Review: Ensnared by Rita Stradling
Some stories are evergreen: the girl who encounters danger in the woods; the hungry children enticed by the aroma and taste of food where they least expect it; a girl who agrees to live with a beast to save her father from imprisonment.
The girl in the woods need not wear a red hood for us to recognise her. We hold our breath as the children succumb to the lure of sweets, even when they are not gingerbread shingles.
And we recognize the Beast even when he does not wear fur until midnight, and Beauty by her kind patience and willing self-sacrifice.
The clever recasting of this futuristic interation of Beauty, though, is where Ensnared shines. Lorccan Garbhan, the beast of this story, is all too human in his major foible; he cannot abide to be in the presence of a human. His billionaire-brilliant strategy is to commision a high-end AI-driven femmebot to help him reduce his social anxiety.
Rose steps in when her father, unable to deliver the commisioned artifact by the deadline, faces prison for fraud. And romance, or a suitable facsimile thereof, is totally to be expected.
That's if the other robots and AI devices involved don't rat out the human masquerading in their midst!