A Tale from St. Giles
Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.
As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.
When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.
But he isn’t the only one with a secret.
At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.
This was a sweet and mellow modern take on Cinderella, refreshingly focusing on one of the stepsiblings rather than the Cinderella character.
Florian, the stepbrother in need of redeeming, is not such a blackguard as the title or knowledge of the original fairytale might lead you to suppose. He is quite a pleasant young man, no bully or anything like that, but he keeps to himself and basically looks the other way for years any time his mom goes all evil stepmother on his younger stepsister, Isabella, and therein lies the rub.
Ella is a wonderful young girl, very loving and forgiving, and she really blossoms once Florian decides to help her and starts sticking up for her at home. I love that this particular Cinderella gets a magic night at the ball, but then goes off on an adventure and gets herself an education rather than focusing on getting a boyfriend. She’s only eighteen, after all.
We only have Florian’s point of view throughout the story, which I thought a bit of a pity. Dieter’s perspective from time to time would have been helpful. As it is, he remains very much the enigmatic Count. He appears to be the more interesting of the two men, but we know next to nothing of what he feels or thinks. We also get very little German endearments or quotes, though that could have really livened things up. Verdammt! Das ist wirklich schade.
Florian and Dieter gravitate towards each other very easily, but it all happens so mildly, almost tepidly, that I can’t say that I was very engrossed by their story.
It takes them a long time to realize and speak of their feelings for each other and when they finally do so, Florian seems resigned to an unhappy outcome, thinking that it’ll be over almost instantly, because Dieter is set to return to Germany soon. Florian, with all his insecurities, can be rather passive, and a bit of a damsel in distress at times. It doesn’t even seem to occur to him that he can fight to keep Dieter in his life, one way or another.
Of course, this is a romance and a fairytale, so Florian and Dieter are assured of their HEA. However, there is still a spot of bother to overcome, remember the evil stepmother and the other, even more evil, stepbrother?
This part of the plot ups the stakes for all involved and brings with it an element of danger and emotional distress that pushes the characters to evolve and grow. Nice twist!
This is the second book in the Tales from St. Giles series, but it can be read perfectly as a standalone.
Narration: The narrator had a warm and pleasant voice, but I felt a bit too much like he was just reading the story out loud instead of really bringing the characters to life. He made Florian’s mom sound really shrill, which was a bit unpleasant to listen to, but perfectly in keeping with her personality.
Number of stars out of 5: 3