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?
***PLEASE NOTE: EVER AFTER is a romantic fairy tale—minus the magic—that features one compassionate prince, one brooding valet, and plenty of angsty forbidden love. It's loosely based on a certain treasured fairy tale 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.
This tale of two lovers in a time when same sex attraction, especially in society circles, was frowned upon definitely had its share of extremely touching moments.
The scene with the orphans and the snowball fight.
The scenes in Merrick's secret clearing in the forest, where Cas finally began to let the prince in.
The scenes where Princess Marjorie truly had her beloved brother's best interests and happiness at heart.
Visiting Cassius' family.
The night they shared at the inn.
There was a lot of internal monologuing as to their plight, due to not only their mutual attractions toward men, but also in regards to the differences in their social statuses. How can a prince and his valet truly find their Happily Ever After?
As a result, the story felt a bit unnecessarily long to me, covering a lot of the same concerns over and over again, which left me feeling a bit bored and wishing that "something" would happen. Sooner rather than eventually.
Yes, I got that the pining and longing was a large part of all Cinderella-esque stories, but that didn't alleviate those moments of monotony for me. Maybe I'm just not really a fairytale kinda guy.
I did truly love the ending sections, from their night of being stranded at the inn and forward. That was when "things" actually started happening, some good and some that were heartbreaking, with the pacing finally being stepped up to what I usually prefer.
So while several parts of the story had me fully engaged and feeling *all* the feels, other parts felt more protracted, leaving this one with a solid 3.75 star rating when all was said and done.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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