Well hello and happy Monday to you! While Mondays are my LEAST favorite day, I am going to make this one infinitely better for you and me by sharing one of my absolute favorite new releases with you.
As always, this review carries the disclaimer that the author is my bestie so there is clearly a bit of bias. However, ze is an exceptionally beautiful person inside and out who I share my honest thoughts with as I read hir work. And luckily for me I get to read it as it flows from hir brilliant fingers so we’ve already hashed through any and all concerns.
The result? Tons of love for another amazing gender bending fairy tale retelling from Mx. Drae. Feel free to check your blood sugar after reading this review as it may be SLIGHTLY sickeningly sweet.
In Cinderellis we have the sweet Ellis who is an underpaid and underappreciated rigger doing far more than his title implies by covering for his emotionally and physically abusive stepfather Ray and doing the tasks expected audio engineer so Ray can drink away his days instead. Ellis’s end goal is to become even just an assistant engineer even though his gifts and abilities make him capable of so, so much more.
Henry, aka Cinder to his throngs of adoring fans, is not only a glorified musician and singer in his own right, but the child of music royalty making him the beloved Prince of Pop (which I have always found to be the most creative take on “Prince Charming”). But his upbringing and own career have made him desperate for a little stability and a home that wasn’t attached to wheels. When he’s offered a chance to have a committed six month gig in Las Vegas he jumps at the chance to attempt to put down a few roots.
But even with the promise of at least a temporary permanence (oxy moron I know, but, come on. This is what the life is for a world-renowned singing sensation) sometimes Cinder finds himself needing a small break from the pull of the crowd and the bright lights of fame. This need to hide lands him in the corner of the sound booth where Ellis is diligently working away.
Both men cover their true identity at their meeting. Cinder pretends to just be a random dude from the band and Ellis pretends to be the audio engineer instead of just a rigger to cover both he and his stepfather’s backsides.
They quickly reveal their truths to each other which is a fact I adore about this story. Keeping secrets from a partner is a trope used in lots of romances, but it’s one that makes me grumpy. I much prefer honestly, even when it stings, to keeping things from those you love, but I digress.
When Cinder and Ellis make their way out into the world on a few select dates, Cinder’s fans latch onto the adorable couple and make an official ship name that could be my most favorite one ever: Cinderellis.
I am a huge fan of fairy tale reimaginings, however they are a tricky tight rope to walk. Some follow the original tale so closely that they create unrealistic scenarios and come of feeling too cheesy. Others are so vague it is like an impressionistic version of the beloved story that the parallels are very hard to find.
Mx. Drae not only brings a rich writing ability to the story itself, but hir gift stretches out to include decadent descriptions of the luxurious side of Las Vegas, told in such stunning detail you feel like you’re right there, experiencing every luscious moment. And that is saying something coming from me because my exposure to Vegas basically begins and ends with watching CSI.
Cinderellis is a heartwarming story with a level of angst that is on the lower end of the spectrum, but gripping and real enough to knot your stomach and give you that delicious moment of worry that the characters you’ve grown to love may not get their happy ending.
But, never fear, because as Cinder wrote in the tear jerking song he penned for Ellis, Mx. Drae believes that there’s a happily ever after for every once upon a time. And ze delivers that in spades that leave you with a dopey grin and a happy sigh. Trust me, I speak from experience there.