(The Cracked Slipper Series: Book One)
When Eleanor Brice unexpectedly wins the heart of Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, she's sure she's found her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, Prince Charming has a loose grip on his temper, a looser grip on his marriage vows, and a tight grip on the bottle.
Eight years of mistreatment, isolation and clandestine book learning hardly prepare 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 matter worse, her royal fiancé spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation Eleanor realizes that she loves her husband's best friend, former soldier Dorian Finley.
Eleanor can't resist Dorian's honesty, or his unusual admiration for her intelligence, and soon both are caught in a dangerous obsession. She drowns her confusion in charitable endeavors, but the people's love can't protect her from her feelings. When a magical crime endangers the bond between unicorns, dragons, and the royal family, a falsely accused Eleanor must clear her own name to save her life. The road toward vindication will force a choice between hard-won security and an impossible love.
Ever wonder what happened to Cinderella and her Prince Charming after Happily Ever After? Stephanie Alexander answers that question very nicely in The Cracked Slipper.
I enjoyed the characters in this novel, I found them interesting and well rounded. The setting is a sort of renaissance era magical kingdom where animals talk and magic abounds. But this is no fairytale for little girls, this is the story of Cinderella all grown up with plenty of intrigue, mystery, and forbidden romance.
The plotline was pretty good and all the loose ends tied together nicely at the end. I liked that the stepmother was given a reason for hating Eleanor instead of her behavior stemming only from the fact that she isn't a very nice person. All the characters have believable motives for the way they behave and so feel very much like real people.
If you like your fantasy with a heavy dose of reality, you might want to give this one a try.