It is February, the month of romance. The coldest and shortest month of the year. The most dreaded month (by many singles) in the year. A chance for many corporations to make a killing as they pedal romance in the form of card and chocolates and jewelry to the chagrin of long-suffering single folks out there. But nothing says “in your face corporate romance” like being single, and chowing down chocolate nougats as you watch The Crow with Brandon Lee (or so I’ve been told) on Valentine’s Day. Dear, oh dear. It seems that I’ve detoured a wee bit … and I haven’t even started the blooming review as yet. Very well, on with it. Shall we?
So as we welcome Cupid and his bleedy misguided arrows, the Evil Parrot decided to do the unthinkable. Yes, it was something I claimed I would never ever, ever attempt … to read erotica. Gasp. Yes, the Evil Parrot decided to take one for the team, well for some decent reasons: a way to finally use the erotica category on my blog; it was written by Anne Rice, need I say more; and had to satisfy my curiosity as to why it appeals so much to the ladies (naughty, naughty, naughty … very naughty …tsk, tsk). I guess next I’ll be singing It’s Raining Men at our next after-work karaoke meet. Like bloody hell on that one.
Back in the early 80s, a time when there was no Web, Twitter, Facebook, Kardashians, and music that were eclectic though very listenable and delightful, Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure) had written a trilogy based on the Sleeping Beauty … with a slight BDSM twist. Let’s just say it made 50 Shades seemed like Sunday school required reading (though I would worry about such a “Sunday” school). Needless to say, I’ve read bits and pieces of this trilogy, and at the time I had yet the courage to completely read much less borrow such a book from the library. What can I say, I was a teen during the 80s, might have been a bit randy … and faced the possibility of embarrassing myself by standing/walking and looking like Robert Plant as he did “Piece of my love” back in the days, after daring to read those books from cover to cover. And yes, my wonderful memory has a tendency to loop things, many times at inappropriate moments. Not much has changed. Too much information? Aye, I think so too, probably destroyed more potential dates.
Beauty’s Kingdom continues from where the trilogy left off. Enter the kingdom of Bellavalten. A kingdom that thrives on what is called pleasure servitude. And yes, feel free to read as much as possible into that phrase, and you’ll probably be right. Imagine a world where carriages are drawn “ponies”: naked, toned human males or females bound with reins, bits and yes, saddles. Gardens filled with “slaves” willfully submitting to all desires. Where punishment is pleasure, and sometimes pleasure can be its own punishment. When the current queen, Queen Eleanor, is lost at sea, there is worry about what will happen with the kingdom of Bellavalten and its …ahem …way of life. Queen Beauty is sought, along with her king, Laurent, and brought to Bellavalten. Upon hearing about the arrival of Beauty to Bellavalten, many lords and ladies arrive from other lands to willingly enter into the wonderful world of pleasure servitude and most of the book is devoted to this titillating, tantalizing process that is written ever so sensually yet yielding the potential of literary weapons-grade Viagra. Along the way there is mention of the mysterious Prince Lexius, whom upon appearance near the end of the book basically turned the erotic world upside down (and might force a few blokes to question their sexuality … be warned, chaps). Anne Rice’s writing of all things sensual and erotic is very natural and doesn’t seem forced. Like many of writings about preternatural beings there is a subtle sensuality and an erotic undercurrent that does not go unnoticed. Her descriptions of feasts, and celebrations, are so vibrant that you long to be in this strange world taking part of the festivities, spankings and all (um .. or so some might think). In her writing of Beauty, the leash (pun possibly intended) is off where there is no subtlety and undercurrents and like all her books, aside from the whips, paddles, slap, tickles, and what’s not, the characters pull you in and for some reason you keep reading. Despite the fact you get weird stares by folks that read over your shoulder on the public transit. Or your sexuality questioned at some points. And the occasional winks from certain scary women. Note to self: if I must read erotica … again …(which may be never … again) … go e-reader.