Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Taming the Beast by Evangeline Anderson

TITLE: Taming the Beast
AUTHOR: Evangeline Anderson
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 18k)
GENRE: Futuristic erotic romance
COST: $4.50

In this futuristic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the virginal Gisella is all set to join the convent, desperate to escape her lecherous uncle’s attentions. She’s shocked to discover he’s sold her to a whorehouse instead, but when an offer to earn her freedom servicing only one man instead of hundreds arises, Gisella jumps at the opportunity, even if none of the other women sent to this particular client have ever returned…

Evangeline Anderson is one of my guilty pleasures. When I buy one of her stories, I know I’m doing it deliberately either for the pure escapism she often provides, or for the hotness of the erotic set-up, because a good part of the time, the woman really knows how to write a sex scene that works for me. So I bought this, expecting more of the same, because the idea as a futuristic retelling of Beauty and the Beast is hardly original. Unfortunately, this story never worked on either one of the levels I expect from Anderson.

It starts out all right. Virginal Gisella is off to the convent, fending off the icky advances of her uncle, knowing she’s giving up any chance of a sexual future, but willing to trade it away just to get away from him. She’s sweet enough, and her alarm is real when she finds herself dumped in the middle of the red light district instead of the spaceport. I was even on board for the ride while she overhears someone come in, offering to purchase a girl for one night’s worth of work, one night that will pay off her uncle’s debt (the one her servitude is meant to clear). It makes sense that in her panic, she’d think that one man/one night is a hell of a lot better than hundreds over the next ten months, with potential multiple partners at the same time. The small detail that none of the other girls ever came back slips to the wayside, until she’s already there, and it’s too late to back out.

Where the story falls apart for me is once the beast gets introduced. It’s a cursed prince named Tristan, whose only hope to be free is if a prophecy is fulfilled. The prophecy is about a woman who’s both virgin and whore, who happens to come from the same planet Gisella does. Sound familiar to anyone? It wouldn’t be so bad, except at this point, the story lapses into a whole lot of telling instead of showing, as Tristan describes the curse, Gisella talks about herself, yadda yadda yadda. It’s true to the fairy tale nature/style, but it made for a really boring read. Even the sex was boring.

Oh, and speaking of the sex. If I’d realized she actually had to have sex with him in animal form (ok, he’s kind of half-man/half bull-beast), I probably would have passed. I’m not into the shifter sex. At all. Especially when… great Goddess, his cock was huge. It stood between his legs like a club, a river of pre-cum dripping from the broad head. Tristan was bigger than her wrist before he changed into the beast. Can you imagine something like that penetrating you without shuddering or cringing? I can’t. This is probably my fault because the blurb did say she had to submit completely to the beast, but I was holding out that maybe he just exhibited characteristics of the beast, not that he actually had horns. I guess I’ve learned my lesson.


7/10 – Big chunks of telling not showing that’s true to the fairy tale nature but makes for a kind of boring read


4/10 – I never fell for the mix of vulgar and refinement he’s meant to convey


6/10 – Better than the hero, but the virgin whore motif was played too thickly for my taste

Entertainment value

4/10 – Never worked on either one of the levels I bought it for – escapism and hotness

World building

6/10 – Some nice details, but there are too many settings for such a short story



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