“...a sophisticated and fantastical twist to the beloved Cinderella fairy tale.” — A. G. Howard, author of the Splintered Series
When Eleanor Brice loses a glass slipper, she unexpectedly gains a royal fiancé and a way out of her abusive stepmother’s house. Unfortunately, eight years of mistreatment, isolation, and clandestine book learning hardly prepared Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According to Eleanor’s eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike tendency to voice her opinion. To make matters worse, Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree.
Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation, Eleanor realizes she loves her husband’s best friend, the intellectual, surprisingly sensitive former soldier, Dorian Finley. As Gregory’s mercurial nature comes to light, Eleanor wrestles with her feelings for Dorian, flounders in her new role, and makes powerful enemies—foes who use Eleanor as a scapegoat in a magical plot to unseat the royal family.
Eleanor Brice is a princess. She lives in an enchanted castle. She even has her own unicorn. But she’s lived through childhood trauma, she has insecurities and anxieties, and she makes dreadful relationship choices. In short, she’s a real woman in a fairy tale world, and this is her happily-ever-after.
Alexander's alluring debut and series launch reimagines Cinderella's happily ever after as a tense, unhappy marriage while laying plenty of ground for installments to come. At the Second Sunday ball, Eleanor Brice attracts the attention of Prince Gregory Desmarais, much to the annoyance of her conniving, abusive stepmother, Imogene. Here ends the fairy tale readers will recognize, as opinionated Eleanor struggles to fit in at the palace during her whirlwind wedding preparations with help from her gossipy parrot Chou Chou and her handmaidens. Her marriage grows more complicated than her engagement as Gregory's temper flares and Eleanor learns he frequents brothels. Eleanor navigates politics including a push to strip her beloved healing witches of their access to education and her stepmother's ongoing schemes while dealing with her husband's inconsistent moods. Through it all, she relies on Gregory's best friend, soldier Dorian Finley, for support. Alexander writes sensitively about reality falling short of dreams while leaving open enough questions regarding Imogene's machinations and Dorian and Eleanor's mutual attraction to propel a sequel. Alexander does a solid job of taking a fairy tale and remixing it with feminist themes and dark edges. (Self-published)