Florian Cinderson is an artist and the chief designer for the town’s porcelain studio. Florian has a gift. He paints birds so beautifully, they look almost real. Spending his spare time in the marsh birdwatching is his way to escape the reality of his home life. He lives with his mother, brother, and step sister and is miserable. One day, out in the marsh, Florian hears a voice swearing in German. When he has a look at what’s happening, he finds a man dressed in old fashioned bird watching attire, and that man is stuck in the mud. Florian helps the man and learns his name is Dieter.
Count Dieter von Hollenbach is in town to present an award to the porcelain studio. Like Florian, he enjoys bird watching. He didn’t expect to get stuck in the marsh, but meeting Florian makes a bad situation a little better. As time passes, Dieter finds himself falling for Florian (and Florian for him), but he keeps his royal heritage to himself. He wants to be sure Florian loves him for himself, not because he’s royalty.
It’s decided the award ceremony Dieter is here for will be turned into a grand masquerade ball, and it will be an event to remember. On what is to be the most wonderful night of Florian and Dieter’s lives, however, misunderstandings and revelations threaten to ruin the budding love the men feel for each other. Is there a way to get past these hurdles, or will Dieter return to Europe alone while Florian stays behind, living his boring and frustrating life forever?
God, I loved this! When done well, modern fairy tales make wonderful reads. Andrew Grey certainly does this well, and Redeeming the Stepbrother was a joy. I read it nonstop on the drive to Las Vegas, and it kept me entertained and enthralled through the three hour trip. Thanks to the blurb, I knew what I was going to get, and I was excited. I love the Cinderella story, and I couldn’t wait to see what Grey did with it.
I found Florian and Dieter to be charming and sweet. Both men had their own qualities that made me love them. Florian was a talented loner who was miserable at home, and Dieter was a strong, confident man with a gregarious nature. They met cute in the marsh, and they stayed cute through the whole book. They fell for each other rather quickly, but I didn’t find that to be a problem. Fairy tales are all about love at first sight. I loved how Dieter wanted to court Florian and how protective of him he became. It was never overwhelming and flowed naturally.
The romance is beautiful (and sexy), but it was the rest of the story where the author really shined. He wrote the perfect Cinderella story. Florian’s mother is a shrieking she devil with a drinking problem and mostly likely is bipolar. His brother is the stereotypical jerk who is their mother’s favorite. Isabella is 18 years old, trapped living in the house her now dead father loved, and is treated like an indentured servant (Isabella Cinderson, get it?). All of this served as points of tension and it comes to a head at the ball. I don’t want to give too much away, but the silent auction becomes alarming for Florian, but he recovers himself quickly and it made me actually cheer.
I mentioned a misunderstanding, and I don’t want to give that away either. However, I will say it causes Florian to run away, and even though there wasn’t a pumpkin carriage waiting for him, he feels like a fool. Don’t worry. It’s resolved quickly and leads to the happily ever after we all were waiting for.
This is the second book in the Tales from St. Giles series. I reviewed the first, Taming the Beast, and I enjoyed it very much as well. It’s not absolutely necessary to read it before you dive into Redeeming the Stepbrother, but there are a few character crossovers. I highly recommend this book, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what Grey writes next.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.