I loved fairy tales as a kid. I was taught to read with a book of them almost too big for my little hands to hold while perched on my father’s lap. My favorites? Probably a toss up between Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. (I don’t like shrinking violet heroines and there’s always room for a cool big baddie.)
Kristina Wright anthologies bring out the kid in me mixed with all the adult fantasies and stories that fill my voracious blonde brain today. Fairy Tale Lust, Lustfully Ever After, no matter how fast she puts them out, I can’t seem to get enough. They’re all sweet and sexy and fulfilling, and then she goes and ups it a notch…
She went above and beyond and mixed fairy tales with my love of bondage. I’m not a small or weak heroine in my own world and there’s just something about a potential prince who has to power to pin me down. I’ve read more than my fair share of BDSM anthologies, and with the uniqueness of this one I can declare it one of the best. Only Kristina Wright could create such an idea and make it real. The stories are so vividly written they become palpable, so enchanting my cheeks warm and my breath catches. It takes me to magical places where dragons’ daughters meet black knights, seven mysterious ravens carry erotic promise, and Wolfe has grandma’s permission to make little Red beg.
THE LAST DUCHESS
by Kristina Wright
The duke was not only cruel, he was shrewd. A man, no matter how highborn, couldn’t simply kill off his wife in cold blood without the people rising up in protest. But accidents happen and the duke was a true master of accidents — after all, more than one of his detractors had died in a hunting accident, or drowned in his own bathwater after a night of debauchery. And then there was the first duchess… Esmeralda’s predecessor was said to have hung herself upon the eve of their fifth wedding anniversary when she had failed to give the Duke an heir. Esmeralda wondered at the truth of that story.
The duke was a brilliant man, but the duchess was smart and had been raised to think for herself. Finding someone who loathed the duke as much as she did wasn’t hard — finding one who would assist her proved more difficult. But Esmeralda had her own power, her own strengths — and a small fortune squirreled far away from the duke’s reach. The wizard who now stood before her would have everything his heart desired if she were able to escape her husband.
“Ah, so you’ve awoken,” he said, his rough voice soothing in the darkness.
“How — how long was I asleep?” she asked, saying the words carefully, her throat as rough-sounding as that of her savior.
“It has been a fortnight, milady.”
“The duke –” A shoulder slipped up her spine, at the memory of his cruel face twisted above her. “The funeral?”
“The duke believes you dead. The funeral was held three days past,” the wizard said. “Your body, as it were, was placed on display in the main hall. You were delivered to my care by your trusted servants, their pockets heavy with your gold, while a coffin laden with stones was placed in the family plot.”
“No one guessed?” Esmeralda dared feel a spark of hope. “No one questioned my sudden death?”
There was movement from the wizard, the shaking of his head in the depths of the gloom. “Many wept over you, a few whispered of the duke’s cruelty and treachery.”
“But none raised a sword against him,” the Duchess claimed wearily. “None would defend my honor or my life.”
A lantern flared to life on the table beside her and the wizard’s face came into view, lined and scowling beneath his heavy hood. “Seek your own revenge, Duchess. Do not fear a man who would seek to kill you.”
“I don’t want revenge.”
The wizard’s eyes narrowed. “What is it you do want, Duchess?”
Esmeralda rubbed her eyes wearily. “I only want to live free and happily.”
What Esme didn’t say, what she couldn’t bear to tell the wizard, was that she wanted to live happily with the man the duke had promised to be, strong and capable, loving and masterful. In fact, there had been a time when she welcomed the click of the cuffs and the kiss of the cat-o’-nine-tails because such sweet torture led to the greatest pleasures when accompanied by amorous attentions. She had thought, falsely so, that she had found the man of her dreams. But the duke had proven to be only a cruel sadist, aroused by her pain and disinterested in her pleasure. Her life had been risked for dark desires masked as love. No more. Never again.
“I want only to be happy and free,” she said again, keeping those secret passions to herself.
But she suspected the wizard was wise and knew the truth.