Tag Team Review: Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee

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.

3.25 Average

Lost in a Book - 3.5 Hearts

I had some serious grabby hands for this book. Before I cracked it open, many of my happy boxes were checked; Historical, fantasy, fairy tale spin off, difference in stations, and an interesting cover. While it didn’t live up to the excite I had going into it, it was still ridiculously sweet, with some enjoyable moments, and likable MCs.

Prince Merrick is the crown prince and his parents are trying to wife him up and knock her up so he can ensure the line of succession. He’s a dreamer and an artist with a kind heart and an affinity for men. Merrick is also loyal and squelches his desire while focusing on duty to his family, throne, and the people in his kingdom. He’s also pretty successful at keeping everything under wraps until he needs a new valet and the gorgeously intriguing, Cassius is chosen.

Cassius is under employ at the palace and moves up the ranks quickly. He’s a hard worker that focuses on providing for his family after the passing of his father. He’s enamored with Prince Merrick and helping him dress and bathe doesn’t help his attraction in the slightest.

Both men are around the same age and develop a solid bond. They understand the demands of duty and the implications of their sexuality for those around them. Especially in a time when it’s frowned upon. Their sense of duty delays a connection beyond friendship. Every After is a slooooooow burn that is full of attraction and stolen moments that were innocent- yet full of potential. Once they break the proverbial seal…yowza. They were also adorable while content to just be together in silent companionship. There wasn’t much angst other than the obvious difference in station and sexuality that led to an easy HEA.

The first 3/4 of the story had me back and forth on my enjoyment levels. All the suitor situations dragged on with the force feeding of eligible women. The pace and plot picked up around 75% causing my enjoyment level to increase. I’m just a bit confused about the historical elements. It went back and forth between trying to use Valet/Prince customs and language to then got lost and became more modern communication/convienences on the next page. I’m assuming that’s where the fantasy elements came in which requires much suspension in “reality?” Around 85% there were finally some of feels that I wish were available throughout. They left me happy but also disappointed at the missed opportunity for the rest of the book.

Let’s talk about the females in this story… LOVE them. They were written with backbones, strength, fire, loyalty, and compassion. It’s always refreshing whether in M/M of M/F to have strong characters without the need to prop one up by demeaning or short-changing another.


Overall, this book has a sweet setting, sweet MCs, sweet romance, sweet families, sweet, sweet, sweet. That’s not a bad thing and many will absolutely connect with these adorable men and their plight. I would have liked more cohesive historical elements, more action (not that kind…) to shake up the monotony, and more feels. Still, a pleasant read and recommended for those that are looking for low angst with a ginormous helping of cheesy sweetness.

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 3 Hearts

To be honest, I’m a bit torn about how I feel about this story. I can see how this could appeal to many and also, I can see how some might be not as enamored.

Prince Merrick has a lot of responsibility weighing on him. He’s to inherit the throne and needs to find a wife because most importantly, he needs to provide an heir. Funny that. Too bad he doesn’t fancy women. At all. However, Merrick knows his duty and he resigns himself to his fate, but it seems that his new valet Cassius, through no fault of his own, won’t allow Merrick to just easily fall in line and accept what he’s honor bound to do.

Cassius on the other hand, has a pretty big chip on his shoulder, having had to struggle his whole life to help support his family by working very very hard. Now, more than ever since his father has passed away, he must not jeopardize his new job as he’s the sole provider for his sick mum and two younger sisters. Cassius wants to hate Prince Merrick on principle, but as he gets to know him, he can’t help but admire all that the prince does for his people and see a caring man who’s just as trapped as he is.

I have to give credit because this is a thoughtful rumination on class differences and the weight of responsibility on both these men. It is realistic in the evolving relationship between a prince and his servant where crossing the social lines is unheard of and not condoned. The attraction and feels are organic, and the inner turmoil these men go through was heartfelt.

However, this has brought home the fact that I have a tough relationship with historicals (though this is very historical-lite in its fictional setting) which always encompasses MC’s who have to be in the closet, and it just makes me a complete nervous nelly and my overall enjoyment is quite affected. Plus, for some reason the idea of a fairy tale really appeals but ultimately, it never enchants me as much as I’d like it to. Despite my personal qualms, I'm sure many will love this very romantic story about two disparate individuals who have nary a chance at finding their happy ever after with each other. This is light in the overall angst thankfully, as well as having some good steamy scenes, but perhaps because of its fairy tale connotations, this clashed with its more contemporary leanings and thus, it felt disjointed and a bit underwhelming to me.

Regardless, Hart and Lee are typically consistent wins, and if you’re familiar with that and agree, I don’t think readers will be disappointed.

Thank you to the authors/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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