cover image Beauty’s Kingdom

Beauty’s Kingdom

Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaur, read by multiple narrators. Penguin Audio, unabridged, 12 CDs, 15.5 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-1-61176-464-2

At the start of book four in Rice’s erotic Sleeping Beauty series (after 1985’s Beauty’s Release), Beauty and her husband Laurent return to the kingdom where they once served as sex slaves, to serve on the throne 20 years later. As ruler, Beauty adds new refinements and erotic delights, making the major change that all slavery must now be voluntary. Reader Cassandra Campbell provides Beauty with a lovely, melodious voice that draws the listener into her fairy tale world and epitomizes a queen who is at once wise, kind, sensual, and passionate. The various royals all sound appropriately elegant and cultured (though Dmitri, a Russian prince, inexplicably has an British accent). Reader Paul Boehmer also has a standout performance playing Bren, a young commoner who journeys to the kingdom in hopes of being accepted as a slave. He sounds adorably boyish, eager, hopeful, and awkward, and his chapter about “auditioning” for slavery is delightful to listen to. All the narrators are excellent and perfectly convey Rice’s style, which is lush, sensual, and explicit without being coarse. This new installment will thrill fans of Rice and the original series, and it should also draw in Fifty Shades of Grey fans in search of the latest mainstream erotica to enjoy. A Viking hardcover. (Apr.)