Author: Keira Andrews and Leta Blake
Pages/Word Count: 106 Pages
At a Glance: Rise is everything you’d expect a fairy tale to be: magical, mystical, romantic, and it’s well written to boot.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: What happens when Jack meets a sexy man atop that beanstalk?
Rumors of treasure have long sent fortune hunters clambering up a magic beanstalk to a mysterious castle in the clouds. Survivors told of an evil giant who guards the gold and glittering jewels with savage strength. No sane man would dare risk the climb—but Jack has nothing left to lose. Shunned for his evil red hair and abandoned by his cruel lover, he’s desperate to escape his life.
Rion isn’t a giant, only a man bearing the burden of protecting his family’s legacy. It’s a lonely existence, but he’s duty bound. Then Jack appears, and Rion’s world is turned upside down. After a blazing confrontation, undeniable lust sparks. Isolated in the clouds, Jack and Rion give in to their desire and growing connection. But do they have the courage to let go of the past and follow their dreams?
Soon they must protect the treasure—and each other—from a new threat. And they have everything to lose.
Review: I love fairy tales, not the happily-ever-after (though that’s lovely) but the fact they’re so much more than they appear on the surface—the symbolism, the alchemy, the moral lessons they originated as—and re-imagined fairy tales, whether fractured or mostly true to their archetypes, are a time-honored favorite in fiction, particularly in romantic fiction. Authors Keira Andrews and Leta Blake have put their own personal stamp on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk in Rise, and have not only given the tale a gay twist but an erotic one as well.
Rise is the revised and re-released version of their story Ascending Hearts, a novella I read a couple of years ago and loved enough that I happily agreed to visit it again in its latest incarnation. The story structure hasn’t changed at all; it’s still the same love-conquers-all romance, still just as heart-tugging in its telling, still just as uplifting as the healing power of love which is the heart of this tale, and though different in scope from the original, still symbolizes the rise of a poor man from his lowly state. This time, however, Jack and his “giant” become all the richer for having found the love of a lifetime.
The fracturing of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale is the necessary cog to introduce Jack and the plight he faces, being an outcast in his village. Not because he’s gay but because he’s stigmatized as the Devil’s spawn by virtue of his red hair, a canon with a long and storied history and the impetus for his being friendless, spurned by his family, used and then cast aside. Jack is rejected and dejected, and the final crack in his already burdened soul comes at the hands of his own mother’s betrayal; though it’s this betrayal which is the catalyst for Jack’s ascension, leading him to his destiny.
Meeting Rion, the greedy giant who hoards his riches while the Outsiders below starve and suffer, begins with misperceptions and mirrored prejudices between him and Jack. It’s not until they begin to question everything they’ve been told about each other, and begin listening to their hearts’ and carnal desires rather than leaning on the long-held beliefs passed in stories from generation to generation, that this fairy tale love story begins, that the authors pull out all the stops in the romance, playing on our emotions and our hopes for that aforementioned happy ending despite what seems to be poor odds.
Rise is everything you’d expect a fairy tale to be: magical, mystical, romantic, and it’s well written to boot. I was enchanted, start to finish, and it was entirely worth the revisit.
You can buy Rise: A Gay Fairy Tale here: