Anyway, without delving too far into the story to risk ruining it for others, I enjoyed the book and it was a very quick read. I love re-works of fairy tales almost as much as I love re-works of Biblical tales, and Lackey weaves some Russian fairy tales in with the predominant "Cinderella" story. If you like fantasy novels or fairy tales, you'll probably like this book, though the sex scenes were superfluous and added nothing to the story. (I guess it wouldn't have been Harlequin without them, though.) The book was good enough, however, that I'm seriously considering tracking down the other two books in the series to continue reading them.
What stuck in my mind afterwards, however, was a Q-and-A with Lackey in which she says that she enjoys fantasy because it is the closest genre we have now to moral tales. Generally, the good triumph over the bad and everyone lives happily-ever-after-the-end. She also added that women tended to be less willing to settle for anything less than pure bliss, while men weren't as opinionated on the matter.
First of all, I'd like to know where she gets her information. I suppose on the one hand it seems to be superficially true (why read a romance novel if it ends sadly?), but on the other hand, it gives women very little credit for any depth of thought. It also completely discounts Danielle Steele's success as a "women's writer," when (from what I understand) her books generally have two main love interests, one of whom dies tragically part-way through. Women are known to enjoy sad stories, and I know quite a few who will watch a sad movie just because they "feel like crying." (Actually, I've done this in the past--my brother swears the entire female species is crazy for actually wanting to cry, but if I'm feeling emotionally blah, the last fifteen minutes or so of Braveheart or Armageddon will fix that problem right away.)
On the other hand, while fairy tales may very well be "moral tales," what we often think of as fairy tales are in no way like the original Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson stories of old, which are, generally, vicious and cruel with incredibly bloody endings. Do we really want moral tales that end with the "bad" having limbs hacked off to live in poverty for the rest of their miserable lives? Especially when, deep down, none of us is perfect and we each secretly know that we, too, would receive the painful, bloody ending if these "moral tales" were true?