedures, and how they can still cause confusion with people who aren’t fully “in the know” on BDSM. Certain other works of erotic fiction make BDSM look like abuse (*cough* 50 Shades *cough*) but Leather Ballad is able to show a healthy S/M relationship that’s still extreme enough people mistake it for abusive. It was also a bit creative in how it makes the use of familial terms of affection in sex not just a joke, or an indicator of Amy’s mommy issues, but part of the plot’s resolution.
For a hardcore BDSM collection of short stories that knows the difference between SSC and abuse, look up Alex Constance on Smashwords.