Monday, March 21, 2016

REVIEW: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Book Blurb: A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?

My Review: This novella has a very original idea to have both the mother and step-mother of Maia (our resident Cinderella) make deals with the Gentle Lord to gain something they want. For Maia's mother it was so that she could protect her daughter even in death and for the step-mother it was for her to love Maia's father. But both deals backfire. It was nice to see that Maia and Anax (our resident Prince Charming) not meet in a ballroom and fall instantly in love. They got to know each other gradually over time before the ball his father hosted for him to choose his bride.

The ending was a bit twisted but I think it works nicely in the story. I am curious how things work out after the HEA. It would be nice to get a follow up story or even a nod in a future book. Now I'm excited to start reading Cruel Beauty.

Rating: 4½ stars out of 5


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