Enclave Authors, $0.99, 978-0-9994854-6-0
Fantasy Romance, 2018
No Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur is one of the stories in the boxed set Of Beasts and Beauties, all of which promise to be a variation of that Beauty and the Beast story. Like I always say, every romance author should do a take on this story before being banned from ever touching it again, because I think it’s time other fairy tales get their turn in the sun to be bastardized by romance authors too.
How come nobody does anything based on, say, Andrew Lang’s Jack My Hedgehog? The title itself is tailored for furries who have a kink for spiny critters, and it’s time we have heroes who can shapeshift into hedgehogs! Or how about Prince Lindworm, in which a giant worm-thing has a habit of eating his brides until he is outsmarted by a wily farmer’s daughter? Let’s have “eat” in this context be that thing smart guys do to their girlfriends and we have a nice hot erotic romp right there? But no, it’s always Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves… zzzz…
Oh, what? This story. Oh yes. Beauty and the Beast. I’m not sure why No Man Can Tame is considered a retell of that fairy tale because it’s more of a marriage of convenience story. No one here suffers from a truly disfiguring physical handicap that will affect their boinkability. Sure, the heroine is known as the Beast Princess, but that’s not for her reputation rather than her face resembling a wild boar or anything like that.
The humans and the dark-elves in this setting are on bad terms, to put it mildly, and Princess Alessandra and the dark-elf Prince Veron are decreed to marry in order to cement an alliance between the two kingdoms. Neither has a favorable impression of the other prior to the marriage, due to all kinds of prejudices and bitterness both have of the other person’s people. As you can guess, the hero is far more accommodating and mature, while the heroine goes from stomping her foot early on (really) to pulling one silly stunt that ends up biting her big time in the rear end when things seem to be finally going good for the two of them.
Still, Aless isn’t too bad a character – her character arc revolves around her settling into a more mellow, mature groove as she becomes aware of how everything doesn’t revolve around her; as a princess and now the princess of two divided nations united in a time of need, she has to make some allowances, even sacrifices, for the greater good. If anything, my issue lies far more with Veron: that guy comes to terms with the humans not being so bad as a bunch a little too quickly and easily for me to find that believable. Still, I appreciate that – Aless can be a childish mumu at times, so I don’t think my blood pressure can take it if Veron joins her in stomping their feet together and acting like brats.
The romance in No Man Can Tame is in many ways a standard Heroine in a Big Castle thing – if you have read any story of a heroine moving into the castle of the guy she is forced to marry, much about the story here will be familiar fare, right down to the troublesome female who just wants to cause problems for the heroine. Also, the external conflicts ramp up greatly in the late third or so, to the point that a new conflict pops up right after these people have resolved a current conflict. Relationship development feels like an afterthought compared to all the drama. This is a double-edged sword: the drama forces Aless to grow up, and I appreciate this character development. However, the romance itself is nowhere as developed as the individual characters in that romance, if I am making sense here – the characters embark on their self-discovery separately rather than together. As a result, love just seems to happen because the author wants to market this story as a romance.
Not that this is a bad read. In fact, the author has a nice, vibrant style of storytelling, and she is also not afraid to have her characters, especially Aless, admit that they have screwed up big and learn from these screw-ups. It’s just that No Man Can Tame never really comes together as well as it should. I think I like it, but it also has all kinds of small, normally trivial issues that add up to prevent me from being wowed by it.