A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is a sweet fairy tale so well done that I was left feeling warm and fuzzy and somewhat in love with the characters in the same way I did when I was a child and first heard the story of Sleeping Beauty and her prince.  The authors created a timeless world in which a man loving a man was not unheard of but was considered unacceptable.  But it was not punishable by death, and by the end of the story, readers could hold out hope that in this particular magical kingdom same sex love might become so much the norm that it wouldn’t even be remarked upon.  If Prince Merrick gets his wish, that may well happen. 

Merrick is under a lot of pressure from his family to choose a bride so that he can ensure the future of the kingdom.  The only one who seems to support him in his hesitation to choose just anyone without being in love with them is his sister.  In fact, throughout the story, she’s his champion, even arranging for several intriguing plot points that throw him in the path of his one true love. 

Cassius is a simple man, devoted to his family and excited by the prospect of being chosen as valet to Prince Merrick.  Promoted through the ranks rather quickly, he doesn’t have a lot of friends and he’s never told his family of his preference for men.  When he gets to know the real Prince Merrick, he discovers a young man who truly cares about others and who has an artist’s soul.  Merrick enjoys the little things in life and appreciates the beauty of nature more than the beauty of his family’s pompous surroundings.  He’s like no other and certainly not like Cas had imagined the future king would be.

Merrick and Cas fall in love over the course of weeks together.  It’s all the little everyday things Merrick does for Cas—like taking him riding, or encouraging him in his story and poetry writing, and eventually making a stop to meet Cas’s family.  Merrick loves Cas’s beautiful nature and the heart of a poet.  He admires his humility and, of course, the two eventually become romantically involved, though they know their days together are numbered.  Cas has already made up his mind that he’ll leave Merrick’s service once the prince chooses a bride at the Winter Solstice Ball. 

The fairy tale plot thickens as the prince sees his love from across the room.   But as should happen in any good fairy tale, his love runs, leaving both heartbroken.  Of course, the authors wouldn’t leave us there and we do eventually get a happily ever after, but it’s the sweetness of reading their adventure that makes this story most memorable.  And make no mistake—there’s no major drama or heartache in this one.  It’s purely sweet—as in a magical fairy tale. 

Kudos to both authors for bringing us this story and, on a personal note, for giving me one more memorable fairy tale to add to my favorites list.  I highly recommend this to those who want to simply go away to a sweet place, daydream to their heart’s content, and end the day on a happy note.    

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Cover art is a caricature depiction of Prince Merrick offering his hand to Cassius at the Winter Solstice Ball.  The outfits exactly match the descriptions in the book. It’s colorful, sweet, and exactly right for this story. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Detail:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 262 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by Christina Lee and Riley Hart
Original TitleEver After
ASINB07B413R98
Edition LanguageEnglish

Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee Release Day Blitz (excerpt)

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 Ever After RDB Banner

EVER AFTER

A GAY FAIRYTALE

RILEY HART & CHRISTINA LEE  

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 02.28.18

Ever After Cover 

 

COVER DESIGN: JAY AHEER/ Simply Defined Art

 

Blurb:

As next in line for the Evergreen crown, Prince Merrick Davendall’s future involves ruling, marriage, and producing an heir of his own. But he’s long been tormented by desires that are far from princely. Especially when the beautiful Cassius is promoted to be his new valet, and Merrick is struck by a longing like never before—a longing to know him far beyond royal and servant.

After his father’s passing, Cassius Havendale’s sole duty is to provide for his family. A promotion to serve a pampered prince is something he endures only for their sake. Surely Prince Merrick has no understanding of true suffering of the common people, nor could he possibly understand what it’s like to desperately desire something he cannot have.

Except the prince is not at all what Cassius imagined. Kind, humorous, and caring to those in need, he also shares Cassius’ affinity for the arts. In fact, Merrick understands his deepest vulnerabilities in a most remarkable way.

As their affection deepens, the underlying tension between them becomes unbearable and they’re unable to ignore it any longer. But when the queen prepares a lavish ball with all the eligible ladies in the land in attendance, Merrick must fulfill his obligations to his country, and Cassius has the needs of his family to consider. They’ve long known their stolen moments would have to come to an end, but are they ready to give up one another and the idea of a happily-ever-after?

  

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2EesPFd

 

EVERAFTERteaser3

Gay Couple Love Home Concept

 

 EXCERPT

“Now you are all set,” Cassius remarked, slipping the national Evergreen sash over Merrick’s neck and adjusting it over his shoulder.

Merrick was entertaining the Duke of Cairn this morning for brunch. The king would be joining them this afternoon for ice fishing on the property. Apparently, the royal family of Cairn were avid fishermen, and when the king mentioned it a few weeks back on his visit, Merrick’s father told them about Evergreen’s abundance of freshwater trout. Merrick did not exactly enjoy the sport, but Cairn was Evergreen’s closest ally, and it was important to entertain them properly while they discussed pressing matters, including Merrick’s royal visit to their lovely countryside in the coming months.

“At breakfast I overheard the cooks going on about how handsome the duke is,” Cassius mentioned casually as he smoothed down Merrick’s coat and then picked at some lint on the lapel.

The change in topic threw Merrick, and when he did not respond, Cassius glanced up curiously at him. Merrick smirked as he wrapped his hands around Cassius’s waist and pulled him closer. “You are jealous.”

“Of course not!” he declared as his neck turned beet red. “I was only relaying the gossip in the castle.”

“Hmmm, that’s very peculiar since you’ve never seemed to be affected by gossip before,” Merrick remarked, backing him against the wardrobe, the innocent look in Cassius’s eyes completely charming.

“What are you doing?” Cassius asked, his gaze flashing toward the closed chamber door.

“I don’t give a flying fig whether the duke is handsome or not. I have never paid him any mind.” Merrick kissed his cheek. “What I do know is that a stunning man is standing before me, driving me completely mad. And I long to take his prick into my mouth.”

Cassius gasped and swayed toward him. Merrick wondered if Cassius felt just as feverish after spending such a sweet and intense moment in the woods the other day. He only dreamed to know more of him before it was too late.

“It is all I thought about last evening after you left me in the parlor room with the conservation committee,” Merrick added with a groan as he gripped the waistband of Cassius’s trousers. “I want you in my bed every night. In my arms. But I know it is an empty wish.”

“We…shouldn’t,” Cassius replied in a gruff voice even as he sank against Merrick, his prick already hard as the steel jousting stick on display in the Great Hall. “You make it quite difficult to properly concentrate on my duties.”

Merrick drew back immediately, searching Cassius’s eyes. “I am sorry. I do not want you to feel any sort of regret.”

“Never.” Cassius grasped Merrick’s hand and placed it against the bulge beneath his zipper. “But now I shall go around all day with the front of my pants uncomfortably tight while you socialize with the handsome duke.”

Merrick hissed and then promptly dropped to his knees before the valet.

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Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.

She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.

Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.

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Once upon a time, I lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. I spent my days shopping for photo shoots, getting into cabs, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at my favorite hangouts.

Now I live in the Midwest with my husband and son—my two favorite guys. I’ve been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn’t until I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that I realized I could turn the fairytales inside my head into the reality of writing fiction.

I write Adult, New Adult, and M/M Contemporary Romance. I’m addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. I believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

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