Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Briar Rose by Lila Dubois

TITLE: Briar Rose
AUTHOR: Lila Dubois
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 33k)
GENRE: Fantasy erotic romance
COST: $5.50

Princess Aurora is blessed with beauty, grace, and obedience at birth, but when the fourth fairy recognizes the curse obedience really is, she offers a gift that will break it. Until she turns eleven, Aurora is the perfect princess, and perfectly dull, too. Once she has free will, however, she seeks out her own happiness, even when it means falling in love with a woodsman instead of the prince she’s been betrothed to since birth…

One of these days, I’ll learn that breaking my own rules is never a good idea. See, I love the cover on this book. I’d heard good things about the author. I trust Liquid Silver. So I bought it without actually reading the excerpt. If I had, I would never, ever have handed over money for it.

If it sounds like a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, it is. It very closely resembles the Disney cartoon, except with a lot more sex. Prince Phillip even talks to his horse like he did in the movie. It’s kind of pointless for me to summarize. It doesn’t veer off the story everybody knows very much. There’s a princess, yadda yadda, she’s off in the woods and meets a boy and falls instantly in love, yadda yadda, neither know the other is royalty, and so on. Some of the variations come in her relationship with Maleficent, who is pretty much her only friend (and occasional lover if the open-mouthed kisses and groping is anything to go by), and the details of the sleeping curse, but that’s pretty much it. Otherwise, it’s Sleeping Beauty with a lot of pointless sex.

So what’s my problem with this novella? It starts on the first page with silly editorial errors. If I’d read the excerpt (which for LSB is always chapter one), I would’ve seen them and passed on buying. I only continued reading because I kept hoping it would get better. It didn’t. And they really are silly errors. We must got tell Millie, and It took then a week, and The gelding let out a surprised whiny, and…well, I have a very long list that I bothered to take a note of. You don’t need to see them all. One of the fairies gets described as “titan-haired” but I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be “titian-haired.” What color is titan-haired supposed to be? At one point, Phillip calls her Aurora when he doesn’t know her true identity and only knows her as Rose. Even Maleficent’s name changes spelling at the end of the story.

If I sound frustrated, I am. I don’t expect this level of mistakes from this publisher. And I’m annoyed with myself for not reading the excerpt and saving myself both the time and money I spent on this. If the story itself had been original enough to distract me from the errors, it might not have been so bad, but it just isn’t. It’s told in fairy tale style, with an omniscient POV (which wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, thankfully), and I kept picturing the movie every time they were in the forest. If one of them had burst into song, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The story does try to add a darker element at the end as Aurora’s frustrated father tries to control her, but honestly, the violence of those scenes and the suggestion that she’s going to be raped as well as whipped never gels with the rest of the novella.

I’m going to stick more closely to my rules from now on. And wish fervently that this is a blip in LSB’s usual reliability.


5/10 – So many silly mistakes in this, it was hard to believe it was an LSB book


6/10 – Charming enough, but this is still a fairy tale


6/10 – I was just getting invested in her when she started making foolish choices that didn’t seem to fit the strong woman I thought she was

Entertainment value

4/10 – Sloppy editing and story threads that are never explored make this a half-baked effort from the start

World building

5/10 – A fairy tale, yes, but generic and flat



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