Title: From the Ashes
Author: Kayla Jameth
Publisher: Breathless Press
Amazon: Buy Link From the Ashes (Naughty Nursery Rhymes)
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.
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?
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.