Your audiobook is waiting…

Ever After

A Gay Fairy Tale
Narrated by: Joel Leslie
Series: Forbidden Love, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs
Categories: Romance, LGBT
4.5 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart
This Story Is Sexy

Publisher's Summary

As next in line for the Evergreen crown, Prince Merrick Davendall’s future involves ruling, marriage, and producing an heir of his own. But he’s long been tormented by desires that are far from princely. Especially when the beautiful Cassius is promoted to be his new valet, and Merrick is struck by a longing like never before - a longing to know him far beyond royal and servant. 

After his father’s passing, Cassius Havendale’s sole duty is to provide for his family. A promotion to serve a pampered prince is something he endures only for their sake. Surely Prince Merrick has no understanding of the true suffering of the common people, nor could he possibly understand what it’s like to desperately desire something he cannot have. 

Except the prince is not at all what Cassius imagined. Kind, humorous, and caring to those in need, he also shares Cassius’s affinity for the arts. In fact, Merrick understands his deepest vulnerabilities in a most remarkable way. 

As their affection deepens, the underlying tension between them becomes unbearable and they’re unable to ignore it any longer. But when the queen prepares a lavish ball with all the eligible ladies in the land in attendance, Merrick must fulfill his obligations to his country, and Cassius has the needs of his family to consider. They’ve long known their stolen moments would have to come to an end, but are they ready to give up one another and the idea of a happily-ever-after? 

Please note: Ever After is a romantic fairy tale - minus the magic - that features one compassionate prince, one brooding valet, and plenty of angsty, forbidden love. It’s loosely based on a certain treasured fairy tale in a wintery make-believe setting that wouldn’t be considered contemporary but also isn’t based on any specific time period and doesn’t play by any traditional rules. 

©2018 Christina Lee and RIley Hart (P)2018 Christina Lee and Riley Hart

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    73
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    86
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    71
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Ever After: Adorable and Infuriating

EVER AFTER is a story about a prince and heir to a throne who falls in love with a commoner. That's a story that's been told in fiction and in real life many a time. The added difficulty here, of course, is that the commoner is a man, which makes the romance doubly potentially treacherous for both characters.
Cassius, the commoner, and Merrick, the prince, are lovely, kind, good-hearted guys; there's no doubt you'll love them and root for their happiness, and, as performed by the ever-fabulous Joel Leslie, the story is almost an unmitigated delight.
The infuriation came for me about 1/3 into the tale, after the two become romantically involved, and... then there was one chapter after another of torturous angst, thwarted longing, and fatalistic sighs of "this could never be" and "they would have to content themselves with this one perfect night" and "only memories they would cherish forever", for the prince must do his duty and marry someone who can produce an heir. Meanwhile, I'm over here shouting, "Dude! Have you never heard of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson? Just abdicate already!"
If this story had been pared down to a shorter novel, or even a novella, lost several unnecessary secondary characters, and streamlined the plot, it would have been magical and perfect. As it is, it's mostly lovely, with some real tedium in the middle.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

So I started out a bit confused because the blurb on Audible clearly states: Please be sure to listen to the Dear Reader letter at the beginning of the book before you begin. The problem is there’s no “Dear Reader” letter at the beginning of the audio. So…was it important? Was it something I really needed to know? I don’t know!

Anyway, Ever After is a fantasy without the magic, a sweet fairytale, slow burn romance about the forbidden love between a prince and his valet that takes place in an interesting amalgam of traditional and modern (with formal language and some modern conveniences like cars).

Joel Leslie uses his best accents to bring the characters and the world to life. His pacing is good, his character voices distinct, and he provides emotional context to Merrick and Cassius’s plight.

I enjoyed the narration, but found myself frustrated with the story’s pace at times. Though, the last couple of hours really grabbed my attention and kept me riveted.

Recommended for those looking for an escape with great character and relationship development, a slow burn, and a very happy ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!!!

It is a great love story. It made me cry, laugh, and it was amazing

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So lovely and sweet!!!

I thought I was too old for fairy tales. I'm so glad to discover I'm not. This was such a lovely story! Rediscover the magic of fairy tales just as I did. You owe it to your heart to read this audiobook. To Riley Hart and Christina Lee, thanks so very much for this wonderful listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect!!!!

Delicious food for the romantic in even the most broken of hearted. Joel Leslie is the best narrator ever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story with only a few hang ups

I want to start off by saying that I loved this story. I loved merrick and Cassius and the tension was very good. My only point of contention was the world building. Now it does say in the beginning that this is a world of the authors own creation and I respect that. But it was rather jarring to have some modern things but then some older things that seemed to clash with one another. But over all I loved this book!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So much longing!

Next time someone asks why I enjoy reading gay romance, I'm just going to refer them to this book. Actually the audio version. Oh the longing and heartache! The hopelessness of not being able to share who you love with the world. This book brings to light everything I love about this genre.
I first read Ever After in March of 2018 and I really enjoyed it. But listening to the audio really took it up a notch, or 10. Joel Leslie is king when it comes to portraying vulnerable characters. I could just feel the despair of Merrick and Cassius and my heart broke for them, knowing they couldn't be together with the way things stood. I know I teared up when I read this story, but I found myself sobbing at points while listening. I'm not sure there could have been a better choice than Mr. Leslie, to give voice to these two men.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An inclusive fairy tale

I grew up with Disney Princesses.  Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty were all movies and stories I enjoyed as a young girl.  The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin came out as I moved into adulthood and I continued to enjoy the movies as they have come out.  I still haven’t seen Frozen (gasp), but I will eventually.

All that being said, I never dreamed of being a princess.  I never saw myself living in a castle.  I never dreamed a man would come and sweep me off my feet.  Good thing, too, because I’ve only ever met frogs in my adult life. 

But I digress.

I recently read another royalty book with two men and I adored it.  It was very contemporary, though, and therefore quite realistic.  Like it could actually happen.  ‘Ever After’ isn’t grounded in the same reality because it is a fairy tale.  There are sports cars but apparently no cell phones.  There is media, but gossip is spread by word of mouth, not the Internet.  There was something charmingly quaint about that. The focus of the story was the two men and how they were going to negotiate their way through their relationship.

Prince Merrick is the firstborn and is expected to ascend to the throne upon the death of his father.  He has been raised in luxury but also taught the importance of service. He participates in events for charity and them partakes in diplomatic engagements.  He does his duty but sneaks out to bath houses when he needs relief.  And with a mother hell-bent on marrying him off to an eligible member of royalty or, in desperation, any lady of good repute, relief is needed.  There is no one, to his knowledge, who knows his secret.  Well, his sister Marjorie does, but they never speak of it.

Cassius is a servant who has worked his way up to footman, but a crisis in the royal household creates an opening for him to be promoted to Prince Merrick’s valet.  Both men have preconceived notions of the other and I enjoyed how those perceptions were slowly but inexorably changed.  Both men are honourable, taking duty to heart and living their lives for others – Merrick for the continuity of the royal family and Cassius to support his widowed mother and two younger sisters.  There is, properly, a barrier between employer and employee, but valets are very intimately involved with their charges and it is not long before Cass and Merrick discover they both favour men.

There are other interests they share as well, including their personal passions.  To find a soul who understands your passion is truly beautiful  And whether attending the orphanage or riding horses, the two men find a way to bond.

Although they have a number of interludes, these moments are fleeting and there is always the danger of discovery.  There is one night when they get to be themselves and, wow, I loved that scene.



Merrick:  We will have one night in each other’s arms.

Cassius: Yes, my Prince…I would like to be on my knees for you, my Prince.

Merrick: You are beautiful, sweet Cassius.

Cassius: I shall smell you until your scent is engraved in my memory.  Each time I smell eucalyptus, I will think of you.

Merrick: Your words slay me, Cassius…They are like a sword that cuts into me.  Yet also the stitching that makes me whole.



Okay, I might have swooned.  Because who doesn’t secretly wish for someone to love them that way?  And, for the record, this is an equal opportunity relationship – both men give and take, treating each other as equals.

There is a moment of reckoning, of course, and I might have cried.

Okay, I cried.  I wanted the two men to have their happy ending and I wanted the world to embrace them and accept their love.  I live in the real world, though, and see every day how the LGBT community gets treated.  Still, I had high hopes for this magical kingdom in the snow.  As one of his sisters says to Cass, “do not allow Merrick to be your greatest regret,” after he tells her “he will do such great things in Ever Green.”

I am so glad I listened to this wonderful book, narrated by the brilliant Joel Leslie.  Since Ever Green is a fairy tale land – minus the magic – there is no grounding or need to be accurate.  Given that license, Joel was the perfect choice of performer, providing an accent that is indefinable but clearly present.  Prince Merrick has an upper crust tenor while Cassius is more of a commoner and, as always, Joel’s portrayal of the women and children in the men’s lives are brilliant.  For a man with such a deep voice, his ability to bring the lightness to the women is pitch-perfect and his orphanage matron’s voice had me laughing out loud.  I could just envision the woman haranguing the children and I got my smile.

Riley and Christina have collaborated before, but not in a fairy tale.  I hope that all little boys and girls get to hear about Prince Merrick and his Cassius.   (The PG version, of course.)  Maybe there might even be a children’s book…?

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

absolutely love this storyline the narrator loved

absolutely love the storyline in the narrator. the inventory that the author portrays is vivid erotic sensual

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Ever Angst

90% of this tale is romantic angst, but it has a good heart and ends well ... Ever after and such. The narration is top-notch and is likely the best part of the tale unless it is the cover art which for all intents and purposes looks like something from Disney which is appropriate as most of what Disney has done along the lines of fairy tale romance is very sugary to say the least.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Donna Hirsch
  • Donna Hirsch
  • 09-17-18

Perfection

Christina and Riley team up to make a wonderful fairytale come true. Joel does his job exceptionally well to bring it all to life.