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