Hi DreamReaders! Ashlyn Kane here. You all love a good fairy tale, right? Me too. All those tropes and archetypes. The dashing hero. The magic spell. The impossible task. And, of course, true love’s kiss.
You might’ve guessed from the title of this post that I have a thing about that last one, huh? I mean, depending on which version you subscribe to (the differences between Disney and Grimm’s are not just cosmetic!), there’s Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Frog Prince, yada yada yada. But most of the time doesn’t it seem too easy? I mean, how convenient is it that true love’s kiss works on someone you’ve barely even met, or who’s been in a magic coma for your whole life? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.
Of course, a few more creative stories put a twist on this. Without going into spoiler territory, think about Frozen. Shrek. Enchanted. The Princess and the Frog. Maleficent. Once Upon a Time. These stories all give the trope a new spin—it doesn’t work, or it doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it’s supposed to, or it turns out not to be true love, or the true love isn’t romantic, or, or, or. I love it when the writers up the difficulty level or subvert the trope entirely. It keeps things fresh, you know?
When the call for submissions for the Dreamspun Beyond line came out, I knew I wanted to write about a curse that would break with true love’s kiss. (Not first kiss, though—I mean, that’s kind of Puritanical. Who hasn’t made out with a few frogs on their quest for Prince(ss) Charming, am I right?) But I didn’t want to make it easy.
Imaginary protagonist: Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I’m a curse vic, so kiss me, baby!
That would be a pretty short book. So I made the curse a giant magical cockblock. No dating, very limited flirting. Definitely no sex. A guy would be pretty anxious to see a cursebreaker. And that’s where the story begins.
Try a taste of Hex and Candy today!
True love’s kiss can break the curse. But then what?
Cole Alpin runs a small-town candy store. He visits his grandmother twice a week. And sometimes he breaks curses.
Leo Ericson’s curse is obvious right away, spiderwebbing across his very nice body. Though something about it worries Cole, he agrees to help—with little idea of what he’s getting into.
Leo is a serial monogamist, but his vampire ex has taken dating off the table with his nasty spell, and Leo needs Cole’s companionship as much as his help. When the hex proves to be only the beginning of his problems, Leo seeks refuge at Cole’s place. Too bad magic prevents him from finding refuge in Cole’s arms.
Cole’s never had a boyfriend, so how can he recognize true love? And there’s still the matter of the one responsible for their troubles in the first place….
Excerpt and Coloring Page
Cole appeared in the doorway. “What did you—oh.” He peered over Leo’s shoulder—a neat trick, seeing as he was several inches shorter—and then came around to his side. “Can I?”
Leo nodded, still holding the pillowcase open. Cole reached in.
The object was six or so inches long. At first Leo thought it was a cross. Then Cole turned it over and he saw the face.
His knees wobbled. “What is that?”
“You know what it is.” Cole set it faceup on the bed. “It’s you.”
Art by Emily Liu at https://www.emilyliuwho.com/
ASHLYN KANE is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.
On any given day, she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance-novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.