Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cinder-Ugly by Laura Strickland

by Laura Strickland

Genre: Sweet Fantasy Romance

From the moment Cindra is born, misshapen and ill-formed in face and body, her beautiful mother hides her away, allowing the world to see only her other three perfect children. Cindra, raised by an aged nurse and assigned humble duties in the kitchen, receives little affection and plenty of abuse from both her mother and sisters. Starved for beauty, she longs most of all for love. 

Prince Rupert, newly returned from an education outside the kingdom and forced to take over duties as king, sees the beauty of Cindra’s spirit.  In her sister-in-law’s garden, he courts her with rare flowers and nearly makes her forget her mother’s hate. But when war tears them apart, will Cindra have the courage to stand on her own? And when faced with the challenge of leading Rupert’s subjects through a siege, will the strength of her compassion be enough to sustain a kingdom?

This is not a simple fairy-tale,

but a complex story of deep emotions.

Cinder-Ugly by Laura Strickland is a tear jerker for sure and a much harsher tale than the tale of Cinderella. However, it is far more plausible than the original. This is a story of a cruel mother who taught her two beautiful daughters her meanness and selfishness. Then when the woman had a difficult birth with her third daughter, resulting in Cinder being less than ‘perfect’, the woman disowned the baby, hiding it in the attic from everyone. But babies grow, so eventually, Cinder sneaks out of the attic to attend a fine party downstairs. That resulted in a brutal whipping.

When her older brother gets married, he invites Cinder to come live with him and his new wife, Donella, a kind and gentle young woman. Cinder is at first afraid to leave home. While it is a hellish place, it is the only place she has ever known.

But war is coming, and that changes all for everyone. And for most, it was not a good change, but for Cinder, she moved to her brothers home, where she discovered love, not just from Robin and Donella, but from the Prince, who had traveled all over the world and had learned the difference between a beautiful soul and mere physical beauty. He fell in love with Cinder at once. While it took Cinder time a while to accept that she was worthy of being loved, she finally accepted that the prince did love her.

If the author had wanted a fairy tale, it would have ended there. But that is not what happened.

The king dies, Prince Rupert becomes the new king, and a neighboring king declares war. And war is hard on all. However, for Cinder, it was life-changing. King Rupert asked for her hand, married her, and bed her in short order, then headed off to war, hoping she now carried his child.

Having no choice, Cinder becomes a grand, helpful, caring monarch, even as their world changes for the worst.

What follows will make you cry, angry, and appreciative of your own life. The author does not balk at killing off good people, because in real life, during a war, that is what happens. So keep some tissues nearby.

Thankfully, there is a happy ending, but I’ll let you discover that and the many nuances of the story I left out.

I dropped the tray. It fell hard with a clatter that echoed through the room. The remaining tarts—still a generous load—flew everywhere spewing their jam fillings as they went—on the carpet, on my shoes, on the Queen’s skirt and all over the Prince’s sapphire blue legs.

Everything froze. The music paused, everyone stopped talking. Someone laughed in horror and said, “Oh, my God!”

Mother’s face seized in a rictus; she leered at me. For an instant I could see nothing else. Not my father, not Bethessa who, I’m pretty sure, had laughed, not even the mess that surrounded me like the fallout from an explosion.

Just her anger. Her horror. Her disgust.

Then the moment’s paralysis broke. Mother reached out quick as a wasp and slapped me. The blow took me on the cheek and its force turned my head. Instant tears flooded my eyes.

“Stupid girl!” She drew back her hand to strike again. Two things happened before she could: Father cried, “Erikka—it was my fault!” And the Prince stepped between me and my mother, and seized her wrist.

“Please, Madame, do not. It was but an accident.”

No rebuke colored his tone. He sounded exceedingly polite. But I knew my mother took it as a rebuke and a public one. Her face stained with ugly red and she transferred her glare from me to the Prince.

Even at that moment, that terrible, terrible moment I knew she would never forgive me for this.

Award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Born and raised in Western New York, she’s pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Although she enjoys travel, she’s usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Author of numerous Historical and Contemporary Romances, she is the creator of the Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city. Cinder-Ugly is the kind of fairy tale she thinks all children should read.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me and for the lovely review!


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