One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.
For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after” has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love or the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery turn that grain of salt into a mountain, everything they hold dear comes under attack.
Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they’d buried long ago.
Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon’s Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss. Set in a fictional realm based on New York City, the books sprinkle fiction with elements of fantasy and encourage readers to rethink everything they know about happy endings.
At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.
The final chapter in the Amazon #1 bestselling Desperately Ever After series (women’s fiction fantasy, women’s fiction humor, and paranormal fantasy). Says New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich: “Laura Kenyon makes happily ever after desperately delicious!”
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Rapunzel rolled her head along the edge of her seat and stared out the window. The coarse fabric disagreed with her skin. The thick pleather piping jutted uncomfortably into her left eye. And there was a putrid stench of something—stale cheese mixed with antibacterial hand gel, perhaps—that made her want to stop breathing all together.
After languishing in the airport for hours, fielding delay after delay from the never-ending storms, Ethan and Rapunzel finally boarded Sandman Flight 425 a few minutes before midnight. At one point, roughly seven hours into their twenty-hour flight from hell, she actually wished Ruby was sitting beside her instead of Ethan. Magically impotent or not, the fairy’s perfume-soaked hair might have neutralized the air. That, and her boundless negativity seemed much more appealing at the moment than Ethan’s exhaustive efforts to pretend nothing was wrong.
But from where she sat, absolutely everything was wrong.
For starters, where were the bottomless champagne glasses? Where was the hot tub? Where was the aisle wide enough for all sorts of physical acrobatics—with some extra headroom for flinging clothes? Where was the smug millionaire with the capped teeth, private jet, and easy out clause?
“They must have given you kids seats by mistake,” she murmured, struggling to cross her legs without getting them stuck. “I’m going to have a permanent dent in my knee. There’s, like, two inches of space here.” Grunting, she finally grabbed one foot with both hands and shoved. It hit the tiny porthole window then finally dropped down, causing her elbow to lurch back and jab Ethan’s left bicep. “And that’s another thing. Do they think people’s arms are half an inch wide? This is negative elbowroom. This is inhumane.” She glanced at the microscopic vodka bottle shoved into the flimsy plastic cup on Ethan’s tray table, and let out one more grunt of disgust.
“They’re economy seats,” said her travel companion—as she’d specified for two flight attendants, the security official, and the guy who brewed her latte at the gate. “First Class only had one spot under such short notice, and I figured you’d be just as disappointed. No mile high hot tubs in my lifestyle, love. Wish I could say otherwise.”
“It’s fine.” She plucked a magazine out from the seatback pocket, flipped past forty uninteresting pages in one breath, and hurled it back. Then she focused on the tiny washed out media screen in front of her. On it, a swaying cartoon airplane was gobbling up yellow dashes that stretched more than ten thousand miles, over two oceans and an entire continent, to the giant island realm of Stularia. She’d never been there, but knew its size was deceiving. While Marestam could fit inside its water-locked borders almost a thousand times over, only a fraction of Stularia was actually inhabited. That left more than two million square miles of untouchable land, perfect for hiding a reclusive fairy with no need for societal convenience. No wonder Rapunzel could never find her.
“So what’s the plan?” she asked, not eager to converse with Ethan but even less eager to sit in uncomfortable silence. “Do you have an address or something? Should we bring a housewarming gift? Does she know we’re coming?”
“Funny,” he said, popping an almond into his mouth.
He gave her a sideways glance and held it as his back molars cracked down on the nut. “I don’t have an address. They didn’t have eye of newt in the gift shop. And judging by the fact that I can still see that scowl on your face, I’m guessing she doesn’t know we’re coming.”
“I’m not scowling,” Rapunzel said, catching an involuntarily glimpse of another passenger’s screen two rows down. A teenage girl with headphones was watching some trashy news program about the Wickenhams. It had probably been spliced together while Belle was bleeding out in the emergency room. The producers had probably hoped she’d die so they could up the ratings.
She chomped down on her cheeks but couldn’t take her eyes away as a bunch of headlines flooded the screen: Donner pleads not guilty to attempted murder, gets out on bail ... Belle to leave hospital Wednesday … Parliament questions future of the monarchies … Crackdowns on magic cause uproar … Kiarra Kane: The trial of the century’s wild card.
Rapunzel’s chest rose and fell so fast, she could feel her bra pulling away from her shirt.
“God, I hate the media,” she said. “I can’t believe I used to be part of that. They’re just a bunch of nosy, blood-thirsty bullies who slap up whatever headlines will start the most fires.”
“Then stop looking at it,” Ethan suggested, tilting forward to obscure her view. “They don’t even know what they’re talking about.” His eyebrows rose a little, then he leaned closer to her and whispered, “They’re just desperate to know what happened, and you already do. Don’t get caught up in all the packaging.”
“I know,” she whispered back, shaking her head at the glittery talking heads and their cattle audience. “And you’re right.” He tipped back in surprise, unblocking a photo montage of Belle dancing with Donner on her wedding day; Belle telling a Mirror reporter about her pregnancy and Donner’s affair; Belle and Rapunzel toasting to the Phoenix B&B at its grand opening; and Donner being hauled away in a police cruiser with the Phoenix in flames behind him. “But do they really have to do that?”
A few heads turned their way as Rapunzel’s voice jumped over the appropriate airline din. She slid quietly down into her seat. She hadn’t really expected to hop on a cross-world economy class airliner without being recognized at all, but she’d hoped to hold off until landing.
Sure enough, after this outburst, the woman sitting directly across from Ethan began rubbing the back of her neck in a poor attempt to disguise her staring right at them.
Buy the previous Books:
99-cent Kindle Countdown Sale on Desperately Ever After (Book One) from November 7-11.
Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!
Prize Pack 1
A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)
An assortment of treats for your next girls’ night in (sorry, rampion not included!)
A snazzy memory box to ship it all in 😉
Prize Pack 2 (Worldwide!)
This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella
To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!
Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g
About the Author:
LAURA KENYON is an award-winning journalist and the author of three novels, Desperately Ever After, Damsels in Distress, and Skipping Midnight. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications. The Boston College graduate does not live in a castle, but has been blessed with a heroic prince charming, two beautiful princesses, and a noble steed.
To learn more about Laura, visit her website at www.laurakenyon.com and sign up forexclusive updates. She also loves connecting with readers on her blog, Twitter, andFacebook. And for a peek at how she envisions Marestam, check out her Desperately Ever After board on Pinterest.