Hi there! Today I’m sharing my re view for SINDERS AND ASH, a contemporary retelling of Cinderella, with a M/M romance twist. You know I adore Tara Lain’s contemporary romances (Knight of Ocean Avenue and Knave of Broken Hearts) so I jumped at the chance to read this one!
Check out the sexy teaser below, and make sure to enter the $20 Amazon GC giveaway.
Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school. Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashford Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America—and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.
Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes twelve, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding—but one isn’t a woman. Will the slipper fit? Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.
How about a sexy little taste?
Ash’s heart hammered. He cradled Mark’s face, his fingers overlapping the knit of the cap. Mark’s breath smelled like coconut, and his lips looked more delicious than the crème brûlée. Okay, be gentle. Don’t scare him. Gently he laid his lips against Mark’s. One second. Sweet. Two seconds. Exploration. Three seconds. Hot! Oh God, heat crept from that soft contact up to Ash’s head and straight down to his cock. Whoa. Down, boy. He pulled back. Needed more control.
Before he got an inch away, Mark grabbed his head and pulled him back until his tongue pressed like a hot intruder into Ash’s mouth. Oh yeah. Ash slid his hands down Mark’s round butt and tugged him close. Hmmm.Got a nice moan on that one. Mark ate at Ash’s mouth, sucking in his lips. His tongue pressed deep. Wow. This guy was not kidding. Had Ash just thought he should go easy?
Mark pulled back a little and sipped at Ash’s lips, then ran his tongue over the bottom one. First outside and then… oh God, he slipped his tongue inside Ash’s lip and caressed that soft, sensitive skin.
Sweet Jesus, he couldn’t stand up. Ash leaned back hard against the counter, but he knew his knees were crumpling. Strong hands reached around and smoothed over his ass, and then a finger pressed against the crack of his butt like Mark was tracing the seam of the denim—up and down. Jesus, Ash’s cock throbbed. Too much blood in there. Too long since that cock had any exercise. He wanted to rip his pants down and let that finger do its business where it belonged.
Like Mark had read his mind, one hand moved to the front and began to unfasten the buttons on Ash’s fly. Shit, he couldn’t help it. His hips pushed forward, forcing his cock against that hand like a puppy looking for milk.
Mark murmured, “Yessss.” He undid the last button, slipped his hand into the top of Ash’s boxer briefs, and found the promised land.
Whoa! Slow down there boys! LOL. Having read that scene, I can tell you, it only heats up from there!
This is a cute tale with creative use of the Cinderella trope. Mark Sintorella, “Sinders” is a housekeeper at a posh NY resort known for its privacy and discretion. Mark is a self-trained clothing designer and spends all his spare money and time sewing couture gowns for women, using himself as a model for patterning. Because Mark’s a man, he’s often given the unwelcome task of cleaning the many fireplaces that decorate the hotel. He’s versatile, however, (yes, pun intended) in that he also works as a server in the dining room when they are short-staffed. Enter a funny little man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who assures Mark that his androgynous physique and face are the ticket to getting his designs noticed, and Pennymaker promises to introduce Mark to prominent fashion designers. Only, when he does so, Mark is identified as “Mariel,” Pennymaker’s “niece.”
Mark’s caught up in the hubbub surrounding the arrival of billionaire Ashton Armitage and his impending wedding.
Problem? Ash isn’t engaged.
Nope, not engaged and not even interested in getting married. However, Ash has two weeks to find a spouse or risk losing his trust fund. His grandfather had written a clause into the trust mandating Ash be married by his 25th birthday or his entire trust would be liquidated and given to charity. Ash is the typical playboy, without any of the scandal. He’s got a prime education, but never worked, and he’s a closeted gay man. He’s considering making an ‘arrangement’ with a suitable woman. one who would understand he has no sexual interest in her, and would be a good companion for the ten years the trust proscribes his marriage must last.
While staying in the posh hotel, Ash meets two women, Bitsy, who has no desire to marry him, and Mariel, niece of Mr. Pennymaker. While he’s intrigued by Bitsy, and is sure he could get along with her, Mariel turns him on. And, well, that’s NEVER happened. He’s not sure if Mariel is Pennymaker’s niece, or “piece,” but he wants to know her better. And, finding out that Mariel is Mark is only more appealing.
I liked the fast-paced transitions in this story. We have several points of view, mostly Mark’s but also Ash and even Ash’s BFF Ronnie, who has her eyes on the voluptuous Bitsy.
There are some good mis-directions, here, and a couple indecent proposals. I was glad there was so much candor, actually. I didn’t want to hate any of the characters for being liars, and I didn’t have to. As this is a M/M romance expect Mark and Ash to get to together. And expect it to be sexysexy. The whole drag thing, Mark/Mariel was a little campy and also a little rom-com-y, and I was reminded that this is more of a romantic comedy than a gritty romance. There are preposterous stakes, marrying in two weeks to receive a trust, and an equally preposterous wedding scene, which (after a big switcheroo) was something actually totally endearing when I read it.
I liked Ash and wanted him to grow up, which he did. I thought he was a little clueless regarding the clauses of his trust agreement, but that only made him seem more romantic and lovable for being willing to toss it all away. Mark is a good sport about a lot of stuff, and I was glad to see that his hard labor was appropriately rewarded. Plus, who doesn’t love androgynous fashion models and kitchen sex? Answer: Nobody.
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About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her bestselling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.
She lives with her soulmate husband and her soulmate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at: