So first let me apologize for being out of action for a while. I've been busy with work and traveling and a host of other things but has been wonderfully interrupted by a random opportunity. I follow Anne Rice on Facebook and saw a post she had shared about looking for reviewers who were among other things actually involved in BDSM. I saw it several hours after it was posted so I wasn't sure if I was going to even be considered. I got an email back shortly afterwards that I would be getting a copy and it was sent to me in enough time to take on my trip a few weeks ago.
I have to say this as well. I didn't read the rest of the Beauty series before reading this novel so there was some back story that I was missing when I began. As I was reading it I wondered why I hadn't read them before and then I remembered why. I was in love with Anne Rice's witches and vampires and the worlds they moved in. My understanding of BDSM was minimal at best and I literally couldn't understand the motivations to serve. Hot sexual encounters that push buttons a total check. The mental devotion not at all registering for me at that moment which had to be I would be fifteen years ago. Having taken the journey that I have been on since then reading this book was much like reading Diary of a Submissive for me. Which in short means it felt like coming home in a lot of ways.
Having never read the original Beauty trilogy I was worried I'd be at some significant loss but this book felt like a standalone or rebirth which I guess it was in actuality. If you haven't read Shakespeare or classic literature in a while the writing will take a short while to get used to but it was delightful honestly (or you think Twilight or Fifty Shades was well written--you should probably skip this actually if you think that) . I quickly became invested in Beauty and her king Laurent and wanted to see what this adventure would do to their explicitly understood power dynamic. Without giving anything away I can say that I was thrilled with both of their development and exploration and found myself nodding along often as Beauty struggled to become the monarch she thought the kingdom needed. Laurent was the stuff of submissive girl dreams all charming and big and quietly dominating without needing to be demanding.
They are supported by a rich cast who I'm sure featured heavily in the original series save Eva who seems to have blossomed on these pages due to her age and interests. The former Princes and Princesses returning to explore service and domination was slightly amazing. I can say there was a fair bit of envy thinking there would or could be a place where my only thought needed to be how can I be pleasing today. Those brief moments I have been able to indulge such thoughts have been freeing and wonderful and what can help push me through the moments that I can't. And in this kingdom the phrase anything goes would have been fitting albeit out of step with how they would speak. Dmitri, Alexi, Tristan and all the others explored whatever urges and pleasures that entertained them so if you aren't accustomed to reading about homosexual trysts you will likely be shocked. All those things that were below the surface in the Vampire tales bursts free and is abundantly appreciated within these pages.
The freedom of Beauty's Kingdom made me envious if I didn't mention that earlier. The doubts, the encouragement, the love, the lust, the absolute abandonment of the trappings of the "real world" made me sad when it came to a close. But for all the details and exploring of the physical body the thing that I appreciated the most about this book was what I saw as the mental side of BDSM. The psychological connection of submissive to dominant can be a unique and powerful thing. There are those, much as is described in the book, that are just naturally submissive and can easily and readily submit to anyone. I have never had that experience so reading the tales of those that had to be broken or had to be given to the right kind of dominant force made me smile, smirk and my bottom smart in sympathetic wonder. For me, and many others, if there is no mental connection there can be no submission. Watching Stefan transform under the right leadership was amazing and reaffirmed for me at least that love alone can't bend my will. If you managed to garner my service to you then the love is overflowing and overwhelming as it was with Stefan and Becca and many others.
Even though it's a touch over 350 pages the book felt like a quick read and as I mentioned I was deeply entangled with all of the characters as they progressed through the book. And even though some things are not at all unexpected as they unfold Anne Rice still manages to toss in a curve ball or ten as you work through everyone's stories. The end was triumphant but I would love to know what happened to a few main characters after this story came to an end. Some may say this is just as unrealistic as Fifty Shades but it's really not. The motivations and possibilities seem quite real in Beauty's Kingdom. And while both are somewhat dependent on having enough money to provide privacy and luxury the difference is it's not one long mind fuck. The characters understanding of why they want to serve or dominate are clear and more in line with my experience in D/s relationships well save being naked all day every day. That would totally rock though. Their trepidation and appreciation of each other is obvious and genuine. It's a love story that blends BDSM into itself easily not horribly written romance with a dash of D/s sex to make things interesting. There is PLENTY of sex don't get me wrong but it seems more germane to the goings on of the kingdom and the relationships and when D/s is involved in those acts it doesn't make me cringe.
All in all I can say it was a very pleasant read. It made me think of why I submit and what I would do if someone invited me into a world that I could totally surrender. I'm almost positive they'd send me home or spank me constantly because I think way too much and need intellectual challenges or I become a pain. But maybe they could use that to the benefit of those in charge. Either way, if you want to take a mental escape and explore a bit of the BDSM trappings in a well written escapade you should journey off to Beauty's Kingdom.