Rating: 4 stars
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Prince Merrick is next in line for the Evergreen crown and, as such, is expected to soon marry and begin producing heirs. Merrick knows he has no choice but to face his responsibility as the future monarch, but he also has no interest in women and wishes he could live true to his heart and find his happily ever after with a man. When the gorgeous Cassius is promoted to being Merrick’s valet, Merrick finds himself dreaming of what could be if not for his royal obligations.
After his father’s death, Cassius has been responsible for taking care of his family, and that means keeping his good job at the castle. Cassius finds himself drawn to Merrick, but he also knows there is no way for a future between a servant and the prince, and he doesn’t want to do anything to put his job and his family at risk.
As the men spend more time together and get to know one another, their attraction begins to grow into real affection. Each man begins to share more of himself and the two find that they have much in common, despite their different stations in life. As Merrick and Cassius fall in love, both wish there was a way that they could truly be together. But time is running out for them as demands for Merrick to marry become increasingly insistent. Cassius and Merrick have fallen in love and wish for a future together, but it doesn’t seem like there is any way for them to truly be together.
Ever After is a sweet, sexy, and romantic fairy tale about two star-crossed lovers from different stations in life. Merrick and Cassius are both really likable characters who start off not quite understanding one another, but soon come to realize just how alike they both are. These are two caring, sensitive guys who love their families, have a strong sense of duty, and an appreciation for the arts. The story mainly focuses on the men falling in love, but knowing that there can never be a future between them. The authors do a really nice job of showing the intensity of their feelings, both their romantic connection, as well as their pain knowing that Merrick must marry and their affair will have to come to an end. We can really feel how hard this situation is for both men, and the story has a lovely, sweepingly romantic feeling to it as the men are caught up in their feelings for one another. The plot is a little bit one track in that the whole story is really focused on the idea of these men in love but who can never have one another. But I think overall the story works quite well and I was caught up in their journey.
The main area where I struggled here is that the story is not quite fantasy and not quite contemporary. In fact, the authors note this in the blurb, saying that the story takes place “in a wintery make-believe setting that wouldn’t be considered contemporary but also isn’t based on any specific time period and doesn’t play by any traditional rules.” The book reads largely as a fantasy in just about every way. But at the same time, there are some contemporary elements thrown in, namely cars and trains. Yet the story isn’t really a contemporary either, as along with the strong fantasy feel, there are no other contemporary elements. For example, no one uses a phone, nor do they even seem to exist. And the story doesn’t seem to exist in any kind of larger contemporary world that we would recognize. This sort of hybrid world left me feeling somewhat disoriented as it isn’t quite one or the other. I am honestly not sure why the authors chose to even incorporate these few contemporary elements, as they don’t really add to the story and left me feeling very disconcerted about the time and place.
However, overall I did enjoy this story and these characters. If you are fan of fantasy or stories with a fairy tale feel, especially with some epic romance and light angst, Ever After is a good choice.
This does sound tempting. Thank you, Jay.
Hi Jay, thanks for this review. I frittered away a significant portion of today reading it! (Bad, bad Mommy) I would largely agree with your assessment, although the hybrid world you spoke of didn’t bother me much. I just took it as a fairy tale, with its requisite belief-defying elements, and went with that. The writing style was lovely and I enjoyed the characters. The only quibble I had was the winter ball scene, which didn’t quite meet my expectations. (SPOILER: I would have had Cassius accept the invitation to dance, spend some heart-felt yet anguished moments in the prince’s arms, and then wrench himself away, to the gasps of the crowd and the bewilderment of the musicians.) In some ways, Ever After reminded me of Lilah Pace’s duology – a story that is very much rooted in time and place and definitely *not* a fairy tale. James & Ben are real, dammit! I think I just love this trope.
So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your thoughts. And oh yes, I loved that duology so much!