Beauty's Release by A.N. Roquelaure
Disclaimer: I read the 1st book on a dare and the 2nd one out of curiosity - you can read my status updates and my reviews here and here, if you're interested. I have no plausible excuse for reading this last book. I just had to read it. After everything I had to endure during the previous books, I deserved to know Beauty's ultimate fate. Sure, I could have simply skipped ahead and read the last pages, but I made myself go through the whole enchilada - and that's why I said I had no plausible excuse to justify my reading it, LOL. Once again, I'm not rating this read for the same reasons I stated in my reviews on the previous books.
Since this is the last book in the series, I can't do what I did previously and copy/paste the plot summary usually given at the beginning of the next book. Considering that my poor brain cells are still pretty damaged, I'm taking the easy path (again) and copying/pasting/editing the plot summary I found on Wikipedia:
Beauty's Release begins with the captured royal slaves' journey on the ship to the Sultan's realm, where they are to become mute sex toys or living sculptures to decorate the Sultan's gardens, bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, doors, etc. After their arrival at the exotic land of the Sultan, the slaves are examined by Lexius, the Sultan's steward, and separated.
Beauty is taken to the harem, where she meets the Sultan's wives and experiences a new level of sexual humiliation, pleasure and pain. She is then greeted by Innana, one of the Sultan's wives, with whom she quickly falls in love.
Laurent and Tristan are taken to the Sultan's garden where they are to be mounted on crosses and whipped. But Laurent defies Lexius and the Sultan's steward takes Laurent to his private rooms, intent on giving a lesson to the rebellious slave. However, Laurent overpowers him and rapes him. Both are surprised to discover how much they enjoyed the experience, but that doesn't change the status quo... much. In public, Lexius is the powerful and unbending Master while Laurent is nothing but one of the Sultan's slaves. However, in private, Laurent and Tristan begin to train Lexius as their secret slave.
When Beauty, Tristan and Laurent start to feel comfortable and happy with their new lives, a rescue team led by the Captain of the Guard and Nicolas, Tristan's former Master and lover, arrives to take them back to the Queen's Court. Laurent convinces the Captain to take Lexius too, much to the Sultan's steward's delight. Near the end of their voyage, the Captain tells Beauty that she is to be released from the servitude because of her parents' demands and, to her great dismay, she is sent back home.
Back at the castle, the Queen agrees to take Lexius as her slave and sentences Laurent and Tristan to the Village stable, where they are made to live and work as ponies. With time, Laurent and Tristan find peace and happiness in the simple pony life, and Tristan falls in love with Nicolas again. However, Laurent's life takes another unexpected turn when his father dies: he is automatically released from the servitude and summoned back to his kingdom to become the new ruler. As every king needs to marry and produce heirs, Laurent goes in search of a princess to become his Queen. He wants a perfectly trained slave who will be more than happy to bow to her Master (aka him). Luckily for him, he just happens to know one that's available and eager: his precious Beauty. And as they ride off into the forest towards the future, they know they will live happily ever after - as the fairy tales say.
There! That's the whole plot, so you don't have to read the book anymore - unless you want to know in detail all the sexual antics that happens in this book, LOL.
Overall, I think this book was "better" than the previous in the series. The writing still sounded too simplistic and juvenile, which was odd considering the content of the book, but the characters were more intriguing. By "characters", I meant Laurent and Lexius, because Beauty was still a slutty moron and Tristan, who had caught my attention in Beauty's Punishment, was shoved into the background and had little to say. Laurent and Lexius' role reversal was interesting to follow, especially Laurent's easy ability to switch from Dom to sub and vice versa. He confused the crap out of me, but he was by far the most interesting character in the book. That doesn't mean that he was a fully-developed, 3-dimensional character, but he was one step above from being a cardboard figure.
As it happened in the previous books, secondary characters appeared and disappeared without notice and explanation. Princess Elena, Princess Rosalynd and Prince Dmitri, who were kidnapped along with Beauty, Tristan and Laurent, were sent to be and do only the gods know what as soon as they reached the Sultan's land and were quickly forgotten. What happened to them? Quite frankly, I didn't know and didn't care.
What about the sex scenes? I've got to address that, since this is an erotic book, right? Well, they were completely out of my comfort zone, but they weren't boring like the ones in The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. They were scarier than the ones in Beauty's Punishment, though. I don't feel like revisiting them in this review, so take a look at my status updates to know what I'm talking about. *shudders*
The HEA was unexpected and as random as the whole story. Laurent and Beauty had sex only once during the whole series! Considering the fact that they pretty much humped (and were humped by) everyone and everything in their vicinity, their "one-night stand" turning into everlasting love was a shock. True love comes when you least expect it, I guess.
Among all that "craziness", there were glimpses of a deeper insight into the characters' psych, but they were too few and far between to really amount to something. I wish they had been better explored, but that would have been too much to ask from an erotic book.
So, now that all is said and done, what's my final verdict? Did I enjoy reading this series? Hell no! Do I regret reading it? No. It was an experience and, as that, it was interesting. Am I interested in trying other erotic books? Not really.
And just to show that I haven't been psychologically damaged by this series, here's a nice pic to close my review:
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