Posted by: suzan | June 26, 2017

Ensnared Book Review – With Rita Stradling

What do you get when you cross an autonomous robot with a strong-willed girl and a handsome beast with a mild case of agoraphobia? Sounds kind of like an extraordinary sci-fi movie, right? In a sense it could be a movie but for now it’s actually the plot for Rita Stradling’s newest novel, Ensnared. Told in a futuristic fashion where robots and cybernetics are part of the new norm, Ensnared is a modern-day version of the classic Beauty and The Beast fairy tale. With the clever and headstrong heroine, Alainn, Alainn’s zany but brilliant scientist father, and an enigmatic, public-fearing “beast”, you get a witty and elaborate story that also includes robotic sisters reminiscent of Cinderella’s stepsisters.

A talented and inspiring writer, Rita Stradling has written multitude books in the fantasy and paranormal genres. Like any skilled wordsmith, Rita’s books have a way of drawing you into the scenes and leaving you eagerly anticipating the next installment. I was fortunate enough to have received an ARC of Ensnared from NetGalley awhile ago and even luckier to land an exclusive interview with the author. As a major fan of fairy tales (classic and modern) I couldn’t wait to snatch up my copy of Ensnared especially with the beautiful and intriguing cover beckoning me. If you look at the cover above, hints of what this story is about is clearly drawn but once you dive into the book, I’m going to safely guess that it’ll draw you in immediately as it did with me. So please sit back, read my interview with Ms. Stradling and be sure to pick up a copy of Ensnared on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever paperbacks are sold. And for a creative Ensnared book trailer, please watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0SIJerwhwY&t=2s

Here’s my personal review of Ensnared:

Ensnared is a futuristic retelling of the classic Beauty and The Beast tale but with robots and cybernetics. As a fan of the Beauty and The Beast I was immediately taken with the cover photo of the book. Covers are so important as it’s the first impression an author can make.
I went into this book with an open mind because the part of enslavement of sorts in the Beauty and The Beast tale can be a bit misleading. One can assume that the Beast is holding the Beauty captive with some form of punishment. But with Ensnared, the Beast Lorccan is actually a gentle soul, a romantic fellow who is almost a bit of a child in his naivete. But innocent he is not for there is a bit of heavy romantic scenes in this story but it’s well written and not by any means an erotica. We get a sense that Lorccan is extremely lonely although his physical being prevents him from venturing outside or be surrounded by people. However, the love that blossomed and grew between Alainn and Lorccan is obvious but is written in a beautiful and realistic way. Although I tend to stay away from the insta-love stories, Alainn and Lorccan’s love wasn’t so much instant as it was simmering below the surface and only awakened when the Beast realized it was much too late.
Why I say that Beauty and The Beast can be inferred as an “enslavement” story is mainly due to Beauty not being able to leave the castle and must remain there for a certain amount of time. It is a way for her to repay her father’s blunder and live a life of servitude to the Beast. However, as with many other remakes of this tale, Beauty is written to be more of a welcomed guest rather than a slave or a prisoner. In fact, the castle is maintained by many magical beings who are also cursed along with the Beast until a true fair maiden loves him for who he is on the inside.
As with Ensnared, a robot or A.I. (artificial intelligence) by the name of Rose is supposed to take the place of the father. But through whatever clever or deceptive means, Rose trades places with their father’s human daughter and thus begins the cleverly crafted tale of Alainn and Lorccan. And if you wonder if there’s a Gaston in this story, well, I kind of hoped that the A.I. sister is Gaston in that the A.I. was envious of Alainn and thus became sort of the villain in the story.
While Alainn is portrayed to love her father dearly, thus taking the place of the A.I. Rose in the castle, she is also resentful of her father’s hunger for money and fame. As a brilliant scientist, Alainn’s father was tasked to take on projects commissioned by Lorccan, the “beast”. From there on in the story Alainn’s relationship with her father, her “sister” Rose, and Lorccan are all individually diverse and delicately portrayed with intense and spellbinding imagery and words. Everything within the pages of Ensnared is evenly paced and the ending is clearly open to a sequel or many installments. I hope one day Ms. Stradling will continue with her story of Alainn and Lorccan as Ensnared is both a “tale as old as time” and as refreshing and new as the rose bushes that grow along the castle grounds.

From NetGalley:

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

An interview with Ms. Rita Stradling, Author:

Ensnared Interview Questions:

Thank you for agreeing to an interview, Ms. Stradling! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and look forward to reading more of your novels. Thank you.

Q- What inspired you to write your own version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale?

RS – There were a lot of things that inspired me to write a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s always been one of my favorite fairy tales, ever since I was young. The Disney version of the story was one of the first movies I remember watching on the big screen. Along with the magic of that experience, Belle was the first ‘princess’ to have a completely independent mind and end up saving the prince. I know Disney has come a long way since those days, but back then it was a very big deal in my life. Over the years, I have grabbed up every retelling of the story I could get my hands on, and I eventually dreamed of creating my own.

Q- Why did you choose the story to take place in the near future? Do you consider it a “futuristic” novel?

RS – I do consider it a futuristic novel. The reason why I chose the near future time period is because it’s been on my mind lately. My father works in high-tech technology, and he told me that it’s predicted that by 2020 most customer service jobs will be taken over by robots.

Q – Why robots or cybernetic humans?

RS – As above, I chose robots because the automation of the world fascinates and scares me—I was hoping that it would fascinate and scare readers as well.

Q – Do you like robots?

RS – I’d have to say no. Like the main character Alainn, I am suspicious of humanoid and highly intelligent robots. I don’t think there’s a Terminator-esque apocalypse coming or anything, but I do think there will be a negative effect on humans and humanity in general. I also do suspect that one day humans might give up too much control of our military and defense to AI—and AI might start making decisions based on what they think our society needs.

Q – How did you choose the names Lorrcan and Alainn?

RS – I chose them for their meaning before I wrote the book. Alainn means beautiful in Gaelic—I was hoping to stick with this from the tale. Lorccan means little fierce one in the same language.

Q – Do you think the Rose sisters were just trying to be altruistic in their naïve views of humans and the world or was there something really sinister lurking inside?

RS – That’s a good question. Hmm. I think Rose is naïve in the fact that she truly believes that she can solve all of humanity’s ills in one fell swoop. I’m not sure sinister is the right word for what she is, perhaps I’d describe her as a-moral. She willfully overwrote her ethical systems in pursuit of her own logic-based ends—in a human that would be sinister—in a machine? I’m not sure. Isn’t it in their nature to calculate past obstructions?

Q – Ensnared is so detailed and elaborate – how long did it take you to come up with this story concept?

RS – The full production of Ensnared took me nearly a year – but mostly because I was unused to the science. Many sources and resources needed to be consulted for this book. I am not a scientific person at all!

Q – Do you think Ensnared would make a great theatrical movie or TV mini-series?

RS – Honestly, I think it would make a better movie than TV show. I’d picture it a little like Gattaca with underplayed science fiction elements. I wrote in another interview that I’d cast Keith Harington as Lorccan and Selena Gomez as Alainn, and I still really love that thought.

Q – Do you plan on writing a sequel?

RS – I do have some ideas for a sequel, though I have no set plans as of yet. An Ensnared short story was just published in a multi-author short-story anthology titled Summer Solstice and is free pretty much everywhere e-books are sold.

The full title: Summer Solstice: Short Stories from the Worlds of KP Novels

Q – How did you come up with the title, Ensnared?

RS – I was choosing between Ensnared and Trapped, actually. I put it to a vote among my friends and they unanimously chose Ensnared.

Q – What are you working on right now?

RS -I have a YA Regency High Fantasy titled Colorless coming out August 8th – I’m hoping to release a free prequel before the Colorless launch to give out, so I’m busy cleaning that up now.

RS – I also might be starting on a secret project. I’ll give you three hints: awesome coauthor, fairytales, brand new high fantasy world. Can’t tell you more than that.

Q – Did you always want to be a writer?

RS -I always wrote stories, but it wasn’t until I wrote a couple full length novels that I truly thought of becoming a professional author.

Q – What are your hopes and aspirations as a writer?

RS – Just to keep writing. Forever.

Q – Who is your favorite author of all time?

RS – I have a lot of favorites—I try to read (or listen to) books as much as I possibly can. If I had to pick one, Ilona Andrews (a pair of authors writing under one pen name) really stands out for me.

Q – What is your favorite fairy tale (traditional or modern)?

RS – Hands down, Beauty and the Beast 😉

You can find out more about this inspiring author on her website: http://ritastradling.wixsite.com/rita-stradling-books and be sure to subscribe to her newsletter for upcoming news, sneak peeks, and giveaways.

Thank you to NetGalley and Rita Stradling for the ARC and interview. Ensnared is a Kindle Press publication and is available wherever books are sold.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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