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Review of Once Upon a Forbidden Desire

Fantasy romance readers, just cough up 99 cents and check out Once Upon a Forbidden Desire.  This is a lovely collection!  Each author’s story begins with a title, the name of the fairy tale that serves as the inspiration and heat rating of 1 to 4 candles.  1 candle is low heat and 4 candles is scorching.  Also, some authors included trigger warnings if their story warranted it. 

It’s nice to have two great authors (Grace Daven and Jeffe Kennedy) contribute the forward.  But the shine of this collection comes from the tale telling! There are so many great stories in this fantasy romance collection!  There were authors I had read previously, some I have always wanted to read and some were new to me. Readers of the genre are sure to find several tales that appeal to them.  I liked most of them.  A couple of the stories did not give the villains their just desserts, which made me like them less.  There was one story I could not get into and did not finish.  But what did not appeal to me, will be a favorite of some other reader.

For me, there were a handful I gave 5 stars to.  These stories all included engaging storytelling, mature characters, a happy ending for the heroine and hero, and where necessary, a chastised villain.  For the sake of your time and my space, I will limit my review to my top 5.

Idyllwild (Cernunnos, Lord of the Wild Things) by Maria Vale.  My favorite story in the collection.  This one is not so much based on a fairy tale as it is on celtic lore.  The unusual world is a cool combination of a modern city with old world ideals, along with unique flora and an obsession with the local cuisine.  The Demonkeeper concept, that a person can get rid of their inner demons, is an interesting concent.  Are we better with or without them?  Or are we all just our own demonkeepers? 

About Idyllwild – Idara is a Demonkeeper. Inside her are bound Lust, Obsession, Fear, and other uncontrollable demons that might distract the staid and hardworking citizens of Summerhouses. Then one demon is bound to her that is not like the others. One that is very wild and very, very angry.

How to Marry a Winged King (Cinderella) by AJ Lancaster.  The first story in the anthology sets a very high bar for the rest of the book.  Cinderalla is a story we’ve all know since we were very young and we have experienced in many versions over the years.  I adored this fresh take on the story of the downtrodden servant who becomes all that she should be.  The spin in this story is the king’s role in recognizing that woman. 

About How to Marry a Winged King – When the fae king announces he’ll choose a bride at the Thrice-Held Ball, Cinders is forbidden to attend. As a lowly human, she’s never been good enough for her noble fae family. Certainly not good enough to appear with them in public. But that was before she received an enchanted mask that alters her appearance.

Into the Bargain (Rumplestiltskin) by Colleen Cowley.  As I was reading this story, I recognized the world of the Clandestine Magic series.  It serves as a charming supplemental story about that world.  This is the tale of a strong heroine who goes after what she wants.  Even if what she wants changes. After all, it’s all about going with the flow.

About Into the Bargain – Pen never thought she’d need to convince her town’s wizard to marry her, but he’s her least awful option. When his droll assistant offers a questionable bargain to help her secure the man, she knows she should turn it down. But what choice does she have?

Blood Dance (The Twelve Dancing Princess) by Vela Roth.  The fairy tale basis for this story is less well known than many other tales.  I remember reading it, but not all the details.  Which actually enhanced the story.  I wasn’t second guessing what would happen.  In it, the heroine, finally gets the happy ending she has ensured for everyone around her. While her father plots to keep her from that happiness, others are determined to make it happen.  It’s great to have people who care for you!

About Blood Dance– Phoebe, a widow in her thirties, feels like a princess every time fanged, immortal Alethas spirits her out of her father’s castle for dances under the full moon. After years of making sacrifices for her eleven sisters, she’s tempted to let him fulfill all her secret desires. But loving a Hesperine like him could get a proper lady like her killed.

The Big Bad Wolf (Little Red Riding Hood) by Kathryn Ann Kingsley.  This one appealed to me because of the heroine, a business owner who is in complete control.  Well, until the hot hero comes to town. 

About The Big Bad Wolf – Annie likes her quiet life running Grandma’s House, the only bar in town. Not much exciting happens this deep in Minnesota, and she kind of prefers it that way. But all that changes when the dark, brooding stranger shows up with a smile that looks like it could kill. Wolf is after one thing and one thing only— the hunt. And Annie is looking good enough to eat right up.

Other stories included are:

Call of the Dark Piper (The Pied Piper of Hamelin) by Zoey Ellis

Wish Upon a Frog (The Frog Prince) by Jaycee Jarvis

The Prince and the Fairy Godmother (Snow White) by HR Moore

The Sadder But Wiser Girl (Beauty and the Beast) by CM Nascosta

Dream Girl (Snow White) by Kristin Gleeson

Her Majesty’s Wolf  (Red Riding Hood) by L Penelope

Heartfall (Rapunzel) by Lisette Marshall

Breathing Techniques for Water Nymphs (Ondine) by Erin Vere

Seducing the King (Cinderella) by Trish Heinrich

Three Knights (Baba Yaga) by SL Prater

The Merman’s Kiss (The Little Mermaid) by Elise Winters

By the Skin of a Bear (Bearskin) by November Dawn

A Dragon and a Hard Place (Sleeping Beauty) by Mimi B. Rose

Back to the Woods (Hansel and Gretel) by Jennie Lynn Roberts

The Troll’s Daughter (The Troll’s Daughter) by Dani Morrison

I received a complimentary copy of this book. My review is my honest opinion.

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About Once Upon a Forbidden Desire

When it comes to true love, rules are meant to be broken …

Dark forests and locked doors, poisoned apples and forbidden lovers … Bold heroines and swoon-worthy heroes break all the rules in this enchanting anthology of the fairy tales you thought you knew.

Once Upon A Forbidden Desire features 20 enticing fairy tale retellings by a diverse selection of fantasy romance authors. From sweet true love’s kisses to sizzling passion, from the streets of Seattle to enchanted forests, and from poor scullery maids to a winged Prince Charming …

If you enjoy spellbinding romance, enthralling new worlds, and stories with a taste of the forbidden, these happily ever afters will leave you spellbound. Give in to the temptation and grab your copy of Once Upon a Forbidden Desire now.

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