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The Original Happily Ever Afters

Over the past several weeks, I've found myself reading a lot of books that take their inspiration from folk and fairy tales. This isn't unusual — I've long been attracted to this sort of story — but, what is unusual, at least for me, is how many of them have been traditional historical romance novels. I've always snapped up fairy tale-inspired young adult novels (like Cinder by Marissa Meyer) and literary fiction (The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey) and especially fantasy (almost anything by Robin McKinley), but, although I have occasionally come across a romance novel built on the foundations of a classic fairy tale, it seems to have either become more common for these books to be published, or I'm just finding more of them recently.

I think the realization of how many fairy tale-inspired romance novels I was reading first hit me this past week when I was reading Nicole Jordan's Princess Charming. The story is only very, very loosely inspired by the Cinderella story, but it reminded me that Kieran Kramer's most recent Impossible Bachelors novel, If You Give a Girl a Viscount was also a Cinderella story. So was Eloisa James's A Kiss at Midnight. And Ms. James's When Beauty Tamed the Beast was obviously inspired by Beauty and the Beast. And I realized that, not only were there a lot of fairy tale romances floating around out there, but most of the ones I had read took their inspiration from only two stories: Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. So, I started digging through the attic of my brain in search of stories inspired by different tales, and came up with very little.

Both Eloisa James (The Duke is Mine) and Victoria Alexander (The Princess and the Pea) have used, well, the Princess and the Pea. I don't recall that either book had a literal pea or a ginormous stack of mattresses, but both had potential brides being tested to ensure that they were worthy of the "prince."

And, then, well, that was kind of it. True, all of Elizabeth Hoyt's novels use fairy tales as framing devices, but those are original tales (and they're quite good and they need to be collected into their own book, but I digress), so don't really count. Where are the romance novels inspired by Rapunzel or Red Riding Hood or Snow White? I understand the abundance of Cinderella and Beauty tales, as they contain some of the core tropes of the romance genre, but, as much as I love fairy tales, I'm getting a bit bored with those two. I know there have to be novels based on other tales; I just haven't found them yet. I can't wait until I do. Fairy tales were, after all, the original Happily Ever Afters.

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Billie Bloebaum is a bona fide romance reader and would be reading romance novels even if she weren't reviewing them. She is also a new convert to eBooks, thanks to the writers of the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, who kindly loaned her a Sony Reader. However, since Billie has a deep and abiding love for the traditional book, she attempts to review books that are available in both formats.

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3 Responses to "The Original Happily Ever Afters"

    Erin C. April 7th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    The pattern with Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast shows up all over YA too. Like Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and then of course the multitude of Beauty and the Beast stories. What I think is great about the Cinder series is that she's also going to use Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White!

    E.L. Sarnoff April 17th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Dear Billie~ After reading your entry both here and on SBTS by way of SurLaLune, I was wondering if you would like to read and review my upcoming self-pubbed novel: DEWITHCHED: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen. Targeted to women 18+, the premise is: What if the Evil Queen from Snow White was sent to rehab for her addiction to evil and a second chance at a happily ever after life? As my heroine goes on her journey of discovery and recovery, she discovers the meaning of true beauty and unravels the SW story as we know it. It will be available as Kindle ebook in June and shortly afterward as a paperback. I look forward to hearing back from you. Sincerely~ els

    BillieB April 17th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Erin: IIRC, one of the sequels to 'Cinder' is to be called 'Cress', which would make it a Rapunzel story. The others are 'Scarlet' (Red Riding Hood) and 'Winter' (Snow White). I was super-excited that there was the possibility of a Rapunzel tale, so I hope I'm not wrong!

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