After Fifty Shades of Meh, Richardson-Reared Anne Rice is Putting the Bang in BDSM

New covers keep the bodice ripping under wraps.
I won't claim to understand much about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, though not because I have moral or personal objections to the subject matter. In fact, I'd posit that the key to world peace lies not in economic policy or cultural diplomacy so much as a few good (healthy, consensual) shags for all.

But, I do find offensive the idea of repackaged Twilight fan-fiction, sold as kink and featuring a female character who identifies as "submissive" based on rote gender stereotypes that are one-dimensional and contain little nuance. Not to mention that its author, E.L. James, is pulling down $1.34 million per-fucking-week, thanks to a protagonist whose most distinct personal identifier is the eloquent catch phrase, "Holy crap."

So, prompted by a friend's recent email regarding as much, I took to the intertubes where I quickly learned women have been commenting, blogging, raving about and re-discussing Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, a trifecta of kink written under a pen-name and initially published between '83 and '85.

Rice is, of course, best known as the original vampire lady (team Lestat, y'all!) who spent her formative years in North Texas at Richardson High before marrying her high school sweetheart in Denton.

As it turns out, Rice's camp just relaunched the series with a new preface and what publicist Liz Keenan calls updated jackets that speak "more to the new generation of erotica readers." In other words, you can read them without the risk of being kicked off a Southwest flight.

Rice's trilogy was written and thrived -- underground -- during the notoriously conservative 1980s, and the relaunch seems shrewd in its timeliness. Rolling off of James' success, but in bolder tones, Rice's erotica -- originally published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure -- hits a scene where women are reminded daily that frank and honest expressions of sexuality amount to moral turpitude of the basest degree. With regard to Fifty Shades of Grey, my friend - who is, in fact, a "mommy" - says that the "love story is sweet," but that she kept reading the "juicy" parts thinking, "been there, done that." If the relatively tame Fifty Shades of Grey series can be considered kink in this climate, the Roquelaure books are poised to foment revolution.

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I would have never thought a well known writer  who really knows her writing craft would lower herself to try desperately to appeal to the FSOG fans and compare her work to the one of a very amateur writer who can't even create her own characters therefore steals twilight's. Even worse. She's lying. Her books are nothing like the fifty shades books and most of the fifty fans who love the romance part have loathed sleeping beauty.

I might inform you something about the FSOG fans. 

They don't like BDSM because Anastasia doesn't like BDSM.
They love Christian Grey, if he, or someone as good as him is not the one performing the sex act then there's no point in having sex in the book.
They don't like Raping. 
They love romance and the romance part is more important than the erotica, the grammar the writing, the setting. 
They again love Christian Grey. 

And Sleeping beauty doesn't have a single character that is 5% of erotic and desirable as Christian.

 I decided to give Claiming of Sleeping beauty a try. The premise seemed promising:. But when I actually read the story, I was horrified. Not only is it written with pompous, flowery language and absolutely no style, but the plot is...well, judge for yourself....

Beauty is awakened from her slumber by not just a kiss, but brief and completely joyless humping by the Prince. The kingdom awakens and the Prince decides since he was the one who "saved" it, he should be able to keep Beauty as a prize. For some off reason the King agrees and off the Prince goes, Beauty in tow. It quickly becomes obvious that Beauty's role in the story will be on of sexual servitude. The Prince cares nothing for her; his only interest in her is to humiliate her as much a possible, beat her until her skin is chapped, and then rape her. Oh, yeah...and she's only fifteen years old in this story!

I like erotica as well as anyone, so long as it's well written. And I have no problem with BDSM...even a non consensual BDSM wouldn't bother me overly much. But this story is not erotica--it isn't even BDSM. It's sexual torture (something completely different). And it certainly isn't well written. It's one long description of beatings and torment after another, punctuated (briefly) by brutal sexual intercourse. There is very little description of the actual sex...but a lot of description of torture. For instance, the Prince, who swings boths ways, decides he is displeased with one of his male sex slaves. The punishment? He impales the poor lad on a stone phallus, leaving him there, hands bound, for the entire night. The book clearly describes the boy's discomfort and humiliation...and then tries, lackluster, to make us believe the boy somehow "enjoys" the torture as well. Hmm. Right.

If your idea of a sexy story is reading Jeffrey Dahmer's biography then you will probably love this book. However, if you are not a sexual sadist bent on enslaving and torturing people for your own physical pleasure, I suggest you leave this one alone.

I wish I hadn't fallen for that line. "If you liked FSOG you'll love Sleeping beauty" I want my money back.


The "Beauty" books rocked my world back in the '80s, when the worldwas still arguing over the author's real name (I remember an article inVogue, I think, positing that it was Joyce Carol Oates). Because of them, I began writing my own erotica. Because of them, I went on toauthor or co-author eleven books about alternative sexualities, and tofound a publishing company that published dozens more (many of which areflashing in my sidebar as I write this). If you've read "SM 101" or"The Bottoming Book," thank Anne Rice.And it's crucial here to note that the reason these books made me catch fire when their predecessors ("Story of O" and all the pseudo-Victoriana) had not done so was specifically because they were pansexual and because they wereextreme - like my fantasies. Rice had put on paper the sort of thing Idreamed about, and I never looked back.Janet W. HardyEditorial Director, Greenery Press

Pat Powers
Pat Powers

You fail to mention that the characters in the Sleeping Beauty books are teens, IIRC early teens, 12-15 years old, and that they are subjected to heavy BDSM and not particularly consensually. They're a whole different animal than the 50 Shades books and I doubt they will be all that popular in their re-release. The key to 50 Shades' success is that the books are in fact romances, at the center of them is a real romantic relationship between Ana and Christian. Nothing like that in the Sleeping Beauty books, though I do not think I was able to read much past the first one, as they were not at all to my tastes.


what's the difference between a 15 yr old and Anastasia Steel, a 21 yr old who is the most virginal virgin?.And plz don't say at least at 21 she's legal because it is a story. It isn't real life.Unless the teen is living under a rock or is saving their self for marriage. No teen today , is this blind sexually. Personally I found to 50 shades to  be the worse romance novel I've ever read. I personally read the Beauty Triology before I was of legal age and I enjoyed it emensly. Not because of the erotic scenes but because of the story. 50 doesn't even come close to a harlequin let alone an anne rice novel or twilight. It lacks in story quality and I personally don't know how it can even be considered BDSM. It is so vanilla to use a term from the book. They were not your taste because your vanilla and cannot open your eyes to something  "different" something you may not be into yourself but could open your eyes to see why others may be interested. Personally, BDSM would never be something that I would be into either but I would never poo poo on it for someone else. specially two consenting adults. Not everyone is vanilla like you and me yet you feel that you need to put your two cents in saying that 50 sades is about the love story between Christian and Ana. please! If that were so, its a very weak love story. You must not read novels very often or have no imagination at all whatsoever.

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