As a great fan of the Beauty and the Beast theme I was naturally lured to this book by Evangeline Anderson. Published by Ellora’s Cave it promised an evening of sexual intensity, exploration and domination. Pity it didn’t offer more than an exasperated sigh and an empty glass of wine.
The story begins when Giselle (our young and innocent heroine) steps down a dark and chilly staircase into the belly of medieval dungeons to meet her new master, the Beast. She enters an anteroom dominated by a four-poster bed and a pile of weathered bones when she hears a menacing voice from behind: “So you’re the latest victim. Welcome to the lair of the beast, my lady”. At this stage I believed that I will enjoy this short story, but… but I’m skipping ahead of myself.
Giselle is an orphan raised by her uncle, a gambler and a pervert. Her only way out of this predicament is to become a priestess of the Light on a far, far away world. Unfortunately instead of sending her to the convent, the uncle sells the unsuspecting girl to the whorehouse to pay off his gambling debts. There the owner of the establishment quickly asses her value and her fate is almost sealed when she overhears that on a distant planet a Lord seeks a companion. Quickly realising that serving one man is better than becoming the main attraction of the Red Lantern District she pleads her way through and quickly finds herself on a board of a starship heading towards the unknown. Upon reaching the castle she is promptly groomed and dressed for seduction in flowy gowns, barely covering her netter parts. She is locked in a dungeon to meet her new master, Tristan. The Beast. He is a victim of a curse and on the night of a full moon transforms into a hideous beast. Once transformed, he will devour anyone who will oppose him. Thus the only way to break the curse is for an innocent to show him the ultimate submission. At this stage I thought: “At last we are getting to the good part”. Pity, but no.
The encounter, even though promising sexual dominance and intensity is surprising stalled. The two characters just don’t work well together, there’s no passion, no connection. I suppose that by means of outweighing the fact that Giselle is a sheltered virgin with inspirations to become a priestess, we learn quite early in the book that she is no innocent at all: “Giselle had always been a curious girl and in her later teens she had discovered a stack of porn vids in the far back of the attic where no one ever went. Over the course of the next few years she had watched and rewatched every single one.” Quite an education and, I’m sorry to say, but judging from the way she is portrayed in the book one could be easily fooled. During the sexual act Giselle is submissive but indifferent and awkward. And as much as I understand that she’s frightened and inexperienced, her “education” would indicate that she discovered her sexuality quite early and was visually, even if not directly, exposed to sex. Otherwise why mention her secret indulgence at all? The Beast, even though half-crazed with lust is still caring and considerate. He exerts restraint and during the act enquiries about her well-being. How is that possible? Wasn’t he supposed to be this half-crazed monster devouring women on a slight show of deference?
However, what really made this story difficult to read was the confusing jumble of old-fashioned British English with medieval colloquialism and modern phrases. As much as I understand that putting words like “my lady” next to “cunt” and “freshly shaven pussy lips” might work in some cases, here it feels crass and uninspiring.
As you might have guessed I haven’t really enjoyed this story. However, I’ve learned in the meantime that the author has also released a SFR series entitled Brides of the Kindred. It sounds enticing and I’m really looking forward to dive into the world of space exploration, alien mating and the ultimate doom heading towards Earth.