William Prinzing, affectionately known as “Prin,” is a grade A student and star soccer player, with his sights set on a position at Gotham Pharmaceuticals. Between studying and sports, Prin has little time for anything else, despite also running his own landscaping business, of which esteemed philanthropist Damien Gotham is the latest client. Lucci was twelve when he was bought from his parents and taken from his trailer park home to Tower Estate. Over the eight years Lucci has lived there, he has been molded into Mr. Gotham’s idea of the perfect son, through various methods of abuse. It is Lucci’s sadness and beauty, and Prin’s kindness and friendship, that draws the two young men to each other — but for their feelings to develop they have to break all the rules, which could put both of them in danger. In a Gilded Cage is a perfect example of a fractured fairy tale with a gay romance twist. Mia Kerick draws on all the expected elements of the traditional genre in her retelling of Rapunzel, including Lucci as the trapped protagonist, Prin as the romantic hero, and Mr. Gotham as the twisted villain. The abuse Lucci is subjected to elevates In a Gilded Cage from a childhood bedtime story to one suited to a more mature audience, whilst the ages of Lucci and Prin and their relative innocence mean the novel is appropriate for new adult readers. Aside from In a Gilded Cage being classified as a fairy tale retelling it is unclear where it falls in the gay fiction genre. Whilst Kerick makes it clear that Prin has had sexual experiences with girls, Prin himself asserts that he is not interested in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, though he also admits that his feelings for Lucci confuse him: I want to be more than friends. Does this make me gay? Or just gay for Lucci? So, is a In a Gilded Cage a bisexual story? A gay for you story? Or just a straightforward gay romance? I will leave that up to you. In a Gilded Cage‘s real beauty lies with the vulnerability of Lucci and Prin and the way that Kerick allows them to express themselves, moving seamlessly between their narratives, but at the same time keeping their voices very individual. Lucci is childlike in his wonder, having been locked away from the world for eight years, with only Mr. Gotham and his three servants as Lucci’s other companions. Ironically, he is also eloquent, “proper,” and very straightforward. I think that the reason we do not find the details of his abuse more traumatic is because Lucci is detached from the events: But as Father sometimes says, I am a clever boy. Knowing I cannot survive on such meager rations of food and water that he has been providing since the night I insulted his pride, I finally broke down and expressed the required sentiment. Prin’s narrative is busier, full of expression and emotions. Initially, Prin appears self-centered because of the way he speaks about his goals and future, but as soon as he meets Lucci the change in him is apparent. He becomes less concerned with himself and recognizes this: Something is changing in me. The things that used to be vitally important have slid to the back of my mind, replaced with Lucci. In my opinion, the only downfall in this novel is the later chapters in which the pace of the story felt rushed, compared to earlier. There is no doubt that I wanted to see if Lucci and Prin were given their happily ever after, but on the other hand, I did not want to feel as though I was racing to get there. Overall, In a Gilded Cage is a touching romantic story which reminds the reader that sometimes love is the key to freedom. A definite recommendation from me!
Naughty Fairy Tales
Lucci Grimley is indeed alluring—crowned with a mane of long blond hair, and blessed with an enchanting musical talent that draws a brave rescuer to a high tower hidden in the forest.
However, this modern-day Rapunzel is a young man, sold as a child to the wealthy and childless Damien Gotham for the price of a fast car and a pile of cash. And Lucci’s heroic prince is William “Prin” Prinzing, a handsome college student and star soccer player, hired to care for the grounds of the lavish Tower Estate. Prin climbs an extension ladder rather than a long golden braid to gain access to Lucci’s second floor bedroom window, ultimately penetrating the secrecy surrounding the cloistered young man.
Friendship, and soon romance, blooms. The tower captive eagerly gives his loving innocence to his brave rescuer, which sends the strict and reclusive Gotham into a frenzy of jealous rage. With Prin, Lucci gets a taste of real life, and he wants more. Together, the young men must face Gotham’s ruthlessness and pay the price of liberating Lucci.
Be Warned: m/m sex
And suddenly I am held in the circle of Prin’s arms. “I love it when you laugh!” he says breathlessly, right before he leans forward and kisses my smiling lips.
I am stunned, as this is the first kiss I have ever received directly on my lips, but still I reach my arms around his neck, in the manner Father so appreciates. I do not do this merely to please him, though, as I do with Father. It is an act I commit without any thought at all.
“I kissed you…” he whispers, as if it is a secret of which I am unaware. “I can’t believe I just did that.” Prin’s cheeks burn red, and he appears somewhat distraught.
Nevertheless, I ask the question that has been weighing so heavily on my mind. “Is this the way of friendship, Prin?”
Prin takes me by the hand and leads me to the bench. He pushes gently on my shoulders, so I sit down beside him and he then takes both of my hands in his. I notice that his hands are trembling as Father’s often do when he gives in to his need to touch me, and I suspect that something is amiss. He looks into my eyes, but glances away quickly. “We’re friends,” he says in an anxious tone, “but, for me … for me, I think it’s also something more.”
My thoughts are drawn to the thick treasury of stories with gilded pages I keep on my bookshelf. Many of the stories within are about the love between princes and their princesses. The way Prin and I embraced and kissed so sweetly is reminiscent of these stories of love I have read and reread.
“Then this is love?” Prin seems to possess many answers, and so I ask.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know.”
Prin reaches for my shoulders and pulls me toward him. I do not resist, as I sometimes do when Father embraces me. In fact, I lean forward with eagerness, so that my face is closer to his. And this time when Prin kisses me, it is not short and breathless. This kiss is long-lasting and quite dramatic, like the ones I have seen in the romantic musicals to which Father occasionally takes me. I am shocked when Prin uses his tongue to part my lips, and then proceeds to taste every corner of the inside of my mouth. I do not remember this detail from the stories in my treasury, but I find it thrilling. It seems to define perfect intimacy far better than Father’s way.
When he pulls away, I say, “I think you do know that this is love,” because I do not think a person kisses his friend in such a manner. I tell Prin, “Now I will kiss you,” and, placing my hands along the short growth on the fine bones of his face, I take my turn at learning the contours of the inside of his mouth. First, I press my tongue on the small space between his two front teeth that I find so engaging, and once I have fully explored this, I move on to find his soft tongue. I tangle mine with his, and when I do, I become hard between my legs. I wish only to press my hips against him, as I am in need of relief.
“It is happening to me again, Prin.” I take his hand in mine and press it to the stiffness of my private part, and as soon as I do this, I find that Prin is the one kissing me again.
“Lucci … I feel the same way,” he confesses upon a heated breath, and our kissing suddenly seems quite mutual.
Fairy tale retellings usually add a twist into the story - sometimes major; sometimes minor - but Mia Kerick's approach is darker and more striking than usual as she takes the Rapunzel story and adds a notably tragic element which embraces everything from a child's sale (a strange kind of "win-win" situation which gives his needy parents both money and a better life for their son) to the evolution of a strange relationship that can only be changed by a handyman's intervention. The vision of Rapunzel as being a young man in need of rescue is indeed quite a different perspective, and as the story line evolves, readers will come to realize that a change in gender isn't the only difference between this Rapunzel and its classic predecessor. From insights on dysfunctional family relationships and the experience of being a victim in a gilded cage (which also holds its benefits) to the efforts of an outsider to change the destiny and entrapped position of the alluring, damaged Lucci Grimley, In a Gilded Cage requires of its readers a flexibility and liberal outlook. Those without such attributes who unsuspectingly pick up the novel might find its tenants challenging and possibly offensive; but Mia Kerick's intention isn't to shock or disgust; but to provide a powerful story that winds family relationships, interpersonal connections, and the concept of a gilded cage's allure and dangers into a compellingly different vision of the Rapunzel mythos. If you never leave your mansion-cave, what could you possibly need or desire outside of it? As an evolving friendship brings with it deeper questions, both characters move out of their self-imposed gilded cages and into uncharted territories. Readers who pick up In a Gilded Cage expecting another predictable retelling of a fairy tale will be amazed - and delighted - by how far this author stretches the original story line's concepts in a dark social and psychological challenge to the innocence of the original Rapunzel story of seduction and love.
This is an incredibly well-written dark fairytale type of story that is loosely based on Rapunzel, with hints of others, too. It starts with young Lucci being sold by his birth parents, the price being a better life for them and him becoming the adopted son of Damien Gotham, a man as mysterious as a character based in the fictional city of Gotham, with a rather twisted way of seeing things and doing things. Lucas, as he's been renamed, is a prisoner in a gilded cage, and merely exists, not lives. Will Prin comes into his life as a handyman type employed by Gotham and they become friends, though Lucas is ruled by the fear of discovery. The Rapunzel part of the tale literally exists, with Prin climbing into Lucas's tower room and with Prin longing to free him. It's romantic and sweet, and meshes strangely with real life, so I wasn't entirely sure if the tale was taking place in real life as we know it, or if in an alternate universe - in the end, it didn't matter, as it was done incredibly well and with sweetness, innocence, romance, danger and with love winning out. There are two examples of everything a parent shouldn't be in this, as well as an example of the best kind of parents that any kid should have, and I loved how accepting of Prin's love for Lucca his parents were. I don't think the author was specifically trying to get a message across here, but she created the best possible parents to come into Lucca's life, where I was sure they'd end up. The tale ends with the leads in a good place, and in my romantic head, they're at the start of their HEA. Normally, I'd like my leads in a cemented HEA, together with an epilogue in their lives, some time down the line, but here, it didn't feel appropriate to have one. I liked how the author ended them and let my imagination do the rest.