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Monday, January 10, 2011

Sweet Son by Heidi Cullinan

Sweet Son by Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (120 pgs)
Other: M/M, BDSM, anal sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Pride and desire send prosperous merchant Eryn on a personal quest to find the perfect man to share his life. Eryn has heard of a mythical land beyond the mountains, where it is rumored that a benevolent, magical prince rules a kingdom of equality and harmony, and so he sets out, alone and determined... but even the most focused of determination will only take Eryn so far.

A destined true love does wait for Eryn, but the path to his future is rife with risk, and he will face not only his deepest fears, but also pain, torture, and bone-deep desolation as he struggles to reach Wyn, a sweet, beautiful, and fragile man trapped in an enchantment. If Eryn is to have any chance at a happily ever after, he will have to conquer the illusions that have always consumed him, even if it means sacrificing life and limb for love.

Snow White has certainly never been like this. Eryn is on a quest to find his one true love but that quest is littered with hardships. From witches to bandits to magicians, demons, wizards, and a host of despairing turns, this fairy tale is anything but easy. Yet Eryn never gives up his quest for his true love and eventually may win his true love’s safety and love.

Sweet Son is a re-telling of the classic fairy tale Snow White, just in the format of gay romance. Either that’ll scare readers off or having them running to find out what happens as Eryn is on a quest to save his true love, the story’s clever Snow White. The quest has many familiar elements and themes as Eryn must prove his worth before Snow White’s guardians will allow Eryn to gain his true love. These quests are anything but easy and their violence and dark themes may bother some readers. The erotic content, which is extremely high for this story, is all through BDSM events. First through slavery Eryn falls into but willing in many ways, and later through Eryn and his true love.

Some readers may not appreciate either the dark violence or the BDSM elements. These seem opposite to the idea of fairy tales, especially this particular classic, but the story attempts to be rather faithful to the moral themes. In some ways this works and other ways it falls short since the characters feel incomplete, especially Eryn’s true love. Eryn supposedly matures and changes through his trials but really it just feels like a lot of abuse and pain he has to go through to prove himself. At one point I wished Eryn would just give up but thankfully he perseveres and a happy ending does come.

Sweet Son is not a story everyone will appreciate. There is heavy BDSM sex scenes with some non-consensual sex that eventually turns into BDSM, though dubious at best. There is a lot of violence, though the magic of fairy tales always erases any lingering problems. The fantasy setting allows the story to be simultaneously very dark and yet have a happy ending that would otherwise seem impossible. For readers that enjoy reinterpretations of their classic fairy tales with a dark, erotic edge this may work.

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