The Fast And Easy Book Club: Discussion – Beauty’s Punishment

Fast and easy book clubLast month, we launched The Fast And Easy Book Club – our first main selection for discussion was Anne Rice’s Beauty’s Punishment (writing as A. N. Roquelaure). Now we’ve come full circle – but before we introduce June’s smutty selection(s) and give away five copies of the next main Fast And Easy selection, we’d love to hear what you thought about this classic.

Anne Rice’s Beauty series dog-ears a particular time in my life. In my late teens, I wound up bound to a beau who was not sexually adventurous. (That is the nicest way I can put this. I believe he was frigid.) Whenever I suggested anything even remotely to the left of vanilla, he blanched and made me promise never to discuss the topic again.

Let me say that this was pre-internet (yes, I grew up in the age of the dinosaurs). So I didn’t know there were other kinky people out there. People who wanted to be tied down – or do the tying – people who wouldn’t start stammering if I confessed to craving to be gagged or spanked or punished or… well, you get the Polaroid.

Beauty's Punishment book coverWhen I quite accidentally discovered Anne Rice’s Beauty books, I felt as if I’d come home. (Or come in a parking lot, because that’s exactly what happened, outside the bookstore.) The fact that Ms. Rice had written such a risque trilogy—and that the books were prominently on display at my local bookstore – made me feel safe about my own desires.

Rereading Beauty’s Punishment reminded me of my drama-filled life near the Santa Monica pier – in a sandcastle (or rather townhouse), which I fled with my own Prince.

But now’s the time to discuss how Beauty’s Punishment made you feel. Answer one, several or all of the questions in the comments of this post, or email them in and we’ll post them on your behalf:

  • What was the most memorable – your favorite – sex scene in BP?
  • Would you like to see BP made into a film? Who would you cast?
  • How did Beauty change from the beginning of the book to the end?
  • What do you think Anne Rice does with erotica that is missing from other erotica?
  • What makes the characters in BP believable – or not?
  • Did BP make you uncomfortable at any point? Did the book make you aware of some new aspect of your sexuality that you were not aware of previously?
  • Would you be inspired to read the first of the series (if you skipped right to the second) or to go on to the third?
  • Are there scenarios you’d like to try out with a lover that you hadn’t considered before?
  • Do you have any questions you’d like to ask other readers?

For me, discovering The Beauty Books was like being released. Odd that a series so deeply entrenched in bondage could make me feel so free.

  • Vanilla Envelope

    My wife, now ex-wife, brought these home and I couldn’t stop reading them. The thought of beauty’s chains arousing her as she moved on all fours still thrills me to this day. I remember the excitement I felt as Anne described one character’s punishment; being impaled overnight on a concrete statue. The embarrassment of being exposed for all to see along with the simultaneous aching and stimulation. I tried to introduce these to my wife but without success.

  • Two that are top of mind…

    * What do you think Anne Rice does with erotica that is missing from other erotica?

    She wrote the Beauty books – especially BP – just as she did with Interview With A Vampire and that series. They are full, complete stories, and really force you to imagine the exact mechanics of the ‘porno close-up’ you want to “see” so bad, by describing utter debauchery in non-puerile terms. Rice’s smut reader is treated like any other reader: most “porno” novels treat readers like they don’t deserve quality writing or believable characters because they’re reading about sex. She also manages to do the one thing that I see as the most important element of any piece of writing. She takes my question of “why should I care (about these people/this story)?” and gives me enough reasons on page one to get me in it.

    * What makes the characters in BP believable – or not?

    Totally believable. Because they are so flawed, so conflicted, so eager to surrender to pleasure, and so hopeful to find meaning.

    * Would you like to see BP made into a film? Who would you cast?

    Beauty = Deborah Ann Woll, Emilia Clarke or Elisabeth Moss.
    Prince Tristan = James Marsters, Alexander Skarsgård (I know, I know) or Aidan Turner
    Queen = Kristin Bauer
    Nicholas = Aidan Gillen or Nathan Fillion

  • I love the line, “never uncomfortable, but certainly startled.” I think that describes how I felt, too. I regularly reuse, I mean “return,” to the Beauty books. Here is one of my favorite passages:

    The Captain stopped. he looked down into the Prince’s eyes and laid his hand on the Prince’s forehead again. “Not such a bad whipping, was it, Laurent?” he asked. The men throughout the camp laughed softly. “Except that you will receive it again at dawn, and then at noon, and then at twilight.”


  • Jim

    How excellent of you to remind me of these stories! I first ran across them at a very good lady friend’s
    house. We often shared books, and were both Anne Rice fans. I found this on her bookshelf, and four
    pages later, set it down looked at her and said “You have got to tell me you have the rest of these”.
    She grinned “Oh yes”. I think it took me about three days to finish them. Have reread them several times over the years.
    Most Memorable scene- Probably the tavern orgy, with Beauty and “The Captain”
    Film- Yes, if done well and not cheaply. It would have to remain true to the story.
    Casting-Very hard to say, too many choices!
    I don’t know that Beauty changed so much as she became more aware of who she was, and what
    she desired.
    I think Anne Rice concerns herself more with story, rather than some perception of what readers “want”. If the story is well told, then it will appeal to readers. Many writers of erotica seem to pander to some mythical ideal of what readers want to hear.
    I was never uncomfortable, but certainly startled. Those stories were my first real look into the ideas
    of dominance and submission. They opened me up to the idea that there was an almost limitless possibility to sexual relationships. They definitely made me curious about exploring new things.
    Thanks for bringing back very good memories!
    J : )