Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for DRIVEN SNOW, a contemporary M/M re-imagining of Snow White by Tara Lain. As you know I liked SINDERS AND ASH, and was interested to experience this fresh re-telling of another fairytale. It’s a fun literary idea, even when it falls short for me.
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About the book:
Young Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is brilliant, beautiful, and alone. Though he’s shy, weird, and tolerated by the NorCal University students because he’s a renowned whiz at chess and helps put the school on the map, that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of the object of his desires, Riley Prince, championship quarterback.
When Riley needs a physics tutor, Snow jumps at the chance, and their relationship heats up—but Riley has to come out of the jock closet to get anywhere. Meanwhile, Snow’s one true friend and mentor, Professor Kingsley, marries a woman who secretly wants the chess tournament glory and money for herself. Soon after, the professor collapses and Snow finds himself underwater—literally. In a car!
Seven frat brothers from Grimm College rescue Snow just in time for his life to get even worse, and Snow discovers the one relationship he always wanted slipping away. With evil looming at every turn, Snow must survive if only to prove he’s the fairest of them all and regain the trust of his handsome prince.
How about a little taste?
“There are rumors here and there, but I’m a big guy, and nobody says it to my face,” Riley said.
Snow shrugged. “So why change now? You’re a senior. You can do what you want next year.”
Riley leaned his head back against the couch. “Because it’s chickenshit, like I said. People are always going to give gay guys crap when they don’t know anyone who’s gay. I can change that. A lot of people think they know me. I mean, look at you. Chess champion. Much bigger than I’ll ever be. But you never claim to be anything but gay.”
“I’m so weird, nobody’s surprised.”
“No, you’re not. You show the world that gay guys can be brilliant geniuses and beautiful. I can show them that gay guys can be big and strong and well coordinated. We all have a part to play.” He chuckled. “I have to confess, I practiced that speech, but I’m hoping it’s true.”
Snow’s heart beat so loud he could barely hear. Could this really be happening? “Umm, so you said you have enough experience to teach me.” He stared at his moo shu.
Riley sat up and got a very serious expression. “You see, Mr. Reynaldi, it’s all a matter of physics. Your quantum physics says that electrons can be in two places at the same time.” He leaned forward and pulled Snow across his lap, somehow managing to not spill any Chinese food in the process. “It’s like my tongue can be in my mouth—” He ran his soft tongue across Snow’s barely parted lips. “—and inside your mouth at the same time.” He insinuated inside and kissed Snow slowly and thoroughly. So that’s how it feels. Invasive and completing at once.
Riley pulled his lips back from the kiss but kept them close to Snow’s so his breath warmed Snow’s wet mouth. “And just as particles can be waves and waves particles, so I can feel completely relaxed and completely excited simultaneously.”
Snow grinned. “I knew physics could be fun, but this is far beyond my expectations.”
“You didn’t have enough faith in your subject matter.”
“Clearly.” He smiled and whispered, “What happens now?”
“First, I want to know if you’re interested in me, or am I just living in fantasyland?”
Snow’s eyes widened. “Oh, did I not show enough interest?”
Riley laughed. “Yes, but I don’t want to take anything for granted. You’re too special.”
My, that moo shu is interesting. “I’ve been dreaming about you ever since the first time I saw you. I didn’t think you were gay, so I never even hoped it could be more than a dream.”
Riley caressed Snow’s hair. “Think of all the time we wasted dreaming about each other.”
“In quantum physics, particles in contact become quantumly entangled. Perhaps we simply needed more time for the entangling to occur.” Snow smiled softly. This had to be a dream.
While this is the second book in the Pennymaker tales series, it’s easily enjoyed as a standalone.
Snowden is a college senior and a Grandmaster chess champion. He’s been working toward competing in a major international tournament at which he’s the favorite to win. He’s held a longstanding crush on the resident BMOC, quarterback Riley Prince, who’s a fan of Snow’s, too.
Riley needs tutoring, and Snow’s the right man for that job. Through their interactions, Riley admits that he’s a closeted gay man with a beard instead of a girlfriend. Riley wants to come out, so he can date Snow openly, but there’s a whole lotta drama in doing so.
Meanwhile, Snow’s coach and closest confidante, Prof. Kingsley reveals a rapid courtship and shotgun marriage to a suspicious woman, Anitra. When Prof Kinsgley suddenly falls ill, Anitra steps in as Snow’s mentor. Problem is Anitra’s a chess champion in her own right, and the decisions she’s making–to withdraw Snow from the chess championships–are bizarre. Snow’s afraid he’ll lose the last parental figure in his life, and he’s in worse trouble, especially when Anitra enlists Hunter her well-endowed *wink wink* “cousin” Hunter to keep Snow from competing…by any means necessary.
As Snow and Riley explore their potential, scandal tears through Snow’s world, and he’s even more friendless than he’d ever been. There’s a bit of contortion to bring Pennymaker back to this tale. It felt more contrived than organic, especially as Eudora seemed a capable fairy godmother for this story. That said, I never had a question about who was behind the tragic events of the book. I was pretty peeved that the homophobic football players were barely even reprimanded, let alone punished for their nastiness.
This book, being based on the tale of Snow White was much darker than the other modern fairytale, SINDERS AND ASH. I thought it would build more depth in the characters, but I didn’t feel the tension. There were a lot of plot arcs, and Snow was a pretty sympathetic character, but I didn’t really sense his agency. He seemed to be a victim for so much of the book, and Riley was a wishy-washy love interest for a good part, too. The ending was a bit convenient, even for a fairytale. I liked the sexytimes, because they showed a lot of sensitivity and vulnerability. I get that these are young men–barely 21 in fact, but they sometimes read as juvenile, to me. The chess theme was an interesting one, as I’m a geek. I’m not a chess player, and I still understood all those bits just fine.
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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: