RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Sleeping with A Beauty by Leslie Kelly


Title: "Sleeping With a Beauty"
Author: Leslie Kelly
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373796670
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Romance

Book Once Upon a Valentine This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Molly This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best Romance Novella category.

The summary:     

Historian Ashlynn Scott is seeking the fabled castle of Sleeping Beauty. But with just one kiss, she finds herself tangled up—and tangled in the sheets!—with a rogue adventurer.

She might never want to wake up!

And here is Molly's review:

I so wanted to love this novella.  As a former archaeologist, and a fan of Robin McKinley’s and Gregory Maguire’s reimaginings of classic fairy tales, I should have loved this story.  Unfortunately it just did not work for me.  I never cared about the characters or the story as a whole, and I felt like there was a lot of great but ultimately unrealized potential here. 

Elatyria is a fairy tale world that parallels our own world; our fairy tales are Elatyria’s actual history. Ashlynn is a historian/archaeologist in search of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and Raine is essentially a treasure hunter hired to protect her along the way.  Great!  But there were so many things that I wanted to know about that were never explained. 

For instance, why don’t more people travel back and forth between the worlds?  It seems to be general knowledge in Elatyria that it’s possible to travel to Earth and back – people know when and where it can happen – so why does it seem like they just stay in their own world and they never explore?  Why does Earth have things like electricity, but Elatyria doesn’t?  I wanted to know more about what happened to Sleeping Beauty, her prince, and their entourage when they left.  And it seemed like the story was building up to revealing something important about the person who hired Raine but then…nothing.

There are A LOT of internal monologues from both characters happening here, often right in the middle of their conversations.  Dialogue that should’ve taken up about 3 paragraphs ends up taking 3 pages to get through because we have to read all about how Ashlynn interpreted everything that Raine just said, and how she feels about it, and how she thinks he feels about it, and how she thinks he thinks she feels about it.  And on, and on, and on.

By the end of the story, I was still wondering why these two characters like each other, let alone love each other.  And why should I care?  The only answer I could come up with was “because the author said so (over and over again).”  I always end up feeling a little robbed at the end of books like this.  I really want to see the characters’ relationship develop.  I do not want to see them fall in lust at first sight and then have the author just say, “it’s grown into love now, take my word for it, the end”.

There were definitely some eye-rolling moments too.  Check out this interaction between Ashlynn and some guy who was not Raine…

“Look,” she said, her desperation growing, “I’m just not that into you.”

“But…but…every girl wants to marry me!”

“Dude, get over yourself,” she said, slipping into Earthese, which seemed appropriate at the moment.  “You are not all that and a bag of chips.  Now let me go before I show you how unladylike I can be!”

Why, exactly, was “Earthese” appropriate at this moment?  And who was she talking to while she was on Earth?  Seriously, she was in Philadelphia for like a month and this is the slang she took back to Elatyria?  Weird.

And then there was this, which I found irritating:

“Ashlynn might be bookish and she might have spent much of her life in classrooms and museums, but she was no coward.”

As if it’s generally accepted that “bookish” always goes hand in hand with “coward.” As if the fact that Ashlynn can R-E-A-D and yet still manage to knee an attacker in the balls makes her extra special.  Grrr….

Also, my inner archaeologist cringed at the idea that Raine being “irritatingly sexy” was enough to overcome Ashlynn’s aversion to his treasure-hunting ways.  Really?  No, a sexy pot hunter is still a pot hunter.

Honestly, if I hadn’t signed up to review this novella, it probably would’ve been a DNF for me.  On the other hand, the author does write a decent sex scene, and once the story was able to move along without the constant internal monologues it was veering more into C territory.  And I liked Stephanie Bond’s All Tangled Up, so the anthology wasn’t a total waste of book money.  Overall, though, Sleeping with a Beauty was definitely a no-go for me.

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