Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ever After by Kate SeRine
Series: Transplanted Tales #4
Published by Kensington Books on December 14, 2022
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
For centuries, Gideon Montrose has served the King of Fairies without question and, often, without mercy. So when the King orders him to apprehend a notorious thief, Gideon obeys. But when he finally gets his hands on the beautiful culprit, Gideon's in for a shock.
Arabella Locksley is none other than the spirited, unpredictable woman he knew back in Make Believe as Robin Hood--the love of his life whose tragic death destroyed his chance at Happily Ever After.
Now, he has an impossible choice. Betray the woman he once loved, or the king he's bound to serve?
Ever After is the fourth and currently last book of the Transplanted Tales following a group of characters from various fairytales and characters from literature who have ended up in the real world and figured out how to make a life for themselves.
Gideon loved a woman a long time ago and he thought he lost her to death. But now she has moved over to the real world from the Fae/fantasy one they used to be in and he will do anything to figure out how to keep her here.
Arabella Locksley was Robin Hood in the make believe land they came from and a descendent of Arthur (yes that Arthur of the round table). She was lost and then one day she wasn’t, but she is fading and no one knows why. Gideon has just been reunited with his one true love and will go on a quest to find all the relics of Arthur in this new land of real life to protect the woman he loves from fading away.
Arabella could be a little infuriating. She has been running her entire life and it is just a natural instinct to run away from, well everything. Gideon is a true hero, who I’ve become a bit attached to throughout the series. No matter how Arabella tries this time, he is going to convince her that running is the last thing she ever needs to do again, unless she is running to him.
Gideon is adorable and I love his Fae heritage. This is a cute tale blending Robin Hood/Arthur and the Lady of the Lake along with some Fae trappings. I was pulling for the characters all the way through and I’ve even decided to like the Faery king who trapped Gideon into his service after Arabella’s supposed death.
Overall a very interesting ending to this story with a few unexpected developments. It really led me to believe there might be some other stories in the mind of the author for this world.
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“This was a mistake.”
“Well, I guess that’s the theme of our relationship,” I mumbled. “And I made the biggest mistake of all, believin’ y’ever cared for me.”
The sting of her open palm connecting with my cheek caught me off guard.
“Say what you want about the mistakes I’ve made,” she raged, her cheeks growing red with indignation. “There’s certainly no shortage of them. But don’t you ever question how much I loved you! By doing so you insult us both.”
I stared at her, literally struck mute.
When I didn’t speak, she swallowed a sob and turned away. “I have to go,” she called over her shoulder. “I’ve already stayed too long.” Her hurried steps carried her a few yards before I blew out a harsh sigh and let fly a stream of juicy curses, knowing I was a glutton for punishment even as I went after her.
“Arabella! Wait!” I grabbed her arm, bringing her to a stop but releasing her when the wounded look in her eyes cut me to the core. I put my hands on my hips, staring at my feet as I debated what to say, not willing to look her in the face, afraid that if I met the eyes I adored, I’d lose myself in them.
I’d never stopped loving her, had never stopped thinking about her. As ridiculous as it seemed, some part of me had always held out hope that she’d somehow miraculously return. And here she was, right before me. She said she didn’t know what had happened to her, what had kept her away . . . And I wanted to believe it. My long-broken heart whispered bitter words, telling me to walk away and never look back, that that part of my life was over.
But it was a lie. That part of my life would never be over. She’d filled my heart in a way no woman ever had or would again. And I wasn’t about to piss on that by turning her away when she clearly needed me.
“What trouble are y’in?” I asked, forcing my voice to be gentle.
“It’s my concern,” she said with a sniff, making me feel like an irredeemable jackass for bringing her to tears. “I didn’t come here to beg you to help me or to drag you into my mess. I just . . . I just wanted to see you again. I dream of you, of us, every night, Gideon. When I close my eyes, your face is all I see. I know you don’t believe me, but I did love you—I still do. I always will.”
I felt my chest tighten at her words, wanting so desperately to believe her. I risked raising my gaze to hers, gauging her sincerity. To my surprise, she actually seemed to be telling the truth.
Damn me to hell, but I was gonna fall for her all over again. Even though I was furious and hurting and knew with certainty that I was bound for heartache again, I was powerless to stop it. But she didn’t have to know that. And I’d make sure she didn’t. I’d managed to keep my emotions in check all these years, had learned to maintain the stoic silence that was required of my servitude to the king. I never imagined I’d need those skills to guard my heart. And when she left again—as she’d already admitted she would—I’d at least be able to maintain my dignity.
In the meantime, I couldn’t abandon her now any more than I could the day we’d met. What nobility remained a part of me forbade it. I’d be a friend to her. Just a friend. I owed it to what we’d once shared to at least try to accept that whatever had happened to her, whatever mysterious force had kept her from coming to me, she was here now. And she needed my help.
I smoothed my hand down her arm, drawing her closer, shoving aside all my feelings of anger and betrayal to focus on quieting the fear I saw in her eyes, on being the friend she needed me to be at this moment. “Tell me what’s happened to you, lass. Let me help you. I’ll talk to my king. I’ll do whatever I can. You know I will. Just tell me what you’ve done.”
The look she gave me was agonized, torn. Finally, she nodded and slipped her hand into mine, little sparks of desire firing off in my blood at the touch of her skin. “Let me show you.”
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