From the Ashes

KJ_From the Ashes_600x900Title: From the Ashes
Author: Kayla Jameth
Publisher: Breathless Press
Amazon: Buy Link From the Ashes (Naughty Nursery Rhymes)
Genre: Historical/Fairytale
Length: novella (100 PDF pages)
Rating: 2 stars

A Guest Review by Shy

One Sentence Review: A book with an unusual premise that didn’t work for me.

THE BLURB

Cinder is not just another pretty face. He aspires to be his own man, but finds himself longing to belong to another man.

Cinder never thought that he could rise from the ashes of his life, but an unexpected encounter with a woman claiming to be his fairy godmother may be just what he needs. Finding himself flung into his very own fairy tale, she sends him off to meet his Prince Charming. But was the gown really necessary?

THE REVIEW

I really wanted to like this book. I adore rewritten fairytales. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work for me.

The premise of this book involves a man passing for a woman – and not just passing, but passing so well that no one even guesses. In order to steal his inheritance, Cinder’s wicked stepmother has forced him to crossdress as a girl since he was ten. Normally, I could swallow this (hey, some guys are feminine). But…

The biggest issue I had was Cinder. I’m assuming he’s eighteen (if it’s explicitly stated, I missed it). But the author tells us that he’s just now hitting puberty. His voice hasn’t cracked yet, he can’t grow a beard, and he’s only just now “started to grow hair in places that had previously been bare” (in the author’s own words).

I found that just too hard to believe. I think the author tried to make her premise more plausible by making our protagonist a late bloomer, but, in doing so, made things less plausible instead.

Because there’s no way that an eighteen year old man hasn’t cracked his voice yet. And if he’s not eighteen yet, he doesn’t belong in an erotic novel.

And while I don’t object to an age gap, I feel uncomfortable with the idea that Cinder might not be through puberty yet, regardless of his age.

Now, I’m a little newer to the m/m genre than most, and honestly, I’m beginning to get a little concerned. This is not the first book that I’ve picked up that has contained, shall we say, ‘age issues’. The first one I thought was a fluke; now I’m starting to wonder. Give it to me straight, guys. Is this a common thing in m/m literature?

I feel like this is something a publisher should warn the reader about, like non-consent and dubious consent. I don’t really want to dither around on technicalities of “well, he could be eighteen” when I’m reading romance. I like my heroes on equal footing.

The saving grace of this book was the scene where Cinder and Prince Henri meet for the first time. I felt the romance started off very well, with the characters actually talking to each and getting to know each other before falling head-over-heels.

Some of the kiss scenes were actually quite sweet, and I did really get the impression that these two characters worked for each other – that they might really have a happily ever after. The ending is lovely; rather than the main problem being handwaved away, it’s solved by everyone being reasonable and sensible, and an amusingly obvious solution is reached.

There are also some nice bits of French here and there. It was a very nice touch, and it added a bit of style to an otherwise dry, well-worn fairytale.

I can see how this might be an entertaining tale for others. It’s lighthearted, a quick read with lots of tension. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it. 2 stars.

5 comments

  • I wrote this review late last night. Now that I’m awake again, I re-read it, and I feel I should clarify some things.

    May-December romances do not generally bother me. They’re not something I seek out, but a good author can make me love anything. 😀

    My problem is when a May-December romance is more like a April-December romance (if you catch my drift). I prefer both characters to have the emotional and sexual maturity of adults — whatever their age. A hero can be young, but he has to be competent, and I don’t want his youth to be a major factor in his attractiveness. If that makes sense. 😕

    A while back, I read a book with a similar problem. The book in question opens with a banquet scene in which young pages (all about age fourteen, if I remember right) act as half-naked servants to adult men who grope them during the feast. Now, there was never any on-screen sex with characters explicitly stated to be underage, but there were a lot of moments similar to the one I mentioned: where a character’s underage traits are sexualized.

    This is a HUGE squick for me. I don’t want to judge, but I think when it goes too far, the book should come with a warning label. Some m/m fans don’t like seeing pain sexualized; some fans don’t like seeing women sexualized; I don’t like seeing youth sexualized.

    That’s why I felt the need to mention it in this review. I feel hurt and a little betrayed when I take the time to research a book before I read it, yet come across no warnings from the online reviews. It makes me wonder if I’m just too sensitive. 🙁

    I don’t want to take readers away from an author, but it’s unfair to let a reader purchase a book they aren’t going to be able to enjoy.

    Reply
    • The book in question opens with a banquet scene in which young pages (all about age fourteen, if I remember right) act as half-naked servants to adult men who grope them during the feast.

      Ewwww. Do you happen to remember the name of the book? I want to make sure I put it on every DNR list I have in case I accidentally stumble on it and end up reading something like that.

      Reply
  • O_o what’s May/December thrope?

    I read a previous book by this author that was actually quite good, though she was fond of the dub & non-con theme in there as well. (as are quite a lot of other authors these days it appears)

    Like you I am uncomfortable with underage erotica. Yes, I am aware that teens have sex and at very young ages at times. That’s life and normal (up to a point). However, that said, it has no place in an erotica novel. That is just wrong.

    Agreed on the warnings.

    Great review Shy!

    Reply
  • Shy
    May/December romance is one of the most popular tropes in M/M. I don’t understand why because one of the reasons I read this genre is because the guys are supposed to be relatively equal and not like the typical male/female relationships portrayed in het romances. To each his own but I try to avoid these stories.

    Reply
  • There are a lot of may/december stories in m/m, is that what you mean with age issues? Some of them work, some (most, in my case) don’t, too many with the older guy calling the younger guy the kid, even after they’ve had sex, it’s just not me…

    And I think I’ll stay away from this book, thanks

    Reply

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