Let Down Your Hair by Fiona Price

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, Fairytale Retelling
Published: 12/11/14
Reviewed by Anne
281 ebook pages

Sage is a modern day Rapunzel.  She’s was raised by her grandmother in a very unorthodox and extreme feminist manner.  It’s left her very sheltered and naïve about a lot of things and very suspicious and judgmental about others.  She even got her college degrees through online studies.  It’s not until she’s starting her PhD that she has many interactions with the outside world at all.  So she’s very, very surprised when she looks out her office window and into a classroom window and sees a nude man.  She’s also curious, and scared that her grandmother will get the man in trouble, so she dashes down and into the classroom.  That’s where she meets her prince, Ryan Prince, nude model for drawing classes.

As a contemporary set fairytale retelling, this story does an incredible job.  As a romance it really isn’t very good at all.  I think if I’d gone into it just looking for a fairytale, I’d have enjoyed it more.  However, it was listed as a romance, and that brings certain expectations with it, and unfortunately it didn’t meet those expectations.

For me, reading a romance means reading a story that is centered on a romantic relationship between the main characters.  In this story there is a romantic relationship, but the focus of the story is on Sage’s personal journey, and Ryan is just one of many characters in that journey, and he’s actually not even in the majority of the story.  Additionally, Sage’s journey ended up reminding me of a Danielle Steel novel – the kind where you walk with the main character through the darkest times in their life.  I avoid stories like this if I can.  While this one wasn’t as extreme as some examples I’ve read, I just don’t appreciate watching the heroine struggle and be taken advantage of.  It doesn’t make the resolution and happy ending sweeter for me, it just brings me down.

Another strike against the story is that its main subject is feminism as much as it is the fairytale and much more than it is the romance.   I consider myself a feminist, so I bring that bias in with me when I read the story.  I don’t mind a story that features feminism, and I don’t even mind about reading the costs and benefits of a life with and without feminism.  I did get tired of it being so much of what the story was about.

On the positive side, it was an extremely creative retelling of the Rapunzel story!  The tower that Rapunzel was in wasn’t quite literal, but it was the way her grandmother raised her.  There was even a cool look at two different types of towers Sage was kept in.  I really liked this version of Rapunzel.

For all of these reasons, the story was difficult for me to grade.  As a fairytale, it gets and A+.  As a romance it’s a D or an F.  So I’ll settle for a C+.  I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a great fairytale retelling, but don’t expect too much romance.  Can you recommend a fairytale retelling that does have a great romance, too?

Anastasia by Emma Taylor

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Fairy Tale, f/f
Published: 10/15/14
Reviewed by Anne

Anastasia’s father casts out her mother and younger sister, suspecting that they’ve corrupted the magic that kept his farm producing well.  Anastasia, still a child herself, goes with her mother.  Soon her mother remarries and Anastasia has a new step-sister who likes to sit covered in ashes, Elle.  This sets in motion an interesting re-telling of Cinderella.

As a fairy tale, it was an interesting read, but as a romance it failed.  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC from NetGalley, and it came with a warning that this was not an explicit romance.  I have no problem with that, especially when I know it going in.  My problem with the romance was that I felt like their attraction to each other came off as sisterly.  This is due, in part to their young (elementary school) ages when they meet each other.  To me they always seemed like sisters.

I also had a few problems with the world building in the story.  It’s presented as a place where women have few options.  Ana’s mom prostitutes herself to keep them in a crappy apartment before she marries Elle’s rich father. Later mom encourages Ana and Elle and little sister to attend the prince’s ball because marrying him will keep them safe in the future.  So, this picture is painted of the world, but then things happen that seem out of place in the world.  Ultimately Ana and Elle’s financial problems are solved through connections they made, not marriage.  That’s cool with me, but it really caught me off guard in the world the story took place in.

There was a Big Bad in the story that I enjoyed, but it felt a little rushed into the last part of the book.  It was also handled fairly easily.  That actually worked for me, since I don’t particularly care for suspense, but I know others might have a problem with it.

I’d recommend this book for someone who enjoys a fairy tale retelling, but it didn’t really work for me.

Spinning Gold by Vivi Andrews

Spinning Gold

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Fairytale
Reviewed by Anne
97 pages
This short story retelling of Rumplestilskin as a romance has Juliana as an affluent aristocrat at the mercy of an evil prince and “Rue” as the golden fairy she calls on for help.
It’s a great fairytale romance! I loved this twist on Rumplestilskin. I’m not an expert on politics or fairytale age settings, so I don’t know if the ones in this story were realistic, but I enjoyed it. Juliana was a heroine I liked and Rue had a lot of depth for a character in a novella. It was a nice balance of story and sex and even a battle. If you enjoy fairytale retellings, I predict you’ll like this one.