Ezra Dawn, $2.99, ISBN 978-1718960930
Fantasy Romance, 2018
Sugar & Spice is the gay retelling of the fairy tale Cinderella, and I have to ask what Ezra Dawn is thinking to have the male protagonist called Sinder Elle. How can anyone come up with such a name in a state of sobriety? Given how the fantasy genre love its X’s and Y’s when it comes to names, this is one instance when the author could have gone with, say, Xinder Elvar or something else that doesn’t resemble the name of a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Mind you, if drag had been a big aspect of this story, I would have appreciated this thing so much more. The illusion of appearances plays a big part of the fairy tale; imagine how glorious it would be if Sinder had been a drag queen or trans woman showing up at the ball in a dress that would win the character all the crowns in the land… as well as the crown of the prince, and you can take that any way you want.
Anyway, this one is set in the present day of an alternate Earth. Sinder lives with his cruel uncle and the man’s brats, a set of identical twins, and all three treat Sinder like the house serf. They also use his designs, without crediting him of course, to run a successful tattoo parlor in Beverly Hills. Our Prince Charming is—brace yourself—Price Charmain. Let’s just say I’m torn between wanting to try and not wanting to even know what the author had when they came up with these names.
This isn’t just a take on Cinderella, it also has guns! Oh, don’t worry, people, this isn’t a scary thriller or suspense story; this is one story where people wield guns and make wisecracks because their whole world is a race to come up with the quippiest quip ever. Oh, and because everyone loves a fantasy romance, there are shifters too, not that these shifters are hindered in anyway from behaving like human beings. If I have had whatever the author had, I may even be tempted to think that this is a contemporary romance with last-minute woo-woo added in to make it more “Will this put me in the bestseller list?”-friendly.
So yes, because there are shifters, there is the mate-mate-mate bond, and hence, all potential for romantic developments, actual falling in love, and what not is completely, absolutely killed by the characters going all insta-mate. There is no suspense or anticipation to be had from following the two men fall in love, because there isn’t any. Hello, mate-mate, mate mate, filler nonsense to give the story an “exciting” face-off, the end.
Oh, and the two men call each other “Sugar” and “Spice”, hence the title of this story. Why do they do this? Beats me; must be an alpha dragon tradition, I guess. Surely there are people that will cross their legs and bite their lower lips when they are confronted by a hero that goes, “Woo, I am the alpha dragon, with the biggest brawn and brain and dong, and I insist you call me Spicy!”
I don’t know. There is no romance here, just a contrived mate-mate-mate “bond”, if I can even call it that, wrapped up in “quippy” conversations that resemble sentences taken out of Reddit and Twitter instead of anything an actual person will say and “action” scenes that can’t decide whether they should be comedy or suspense-y.
Maybe there are people out there that go into immediate orgasm when they read the word “mate” on a page—those would be the perfect target audience for this story. Heaven knows I’m certainly not in whatever target audience the author is aiming at with this thing.