by Gwen Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Evangeline / 978-1-603-10579-8
I don't read a lot of erotic literature, but I can appreciate it when well-written, and I absolutely *love* fairy tale re-tellings of just about any kind. Fairy tales were an oral tradition long before they were written down, and it was not uncommon for most fairy tales to have an "adult" version that was told around the fireplace, so I was interested to see what the author would come up with in this retelling mash-up of "Bluebeard" and "Snow White and Rose Red".
Results seem a little mixed, to my mind. Sometimes it seems like the novel can't quite make up its mind as to what it wants to be - fairy tale retelling or erotic fantasy or both? - and ends up falling a little short at the middle. The fairy tale retelling actually seems very tame compared to the exciting source material - despite the initial coldness of the bridegroom, it's pretty clear from the get-go that he's meant to be a sympathetic character, and the "real" villain of the piece doesn't loom as large or as threatening as the narrative seems to *think* they do. And once the details start spilling out regarding the deaths of the Bluebeard's wives, everyone in the story immediately seems downgraded to "colossal idiot" for not immediately realizing the source of the foul play.
With the fairy tale retelling being rather tame and fairly predictable, that leaves the erotic angle for the book to tackle, and while I'm not a connoisseur, that seems lackluster as well. The heroine subscribes to fairly modern sexual attitudes, and manages to bring her frosty bridegroom around in little time, so there's quite a few marital scenes that are sweet and modern and liberated but not exactly thrilling (Your Mileage May Vary). Other than that, the only eroticism really to be found here is an apparently throw-away bestiality reference uttered by an unsympathetic (and presumably lying) character, and a somewhat tacked on erotic-motivation scene for the main villain.
Overall, I didn't dislike this novel, and found it to be a quick and easy read, but for me at least it didn't really satisfy the "erotic fairy tale" premise, being exceedingly tame on both counts, and really only loosely connected to the premise stories to begin with. Still, if you're looking for a nice, fairy-tale associated story with modern sexual attitudes and straightforward erotic elements, I suppose you could do a lot worse than this.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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