And They Lived Happily Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales Boxed Set by Maddie James, Janet Eaves, Cat Shaffer, Arlene Hittle, Jennifer Anderson, May Williams
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (628 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet, Sensual, and Spicy (depending on the story)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
…and they lived happily ever after. A modern fairy tales boxed set.
This boxed set includes six modern fairy tales by popular and bestselling romance authors. In this set you will find:
Red: A Seduction Tale by Maddie James (Little Red Riding Hood)
Sins of the Father by Janet Eaves (Sleeping Beauty)
Dixie White and the Seven Dates by Cat Shaffer (Snow White)
Just Right by Arlene Hittle (The Three Bears)
Death Sat Beside Her by Jennifer Anderson (Little Miss Muffet)
Playing the Piper by May Williams (The Pied Piper)
And They Lived Happily Ever After has a little bit of everything!
”Playing the Piper” by May Williams (Contemporary-sensual)
Penny is a very entertaining heroine. Her inner thoughts and the things she writes in her diary never failed to bring a smile to my face. I love how good she is with her students. However, Penny is very insecure. She frequently jumps to conclusions about James and his motivations concerning her and the park she loves. I could understand her misgivings the first time around, but they seemed to straighten things out fairly quickly. Unfortunately at the very next sign of trouble, Penny is ready to believe the worst again. The situation Penny and James find themselves in is very difficult, but without trust they aren’t going to make it very far. Will Penny finally give James a chance or will she let her insecurities cloud her judgment?
Some of the secondary characters in this short story are very nasty at the beginning but undergo some dramatic changes by the end. I understood the reason for one character’s change, but some of the others changed very quickly and without much explanation. Consequently, I found those parts unrealistic.
I also think that Penny and James’ relationship progresses too quickly, especially given Penny’s inability to trust James. However, the ending was still sweet and the situation with the park is solved in an interesting and fun way.
“Just Right” by Arlene Hittle (Contemporary-sensual)
I truly felt sorry for Callie. She has fame, good looks, and money. From the outside, her life might look perfect. However, I don’t envy the price Callie has paid for fame. As I watched Callie struggle to manage her public persona versus her personal life, it was easy to see why she needed a vacation out of the spotlight.
Ty and his brothers are certainly an interesting group. They teased each other unmercifully, but they also cared for and looked out for each other. Callie was nothing like Ty expected her to be, and their first encounter with each other was anything but smooth. I could certainly sense some underlying chemistry. However, I found it very hard to get a sense of what kind of couple Callie and Ty will be. He is very jealous and possessive right from the start even though they don’t know each other very well. Most of their encounters are antagonistic despite their physical attraction. In spite of these issues, Ty is a good man who just wants to protect the woman he loves from the ugly side of the media.
I must say that I found the “happy for now” ending to be very realistic and a good solution for Callie and Ty. Callie’s schedule is very demanding and while being famous has definite drawbacks, she isn’t ready to leave the spotlight just yet. I’m not sure what the future will hold for this new couple, but I think they are on the right track.
“Red” by Maddie James (Paranormal-spicy)
“Red” was by far the most unusual story in this collection. There is a lot about Garnet’s world that I don’t understand. Even Garnet doesn’t seem to know much about it. I definitely think the magic and the history of Garnet’s family needed to be expanded in greater detail. While a bit of mystery is intriguing, Garnet was put in a position of making major, life changing decisions mere moments after learning that her family is much more than it seems. I understand that her family thought they were protecting Garnet by allowing her some time to live a normal life, but I think it is unfair to spring everything on her right before she’s called to make a monumental decision.
Garnet’s relationship with Max ignites from the moment they meet and the chemistry between them burns brighter with each turn of the page. Sex between them is nothing short of scorching. However, I do wish they had had more time to get to know each other. Unfortunately time is something neither of them seem to have. Does Garnet make the right choice, or will the night end in disappointment?
“Death Sat Beside Her” by Jennifer Anderson (Suspense-sensual)
Elysse is a sweet girl, but she is stuck conforming to her mother’s idea of what a young lady should be. Her mom strikes me as very old fashioned and controlling. I know that her mother loves her, but it was clear to me that Elysse was struggling to gain her mother’s approval and was losing her individuality in the process.
Everything changes when Liam walks into her life. The attraction between them is clear from the start. Unfortunately, Elysse has a boyfriend. As I read, I wasn’t sure how the love triangle was going to play out. I can’t give any details without ruining the story, but I will say that I found it very easy to cheer for Liam.
I enjoyed watching Elysse begin to distance herself from the carefully crafted image she’s maintained for so long. Elysse says she’s making the changes because she wants too, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Elysse was simply trying to remake herself into the kind of girl she thought Liam would like.
It was very easy for me to figure out who the murderer was. The suspense of this story came from not knowing who the next victim would be and wondering when Liam and Elysse would put all the pieces of the puzzle together. The conclusion is very satisfying, and I have no doubt that Liam and Elysse are well on their way to a happy ending.
“Sins of the Father” by Janet Eaves (Contemporary-spicy)
Aurora has led a very sheltered life thanks to her overprotective aunts. I must admit that I’m not entirely sure why Aurora’s family went to such great lengths to insulate her from the world. There is some violence in Aurora’s past, but she was too young at the time to remember anything and drastic steps were taken to conceal Aurora’s identity. Aurora certainly needed some degree of protection, but the situation with the aunts just didn’t sit right with me.
Consequently, it is very easy to understand Aurora’s powerful urge to break away. I do think she made some very poor decisions in the process. She is very trusting of Philip, a man she knows nothing about, and she puts herself in an extremely vulnerable position. Fortunately, Philip is a very nice guy, and I enjoyed watching Aurora and Philip relax in each other’s company.
As the story progressed, and the truth of Aurora’s past is revealed, Ms. Eaves did a good job of building the suspense. When Aurora finally learns about her parents and who Philip is, I couldn’t wait to find out what their next step would be. Unfortunately, the story ended at this point. I must admit to being disappointed as I had hoped for a more satisfying conclusion.
“Dixie White and the Seven Dates” by Cat Shaffer (Contemporary-Sweet)
Dorothea’s story is easily my favorite from this anthology. She had my sympathy from page one when she learns some ugly things about her boyfriend. Rather than wallow in self pity, Dorothea decides to take control of her life for the first time. As I read, I had the pleasure of watching Dorothea blossom into a vibrant, caring young woman I’d be proud to call a friend. It took courage for Dorothea to walk away from everything she’s ever known. Fortunately, Dorothea discovers a wonderful small town in Kentucky that nurtures her new found desire to grown and change.
Ms. Shaffer did an excellent job creating the charming small town of Cardington, Kentucky, and most of the people who lived there were just as lovely, especially Lou and Len. Without their support and encouragement, Dorothea’s quest for independence would have been much more difficult.
The blind dates Dorothea goes on are entertaining. However, the men she met seemed more like caricatures rather than real people. Some of the dates were better than others, but I wasn’t surprised that Dorothea didn’t really click with any of them.
Rick is definitely a great guy. He and Dorothea are very comfortable around each other, and they have the beginnings of great chemistry. Their slow dance is particularly memorable. I have no doubt that they will grow into a wonderful couple.
I enjoyed reading And They Lived Happily Ever After. Each story is different with a unique take on various classic fairy tales. I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance.