Review: The Silksmith's Girl by Reece Pine

Bearded woman Rudolph joined the circus to find a wealthy husband. The star attraction, the lofty silksmith, shares his caravan and his bed with her while he helps her to arrange marriage meetings in the towns they visit. But as she meets and rejects each suitor, Rudolph realizes the only person she really wants is the silksmith himself…

Where to start... well, let's start at the beginning. I chose this book for three reasons: (1) I've been trying to broaden my QUILTBAG horizons beyond the B, G, Q and T and this story has an intersex character; (2) the LT3P website listed bondage in the content notes. How am I to resist bondage? I'm not made of stone!; (3) the cover. That cover is sexy.

Within the first chapter I knew. Even though it's only six chapters these were the longest six chapters I've muddled through in recent memory.

My primary issue is the writing style. It's showy, ostentatious and hard to follow. Example:

Just as he had commanded attention during his act, he stole the center of gravity in the room from me, at once an older more illustrious star illuminating the belt of homely detritus scattered around us.

I mean, YAY for Pine for being master and commander of the English language but what? There is purple and there's... whatever exceeds purple. Sentences filled with metaphors, some of which were, admittedly, really beautifully crafted, but is it necessary for every sentence to be a quarter of a mile long and riddled with metaphors? Purple done well and with a purpose I can do, but this? Apparently, I've found my purple limit. 

There's an odd juxtaposition between the grandiose writing style and the dialogue, like going from champagne to Schlitz. It's jarring especially when considering we're supposedly reading this from Rudolph's first person perspective. Why does she think like Margaret Thatcher yet talk like Eliza Doolittle? 

Cheers to that.

All the flowery words and ambiguous prose got in the way of this story, IMO. Though without them and the numerous sex scenes this novella would've been more along the lines of a pamphlet. So, there is that. There's little relationship or character development and the plot itself is dull. My inability to understand what motivates these characters, understand their connection or understand their actions precluded me from connecting to them.

The gist is Rudolph is intersex with a beard and insists she's a "girl". Not a lady or a woman, a girl. Why she finds the differentiation necessary IDK. Of course, she joins the carnival with the primary objective of finding a suitable husband. How the two are related continues to elude me. She almost immediately meets, and is swooning over, the silksmith. We never learn his name which shouldn't have surprised me since we didn't learn Rudolph's name until the mid-thirtieth percentile range. IDK if it's a D/s thing or he refuses to tell her or if he just keeps forgetting or if it's an attempt to foster intrigue. I just don't know.

The silksmith's fondness for endearments... *sigh* I like and endearment as much as the next person but most have the one go-to endearment for their beloved. I'm not sure if he feels like one endearment is for quitters or if there's some sort of memory issue at play because he calls her poppy and puffin and poinsettia and pumpkin and Christ, I can't remember them all. Why do they all start with 'P'? WHHHHYYYYY??????? Is there some sort of significance? 

I'm assuming this a historical novella, but yet again, I'm not sure because there's nothing to indicate when or where it takes place. Considering the content and descriptions of this circus it could be historical or AU. Who the fuck knows? And at this point, I have zero fucks to give. I am T-I-R-E-D.

There is a significant amount of sex and not a lot of bondage. Figures. And guess what? There were some seriously awkward descriptors of the sexy times. I mean, to each their own but... ewww. Since when is the word "chew" sexy? I could go on but... on second thought, no. No, I really can't.

The cherry on top of this awkward AF sundae was the ending. It was strange and slightly depressing. Of course it was.

I truly feel like a bitch in a china shop writing a bomb review on the release day of a new author, but truly nothing worked for me. I won't deny that Pine can turn a phrase, but I felt like I needed a magic decoder ring to understand this novella's vague and muzzy prose and that more than anything else frustrated me. 

I can't recommend this novella nor can I envision reading something else from this author in the future.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley.

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