I grew up on princess stories–though, admittedly, quite often I saw them in the form of Disney movies. Still, I loved them, and that love continues today.
It’s not a surprise, then, that I love to see the concept behind them twisted, as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean an author needs to take them in a dark direction, though I certainly enjoy that sort of twist. I just mean that I like to see them taken in a new sort of direction.
Like, for instance, the direction Blair Babylon has taken with her new novel, Once Upon A Time. Based on today’s excerpt, this novel takes the typical princess tale and turns it on its head with a sharp sense of humour, and something that can only be described as sensual. It definitely leaves me wanting to read more.
Before you keeping reading for the excerpt, though, take a moment to head on over to Blair’s Rafflecopter. She’s giving away a $100 gift card, a signed paperback, and a secret mug.
About the book
When a real princess falls in love with a man who is definitely not a prince, a royal fairy tale turns dangerous.
ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a beautiful princess, Flicka von Hannover, who lived an enchanted life. She jetted around Europe staging charity events with friends, had married a handsome prince in the most spectacular royal wedding of the 21st century, and should have lived happily ever after.
But then she found the handsome prince in bed with a duchess. And then a coffee shop barista. And then her own goddamn secretary.
Finally, the beautiful princess had had enough of the cheating prince, and she ran away.
Once she had stepped out of the royal fairy tale, life became grayer, grittier, and rougher. The prince didn’t like that she had left and sent henchmen to take her back to the castle. Her worried royal brother sent people to look for her, too.
But the princess didn’t want to be found. The princess got a job as a waitress in a diner in New York City and made her own way in the world. Even cut off from everyone she knew, she was more resourceful than she had thought she might be. She did okay. From hiding, she sent legal separation papers and then divorce documents, but the prince wouldn’t sign them. He said he wouldn’t let her go. Even in these modern times, the prince could lock the princess up in a dungeon of legal forms and provisions that she wouldn’t be able to break out of. The prince wanted his princess back because he couldn’t take his throne without her.
Until a man walked into her diner one day, one who was frankly not a handsome prince.
He was the last man on Earth the princess should have fallen in love with.
Flicka glanced around them, finally remembering some operational protocol.
She said, “Dance with me.”
Dieter looked out over the crowd of targets and potential perpetrators. “I’m on duty.”
“Everyone is looking at us because we are just standing here, arguing. We’re too conspicuous. Dance with me so people will stop staring.”
He had never danced with her in public. The lapse in protocol would have been insane. “It’s your wedding reception. You just married your husband. You should be dancing with him and mingling.”
“I have mingled and made the rounds and greeted until even I, a classic extrovert, am terribly tired of peopling.”
“Dancing with me would be inappropriate.”
She laughed. “Everybody thinks you’re like an uncle to me.”
That felt like a punch to the gut on so many levels. “Could you say anything to make me feel worse?”
“Even Wulf thinks that.” Her brother, and Dieter’s best friend.
“And there it is.” The banter felt friendly, even normal, and he succumbed to it.
“Come on. Dance with me,” Flicka insisted and held her arms out for him to slide into the waltzing position.
Not taking her in his arms would look more suspicious than just accepting.
Dieter Schwarz, son of no one and owner of nothing, former military officer with no past known before his conscription as if he had dropped out of a cloud onto a Swiss mountain peak, took the hand of Her Serene Highness Friederike Augusta von Hannover and rested his hand on her waist.
The bandage on his arm where the bullet had creased his biceps that morning bulged under his suit jacket.
The tiny beads encrusting her reception dress were sharp against his palm and fingers, and her other hand was as delicate as a breeze in his.
Twice, that day, he had felt her skin against his flesh.
He hadn’t touched her for two years.
Only a thin layer of silk and glass beads separated his palm and fingers from the soft skin of her back.
That morning when he had seen the sunlight flash on the telescopic sight atop the gun, he dove for Flicka and gathered her body and limbs under his. He’d pressed his cheek to her forehead as bullets slammed the ground around him and burrowed through the meat of his arm.
And now, this innocent dance with the bride of the evening, her slender body bending in his arms and her hand clasped in his, was the second time he had touched her today and in as many years.
Every thought drifted away from him except that Flicka von Hannover was in his arms again.
Everyone thought he was like an uncle to her.
Everyone except him and her, who knew better.
Her lithe form swayed inches from his chest. Roses perfumed her skin, and he breathed in that familiar, maddening scent.
Dieter’s attention drew back from the crowd and the vantage points above and the jackals in the room. He focused on Flicka’s warmth in his hands.
The orchestra was playing a waltz.
Dieter stepped toward Flicka as she stepped back, and he steered her through the crowd.
Flicka asked, “Is he going to ask her to marry him tonight?”
“He told me he would. Rae is the sweetest, kindest woman I’ve ever met.”
“I am standing right here.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Asshole.” She moved a little closer to his chest.
Dieter slid his hand farther around her back. The tiny beads felt rough on his palm and caught on his calluses. “Rae doesn’t want to burn the world down.”
Flicka shrugged. “Occupational hazard.”
About the author
USA Today Bestselling Author Blair Babylon is an award-winning author who regularly publishes contemporary romance and romantic suspense fiction. After writing literary fiction where reviews usually included the caveat that there was too much deviant sex, she decided to abandon all literary pretensions, let her freak flag fly, and write hot, sexy, erotic romance with crazy, breakneck plot turns.
Blair sends out chatty, fun emails with great deals. Hey, she’s a reader, too, and she understands that it’s hard to find great new writers to read and harder to find great freebies and deals.