About Books #49: Happily Never After

Here’s a quick confession: there’s a lot of Disney-films I’ve never watched. And even if I watched them? I never really identified with Disney princesses the way so many girls my age seem to do. Well, you know… Apart from Belle. Her love of books is #goals. Sure, I loved the pretty dresses, but somehow the whole Disney-craze kind of passed me in that aspect. Now, when High School Musical came out? I was all over that. But that’s neither here nor there. The point I’m making: I’ve never been one too fond of the whole-fairytale thing, so the play on that classic ending in Happily Never After? That just had me all over it. And luckily – it delivered!

I was offered an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are strictly my own.

The story

Rory closed her eyes. Think with your head. Your heart can’t be trusted. Life is not a fairytale…

Rory doesn’t believe in love. She’s got far too many real problems to deal with.

She’s just bought a tumbledown house. Her mother is generally behaving like a wicked witch, insisting on calling her Aurora, and generally interfering in her (admittedly pitiful lack of) love life. And her 16-year-old daughter has finally grown out of Disney princesses and discovered dating…

But Rory’s adamant that she doesn’t need saving. In fact, the only thing she’s wishing on a star for is a bit of practical help. However, when she meets a builder whose name is John Prince and who seems to be in the habit of rescuing her (right down to finding her lost shoe one evening) she might have to face a truth as uncomfortable as hobbling home barefoot – that maybe there’s something enchanted in the air.

Her mother, daughter and friends are convinced her prince has come, but Rory just wishes everyone could let it go. Especially when she hears a story that makes her question whether he is really the hero everyone thinks he is…

The opinion

There is something to be said for a novel which basically just features women being pretty darn amazing in all ways. Considering Rory is 100% pro “women can do anything”, that’s exactly what this novel turned out to be. From Rory herself, who wants to redo an entire (mess of a-) house, to her daughter, whom she named after a suffragette, to her friends, who keep daring to put themselves out there, to her mother, who is just amazing … The fact that these women can accept they don’t necessarily “understand” each other’s logic, but are still willing to support each other anyways? Loved that 🙂

As per the usual, I would have liked to have known more about some of these characters. John Prince and his mother? Their life basically sounds like it could be a Hallmark Movie. The same can actually be said for Charlie, one of Rory’s students, and his mother. And then there’s Belle, Rory’s daughter, who could have done with some more screen time. But again: that’s just me – I often need to know more about the characters.

The one place where more information might have been nice, was the ending. The author did an excellent job of shining a light on different characters and their story. Those last couple of pages, though, seemed kind of rushed. There’s a conflict that’s been building since approximately the second chapter of the book. And I can’t really tell you anything about it, because it gives too much away about too many characters. But basically: there’s this conflict that’s had such an excellent slow build up. And then, somehow, in a matter of 2 pages, it gets resolved completely. And as a quick bonus, the romantic side of the story? Takes about half a page to get its climax (no pun intended).

I honestly just kept checking whether maybe I’d skipped a page, or there was an epilogue I hadn’t seen. It’s a bit of a petty, really, because – again – the build up of that conflict? Especially those last couple of pages before its resolution? They had me “on the edge of my seat”, “scared to read” kind of looking forward to seeing whether I was right in guessing who this one person was…

(Btw: yes, I know, this kind of vagueness is annoying. But, honestly? That one plot line is amazing and I would kind of recommend you read the book based on just that one thing. So naturally I don’t want to spoil it!)

The rating: 3.5/5

All in all, I really enjoyed Happily Never After. The narration and the character development were executed really well. The attention to detail, the amount of “screen time” for some of the secondary characters gave the story the kind of extra schwung that authors often leave out in exchange for “let’s have all the attention on this one couple”. Would I have liked to see the last couple of pages about doubled in length? Absolutely. Did that, all in all, lessen my appreciation for this book? Absolutely not! (Goodreads)

-Saar