Fairytales were my first favorite childhood genre, and in my later years, I haven’t strayed too far from them. The list continues to grow of fairytale mash-ups, retellings, dark, and inspired versions. A few missed the mark, but most get it right. Once Upon a Princess Duet nails it!
In Heart of Stone, we have Leesa, princess leader of a kingdom in ruins. Those who killed her family and destroyed the land are gone too. Leesa ekes out a living for her grandmother and the people of her village the best way she can.
This leads Leesa to search for treasures at Silver Palace, also in ruins and once home to her betrothed who never returned from the war.
Leesa is caught by Willem, the gargoyle, self-proclaimed guardian of the castle ruins. He makes Leesa an offer—stay in the castle for three weeks and he will give her all she needs to care for her village.
This grownup version of Beauty & the Beast doesn’t deliver a wide-eyed, naïve ingenue and a loathsome beast, but a thirty-year-old woman who’s left her days of royalty and privilege behind and a snarky, supernatural creature who may or may not be just a bit pervy. *HA! *
The bargain is not an easy one even as a guarded trust grows between the mismatched couple.
Trouble arrives in the forms of Lester and Sir Kyle, who’s determined to take the castle’s hidden riches… and Leesa as his wife.
With problems temporarily abated, Willem releases Leesa from their agreement, insisting she leaves before the nefarious Kyle returns with backup. Leesa is reluctant to leave—she has come to care for the gargoyle—and wants to fulfill her part of the agreement… and perhaps even help free Willem from the enchantment which binds him to the castle.
Trouble returns, and it is chaotic. Leesa’s resolve weakens as she believes she’s lost someone else important to her. It builds to an excellent ending, which for me, could have gone on and on.
While she only appears in a few pages near story’s end, Polly, a no-nonsense barmaid from town, leaps to the top of my favorite characters list. Polly wasn’t up for any foolishness and did not suffer fools lightly.
In Beauty and the Faun, Kayla and her mother are taken in by her uncle after Kayla’s father dies.
Although they are equals, Kayla and Julia, her mother, are treated as servants…like Cinderella. The good-natured women don’t mind… much, as they both miss their life living in the woods with Christopher, Kayla’s late father.
When Julia fell in love with Christopher, a woodsman, her family didn’t consider him good enough for Julia and she had to choose—her wealthy family and easy life or poverty with Christopher. Of course, Julia chose love with no regrets. But illness took Christopher all too soon.
Now Kayla learns Sir Frederick, her uncle, and a habitual gambler is ready to marry her off to help settle his gambling debts.
The plan is to marry Kayla off to the son of a king. Usually a coveted betrothal, King Reynard has been unable to find a bride for his son because Reynard is a wolf-shapeshifter and his son… changes into things. The young prince is also said to be wild and disappears for weeks at a time.
Despite Kayla and Julia’s objections, the wedding plans proceed, so Kayla decides to solve her own problem.
Striking a deal with fellow servant, Jackon, Kayla plans to go into the village and find a job so she can take care of her mother and be away from Frederick’s control. Jackon tricks Kayla and leads her into an attempted kidnapping. Kayla escapes and eventually ends up with Del, a woodland faun.
Loved the twists and turns of this quick read which included a wedding ball, a fairy godmother and… pomegranate.
Leesa and Kayla are two great characters—women just trying to figure it all out. They’re not sitting around waiting to be rescued, but Prince Charming does arrive… in his own way! You’ll enjoy rooting for their happily-ever-afters.
I highly recommend these two engaging fairytale sendups. But, don’t buy them for your twelve-year-old. Yes, there’s sex, (but it’s not over-the-top). We grow up, why can’t our fairytales?
Title: Once Upon A Princess Duet
Author: Deborah A. Bailey
Genre: Paranormal Romance
The Once Upon A Princess Duet
In these two sexy paranormal romance “fairy tales,” two princesses find that love with a shifter hero is not without complications – but there is always a happily-ever-after. Includes two complete short novellas.
“Heart of Stone”
In the ruins of a country destroyed by a curse. Princess Leesa goes looking for a way to help her people. Desperate to find an item of value to trade for supplies, she trespasses into an abandoned palace.
There, she finds more than she bargained for when she encounters a lonely Gargoyle who offers to provide her with everything she needs, for a price.
If she’s willing to pay it, she may find the love she’s been looking for. Or she may lose it, forever.
“Beauty & the Faun”
Kayla, a poor young woman runs away when her rich uncle and aunt arrange her marriage to a shifter prince from another land. Her uncle needs gold to settle his debts and the king is offering a great reward if he can obtain a willing bride for his son.
But Kayla’s plans to hide in the Great Forest hit a snag when two mischievous fauns find her and deliver her to a very sexy faun shifter who is ready to teach Kayla a thing or two about life and love.