Disclaimer: I read the 1st book on a dare and even though I didn't particularly enjoy the experience - you can read my status updates and my review here, if you're curious - I got sucked into reading the next book. Once again, I'm not rating this read because I don't think it would be fair to "hurt" this book's average rating considering I knew I wasn't going to like it (I'm not a fan of pure erotica and I'm no expert in BDSM).
Just to get started, here's the plot summary given at the beginning of the 3rd book, Beauty's Release:
Sold on the village auction block at dawn, Tristan soon found himself tethered and harnessed to the carriage of a handsome young Master, Nicolas, the Queen's Chronicler. And Beauty, put to work in Mistress Lockley's Inn, became the plaything of the Captain of the Guard, the Inn's chief lodger.
But within days of their separation and sale, Beauty and Tristan were both seduced by the iron discipline of the village. The sweet terrors of the Place of Public Punishment, the Punishment Shop, the Farm and the Stable, the Soldiers' Night at the inn enflamed them as well as frightening them, causing them to forget their former selves utterly.
Even the harsh judgment of the runaway slave, Prince Laurent, his body bound to a Punishment Cross for exhibit, only served to tantalize them.
And, as Beauty gloried in chastisements at last equal to her spirit, Tristan became hopelessly enamored of his new Master.
Yet no sooner had the pair met and confided their shameless happiness to each other than a band of powerful enemy soldiers attacked the village, kidnapping Beauty and Tristan along with other choice slaves, including Prince Laurent, to be taken by sea to the land of a new Master, the Sultan.
Within hours of the attack, the stolen Princes and Princesses learned that they would not be ransomed. By agreement between their sovereigns, they had been condemned to serve in the Sultan's palace until such time as they would be safely returned to their Queen for further judgment.
Kept in long, rectangular golden cages in the hold of the Sultan's ship, the slaves accepted their new destiny.
As I started to read this book, I braced myself to be utterly shocked because I'd been told that the sexual shenanigans in this book were "worse" than the ones featured in the 1st book. Well, forewarned is forearmed. I have to say that the 1st 1/3 of the story was quite "easy" to read... I mean, Beauty and Tristan were subjected to all kinds of kinky, painful and humitliating sex antics, but there was nothing new there as I'd seen it all before in the 1st book - in one word, it was "only" spanking, with a few variations to make things "interesting". *rolls eyeballs* But then, ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, Tristan and I were introduced to those unbelievably thick leather phalluses with horsetails and it was the end of the world as we knew it! I almost died on the spot, but Tristan endured it with strength and stoicism, becoming a better
Strangely enough, that was the point where my feelings about this book changed - for better or worse, that's yet to be determined. I started to care for Tristan and I couldn't keep reading his scenes with the same sense of aloofness I still dedicated to Beauty's scenes. No, that didn't happen because I like ponies - I actually think those genetically engineered creatures are freak shows. It was Ms. Rice's writing: she chose to write Tristan's scenes in 1st person POV, and that made me connect with him in a way that I never did with Beauty. When it came to Beauty's scenes, I still thought that Ms. Rice's writing was kind of juvenile, wordy and redundant; on the other hand, Tristan's scenes were more interesting and engaging.
Based on what I said so far, you may have guessed that Beauty wasn't exactly the main character in the book. Sure, she was most likely featured in the same number of pages as Tristan, but she was still the same airheaded sub in search of her Dom introduced in the 1st book and I was bored to tears by her scenes. She was spanked by the auctioner, her new Mistress Mrs. Lockley, her Mistress' other slaves, the Captain of the Guard, his soldiers, the Master at the Place of Public Punishment, the commoners... I must be forgetting someone, but does it matter? Gaaah! Not even her 1st gang bang got a rise out of me. I believe I yawned through the whole "ordeal". (Before you start throwing rotten tomatoes at me, let me tell you that she enjoyed the whole thing, so I'm not making fun of gang rape.) Now, what did get a rise out of me was Beauty's scene with her Mistress' cat... That was gross!!! I cringed, I gagged, I puked - and I had to take a nice, cleansing shower afterwards. *shudders*
As a whole, this read was uneven to me. The 1st half was quite boring, with one or two shocking scenes to jolt me awake, but the 2nd half was more engaging - and difficult to read - due to my "attachment" to Tristan. I didn't enjoy this read, but it was interesting on a psychological level as it gave me a small insight into what the BDSM lifestyle is about.
Am I going to read the 3rd and final book? Absolutely! In for a penny, in for a pound. Plus, I want to know who Beauty's
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