Title: His Cursed Prince
Author: Ryan Loveless
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 28, 2018
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance, Humour, Short Story
Page Count: 98 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Three facts about Tuckington Belle:
1. Given the choice between illegally scaling the royal castle’s walls to steal flowers for a client at his family’s dress shop or going on a date with a girl his brother set him up with (“He’s fertile, and he can sew!”), Tuck will scale the wall like a spider after a fly.
2. If, upon knocking himself unconscious when he falls off the wall, Tuck wakes up bruised, blindfolded, and inside the castle, where—based on the unearthly wails heard nightly—the prince no one has seen in ten years is probably a ghost, Tuck would still choose this over a date with a girl.
3. Tuck thinks it’s time to admit he’s gay.
Three facts about Prince Frederick George Deor (Read and approved with great reluctance by Lord “Protocol is Protocol. Stop Being a Pain About It” Todd):
1. He brought a curse upon himself and now bears the skin of a snake.
2. He can’t take his eyes off the injured thief recovering in the castle.
3. Friendships born from lying and insisting the other person wears a blindfold can blossom into true love—which he needs to break the curse.
This is a fun read if not memorable; it offers a light writing style that is easily approachable and has humour throughout. It is quirky in that it is clearly fantasy but there are echoes of the real world particularly relating to technology. These make the story a little disjointed, but will be something that a younger reader can associate with. Characterisation is well developed and there is a good balance between central and secondary characters. The world building is more traditional medieval fantasy structure, which makes the presence of technology quite unusual. The plot has echoes of existing fairy tales but is pleasantly based in an m/m context. This is a teen read and is clearly designed as a little piece of escapism and succeeds well at it. There is no real tension throughout although there are moments where certain situations or character actions could have had more impact. These are quickly resolved.
The relationship between the two central characters is interesting in that it is largely driven from one side. Circumstances hold the other individual back, but this is compensated by a steady revelation of backstory that enriches this character. As with similar stories the passion and sex is taken to the point of explicit and then skips forward rather than dwell on too many details. What is noticeable is that m/m sex even the taking of virginity is portrayed as free of angst, risks or discomfort. It is not clear what this is supposed to suggest to the teen reader.
There a good pace to the story and despite its length a reasonable level of complexity to make it an interesting read. The plot is fun and has sufficient differences to set it apart from other books of this sort.
As is to be expected, the story has a positive ending. As there are no real plotlines or themes to be resolved, the story ends quite quickly. There is a coda of sorts that attempts to develop a family thread to the book. It is difficult to see what the point of this is except that it ‘normalises’ the relationship between the two central characters.