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The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty: A Novel (Sleeping Beauty Trilogy) Paperback – May 1, 1999
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The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is not at all realistic, though why anyone would be looking for realism in a fairy tale/erotica combination that begins with the Prince breaking a spell of a 100-year sleep is beyond me. Everyone is impossibly beautiful, but so are all the princesses in Grimms' fairy tales and the principals in most erotica. I, for one, enjoy reading about a bunch of beautiful, exquisitely dressed people within impossibly opulent settings.
There certainly are a lot of spankings, nearly in every chapter. If you like that kind of thing, you won't be bored. If it's not your cup of tea, it might get old. I don't find it monotonous; maybe repetitive, but that's not necessarily bad. The Marquis de Sade is repetitive too; spanking is repetitive by nature. There's a lot going on in The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty besides spanking as well. Many of the principals are what would be considered underage in the present-day United States, and consent is questionable at best. Again, you're the judge of whether that would turn you on or off.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is at heart a Nouveau-Décadent work. I just reread Beardsley's Under the Hill and Rice's book is very reminiscent of that style. (By the way, most Décadent works are unrealistic and light on plot.) If you like Sade or Mirbeau, or certain passages in Petronius or Suetonius, you'll probably like this. If you don't like eroticized violence or overwrought language, or you want erotica with consensual, loving, adult partners of clearly defined sexual orientation, this is not for you.
Don't walk into the book thinking that you are getting some deep insight into the past or that there's any magic information that will tell you what the medieval socio-economic situation was, that's just ludicrous seeing as how it's fiction. Furthermore, why would you want to have some sort of deeper meaning when reading a fiction erotic novel?
If you enjoy Domination/submission with a BDSM twist that dances along the edges of punishment, torture, humiliation and raw sexuality then you will most likely be pleasantly surprised. This tale takes the basic story of Sleeping Beauty being woken by her prince charming and twists it into a whole new realm of (im)possibility, but it's the kind of situation that many people who lean towards non-vanilla tastes will find quite tantalizing.
Keep in mind that this book will put off anyone who does not see romance and sensuality in a power exchange. If you can't tolerate the idea that a woman, or man, may actually wish to submit to another person because they wish to please the Dominant then the concepts will probably seem too far fetched to keep your attention. Also, if you are put off by homo-erotic concepts then you'd best keep a distance. It's not for everyone, but for those open to the above mentioned "flavors" then the book will probably be entertaining at the very least.
As for the writing itself, I can't say that I had any major complaints. There were a few places where I felt things could have been either shortened or expounded upon, but ultimately I know I could not write a better book myself so I just let my mind follow the story and delight in the images that were conjured in my imagination. Many times there were shivers up and down my spine as I got lost in the imagery.
As a side note, I would write the same general review for the following two books in the series, though I do feel that the first was the best of the three in most regards. However, the third did sum up the whole story quite nicely and had a nice ending.
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