Warning: this is erotica. This book is FREE. You may read it here: http://www.bettiesharpe.com/ember/
I don't usually read erotica at all, but the premise of a fairy tale and Prince Charming got me intrigued. My first erotica (bought purely because my innocent 18-year old self just wanted to own a naughty book, if I may be honest) was Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy. It was titillating, and after the first 50 or so pages, it got pretty boring, quite frankly. Anyways, what I learned from reading that book, was the fact that while erotica is good, it gets boring in huge doses when all the characters do is fuck and fuck and fuck endlessly in every position you can possibly imagine. Oh, and spanking? Not for me, thank you very much.
Fast forward some years later, and oh, hey! An erotica based on a fairy tale. Interesting...but erotica? Still boring. If I've discovered something about myself, it's that sex is books just don't do it for me. If I wanted porn, I'd watch porn, thank you very much. But then I read the summary, and this sentence sucked me in.
Poor girl. If Ember had spent less time studying magic and more time studying human nature, she might have guessed that a man who gets everything and everyone he wants will come to want the one woman he cannot have.
Well, color me intrigued. I'm glad to say that this book is a lot better than Anne Rice's. For one thing, there's an actual plot, and the sex is nowhere rampant. The writing is lovely, and while the story is imperfect, I cannot complain much because the writing in this free book is considerably better than book on which I have actually wasted (and I mean wasted) money.
I may have been drawn to this book by a premise of Prince Charming, but I think I'm an idiot for not realizing that this is a retelling of Cinderella. I mean...Ember...Cinder...Khanh, how can you be so fucking smart and yet so damn clueless at times? -_- I honestly didn't know this was going to be a Cinderella tale until the Stepmother appeared.
Summary: This is Cinderella, with a twist. And I don't mean that because of the sexual nature of the book. The retelling of Cinderella is not altogether traditional, and I had some problems with it.
Prince Charming actually has a name, but nobody has ever called him by his real name. He is Prince Charming simply because everyone who has ever laid eyes upon him will fall in love with him. It is the blessing placed on him at his birth.
“May he be charming. May every eye find perfection in his face and form. May every man respect him and every woman desire him. May all who meet him love him and long to please him.”
Prince Charming has brought unwarranted success to his nation, his country wins every war because warring nations cannot resist his blessing. As such, he is also a superior diplomat, through no skill of his own. He has brought peace, prosperity to his nation, and despite his whoring, despite his despicable personal life, his people literally cannot help but to love him.
"Ember" is a wealthy merchant's daughter, with a dying mother who warns her against looking at Prince Charming. Ember cannot resist, and looks upon him, subsequently falling in love with him against her will. Her mother concocts a geas for her to wear, so that she can resist the prince's charms.
After her mother dies, her father remarries. Enter the stepmother and stepsisters, but they are not who you would expect. All goes well within their lives until their family falls into debt. And how they choose to make the money needed for survival will bring the Prince back into Ember's life, unwanted.
The Writing: Loved it. The writing is unexpectedly beautiful, and fitting in tone for a fairy tale. There is crude language used in reference to parts of the body, but explicitness is expected in a book of this nature. The writing and how well done it is really took me by surprise. I didn't expect that much quality from a short piece of erotica such as this.
I also thought that for a short novella, it rather delivers a remarkably well done commentary on the nature of love and human nature.
“You’re cruel. Don’t you think it must be a peculiar sort of hell to live surrounded by sycophants? Like living in a dollhouse. No matter how perfect your playmates, they are cold porcelain. Soon enough, you would long for the heat, the softness, and the imperfections of living flesh. You would long to hear words and wishes other than your own.”
The Plot: I won't comment on the plot, because the story is so short that to be detailed would be to ruin the surprise, but I did have some problems with the plausibility. Ember's actions also did not make sense to me at times. While I loved the writing, I can't say I enjoyed the plot turns, nor to mention the gaping holes within it. It got altogether absurd at times. While there is a considerable amount of sex in this story, it does not take over the story, and it is interspersed and scatted, and doesn't occur every other page, unlike Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty.
The Characters: I mostly liked "Ember," (quotes because she never gives us her real name). She is a witch, but she has a dark sense of humor, and is able to laugh at herself and her childish fantasies of the prince.
I dreamt he leaned over me crying; his hot tears fell upon my cold cheeks. “Oh, she was so pure,” he wailed. “She was so delicate and special. She has died for the love of me. I can love no other!”
I must pause here to tell you, I see the way your lips are twitching. Please, don’t be afraid to laugh. My dignity is not so rigid I can’t see the humor in those youthful imaginings.
Her actions were sometimes nonsensical to me, since they went with the plot (which I felt was lacking), but overall, Ember is a not-disagreeable character. I didn't like the fact that she was an altogether powerful witch without much explanation, among other things.
Overall: a beautifully written erotic book that didn't deliver on the dark fairy-tale promise.