Decades before Christian Grey was dominating the collective imagination - and Anastasia Steele - Anne Rice wrote a BDSM trilogy under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. Using the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty as her starting point, Rice created a mythical kingdom where humiliation and sexual slavery were utilized to create a person "greatly enhanced in wisdom and beauty."
In The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty Series #1) the Prince rouses Sleeping Beauty from her deep slumber not with a sweet kiss, but by cutting her clothes away with a sword and deflowering her. He takes her from her resignedly understanding parents to the court of his mother, the Queen, where sexual dominance plays out in a variety of combinations and punishments. There is pain, and there is pleasure.
When these books were first published, the enjoyment of a BDSM novel was something to be kept hidden, secret. Rice didn't write under her own name, though, in the thoughtful preface to the new edition of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Rice says it was as much for her artistic freedom as it was for anything else. Her trilogy is "about surrender, the fun of imagining you have no choice but to enjoy sex. Beauty's slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating." In the post-Fifty Shades of Grey era, reading erotica is no longer a frowned-upon endeavor. We all love these books now, and the odyssey of Rice's Beauty is available in beautiful new packaging, to be enjoyed by an entirely new audience.
Beauty's Punishment (Sleeping Beauty Series #2)finds Beauty living with the consequences of her illicit affair with a fellow slave; she's sold into a new world of
dominance and submission. along with fellow sumbissives Her journey concludes in Beauty's Release (Sleeping Beauty Series #3) , and it will be up to you to decide the meaning of her happily ever after.
The obvious benefit from the runaway train of popularity for a book like Fifty Shades is the availability of similar books. There has been an infusion of thought-provoking, sexy BDSM stories in the market, and thanks to ereaders, these can be kept hidden away from view if you choose; one such e-book not to be missed is Delphine Dryden's The Theory of Attraction . This is an example, as with the Rice trilogy, of how good writing combined with a sensual subject matter can result in a read that is more than the sum of its sexy parts. Erotic stories don't necessarily mean an absence of emotion, and the relationship portrayed here, between a socially awkward man named Ivan and his uninitiated-in-the-world-of-domination neighbor, Camilla, is as seductive as the in-control persona Ivan reveals in the bedroom.
And there's more! For my money the true heir to the Fifty Shades crown is Sylvia Day's Bared to You (Crossfire Series #1) . Sylvia's erotic writing is also available in an anthology called Hot in Handcuffs, along with stories by Shayla Black and Shiloh Walker, two writers whose sensuality has always been a hallmark of their work. Another anthology to try is Cherished; this contains novellas by Maya Banks and Lauren Dane. If you don't know these writers and are new devotees to erotica, add their names to your must-buy list.
Until next week, happy reading!
Melanie Murray is a writer and editor, and the moderator of Romantic Reads, BN.com's all-romance, all-the-time community forum. You can follow her on Twitter at @Melanie_Murray and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.
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