Series: Forbidden Love #2
Authors: Riley Hart & Christina Lee
Cover Artist: Sarah Jo Chreene
Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Length: 288 pages
Reviewed by Michael
With his raven hair and snow-white skin, Lord Ansil Eirwin draws unwanted attention wherever he goes. After his father’s untimely death, Ansil is set to become Duke of Ravenswood on his next birthday. The gallant and timid lord would never dream of shirking responsibility, so he subverts his desires in order to please his mother and new stepfather, Reginald.
Orien Moore, known as the Huntsman, lives on the fringes and has forsaken close bonds with anyone, even the misfits he has taken in. When Orien is called upon by his brother, Reginald, to kill the pampered future duke, it is the perfect opportunity to seek revenge against his power-hungry brother. Orien formulates a plan to use Reginald’s vicious request to his advantage by kidnapping Ansil and holding him hostage until he can fulfill his birthright.
Soon Orien realizes that Ansil is nothing like he’d expected. Kind and joyful, Ansil enchants Orien and his ragtag group. And Ansil, in turn, cannot help but be curious about the gruff huntsman as Orien’s vulnerabilities are exposed. Their mutual interest transforms into affection, followed by overwhelming desire. But they are living on borrowed time.
With Reginald seeking power in Ravenswood, they have no way of knowing what will transpire once Orien returns Ansil to his proper place in society. The only certainty is that the odds are stacked against them. Will the young lord and his huntsman ever have the chance to experience the happily ever after they’ve found in each other’s arms?
***PLEASE NOTE: FOREVER MOORE is a romantic fairy tale—minus the magic—that features one reluctant lord, one brooding huntsman, and plenty of angsty, forbidden love. It’s loosely based on a treasured fairy tale in a make-believe setting that isn’t part of any specific time period and doesn’t play by any traditional rules. It also completely stands alone from EVER AFTER.
As a kid growing up, I didn’t pay much attention to fairytales. They were geared toward people like me. Most of them featured a damsel in distress in need of rescuing by a knight in shining armor. Once the rescue was complete, the new couple (who had instantly fallen in love, by the way) rose off into the sunset together to live their Happily Ever After. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, the term “Happily Ever After” comes from these fairytales. None of these stories had anything to do with little gay boys like me. So instead, I would create situations in which Luke Skywalker would need rescuing from the dashing Han Solo. Or, Apollo and Starbuck (from the original Battlestar Galactica) would connect and raise Apollo’s son Boxey together. I was shipping long before shipping was actually a thing.
So, I was super excited when Christina Lee and Riley Hart decided to take these fairy tales and rework them in ways that would be more relatable to little gay boys like me. Much like the fairytales these books are based on, Christina and Riley’s stories are almost completely independent from one another.
Forever Moore is their second fairytale retelling. It’s a riff on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, complete with big Huntsman, the wicked step-parent, and the poison apple.
Orien is the Huntsman. He’s noble and reserved, with a well-earned hatred for his brother Reginald (who is also the step-father to the other MC, Ansil). He maintains an estate far removed from the rest of society, and “collects” people in need of saving, seven of whom have ended up living on his estate. (Now, it’s here that I will freely admit that I didn’t clue in to the fact that these seven were Riley and Christina’s version of the dwarves because…well… they aren’t dwarves. But I had a giant moment of duh as I neared the end of the book)
Ansil is every bit the Snow White character: pale skin, raven black hair, and bright red lips. He’s about to turn twenty-one, at which time he will inherit his late-father’s title and the wealth and notoriety the title comes with. Reginald, the snake that he is, comes up with a scheme to get rid of his step-son and take the inheritance for himself. Which is where Orien comes into play.
Riley and Christina write seamlessly together. Some authors have a “tell”, certain phrases that they use in their own books that also get used in the collaborations. There’s none of that here. The entire book has one, singular voice.
I loved this fairytale!!! It’s kind of a slow burn. Despite the circumstances in which they originally meet, the MC’s learn about each other at their own individual paces. The “Black Moment” was a natural outgrowth of the characters different roles in Society, and the resolution was completely believable.
So if you believe in the power of the Happily Ever After, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
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