I decided to read this book because I am a huge fan of Ann Rice's vampire novels (AR wrote this book under a pseudonym), and also because the book was recommended to me by a friend.
Here's my bottom line (pun intended): Uh, no thanks.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty went absolutely nowhere. In the Shades of Gray series, the author does an excellent job of building tension. The hero entices the heroine in small steps. It's the teasing buildup that makes SoG so entertaining.
In CoSB, however, the author starts out over the top. There's no build-up and nowhere for the story to go. The horror starts on page two and just keeps on. By the time Prince Alexi told his horrific story, I was so desensitized to the various punishments that I was actually bored. I was nearly laughing at the antics of the court. Puh-lease!!
Another thing that annoyed me was that Beauty started out as a ninny and ended up as a ninny. I would have enjoyed the story much more if she'd been given a choice from the beginning. For example, she could willingly become the Prince's slave, or he would torch her parents' castle. Or willingly go with the Prince, or he would take her younger sister. Or something! If she'd made a choice to go with the Prince, Beauty would have been an honorable character. One worth rooting for. But she was such a pushover! Right away, she was fully compliant! Everyone in the book kept saying that she had a proud spirit, and I was like, "What???"
I will say that the book was compelling in a weird way. I read it in one day. The other thing that this book had going for it was that I believe Rice/Roquelaure was trying to make a point. Prince Alexi's long story at the end was an attempt to communicate something to the readers. The book is a fable, but unfortunately, the moral of the fable seemed to be, "If someone tries to break your spirit, you should let them." That goes against *everything* I believe in.
I doubt I'll bother reading on in the series. There are too many terrific books waiting to be read!