book review · gay romance · lgbt · short story

Book Review: Rapunzel’s Surrender by Jacinta Laurenti

 

She is queen and a widow, and an invading army is approaching the castle. The enemy covets the mountain of gold buried under the fortress, and many of the queen’s subjects have fled.

As a bitter wind sweeps over the castle walls and whispers to the queen, a stranger arrives at the gate begging to be allowed in. She’s injured, but Rapunzel recognizes the woman’s face from her visions and her name from ancient tales.

Irmela!

Is she a spy? 
Or an enchantress? 
Or both?

The queen has Irmela locked in the dungeon, but despite the danger, her majesty cannot resist the stunning woman, and she traipses into the damp freezing recesses of the castle to interrogate her.

Irmela has a dark history but she and Rapunzel are connected as though a web of invisible thread draws them together.

While burning oil, brimstone and hot sand rain down on the castle, the queen is in turmoil. She battles not only an enemy and her family’s disapproval but also her own pride. She’s torn between duty and love and tells herself that giving her heart to an immortal is foolhardy.

But the ever-present wind, never willing to do Rapunzel’s bidding, might – after centuries of being its own master – offer her and Irmela its support.Rapunzel may not be in a tower, but she is a prisoner – of sorts. 

tl;dr: Lackluster world building, thin character development along with some unfortunate word choices make Rapunzel’s Surrender feel rough around the edges.

I personally felt a bit imprisoned by this short story. From the first chapter I had trouble connecting with Queen Rapunzel and bouncing from past to present to hazy visions brought on the wind never gave me a chance to get to know her. Unfortunately, this persisted throughout the story with point-of-view changes coming close to head hopping and leaving some scenes a muddled mess.

Then there was some very unfortunate phrasing during the actual sex that immediately turned me off to the whole scene. A woman’s vaginal secretions being called ‘broth’ pulled me right out of the whole story and it took me a bit to return to it and be able to take it seriously.

Throughout the story, Rapunzel worries if she’s worthy of being a queen. Her actions clearly show she’s not. Inviting a known sorceress and possible spy into her room just because the wind once whispered her name and gave her sexy visions seems irresponsible in the extreme to me. Then again that may just be me. Perhaps if I’d been given a chance to get to know her instead of being told about her childhood I might have understood her motivations better. As it is her motivations are conflicting and contradictory. All in all, it felt like reading fanfiction of a fandom I’m not familiar with.

There is so much potential here and I feel bad for being harsh, but a good solid content edit would do wonders to clear up the confusion and put the focus where it should be.

All that being said, Laurenti has a nice lyrical style that needs the polish a good experienced editor could give.

You can get your copy here.

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