Fairytale Come Alive by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #4
Publication Date: November 22nd 2011
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In Isabella Austin Evangelista’s life miracles never happen… she knows she’s destined to be the princess who’s stuck in the middle of a fairytale where there will be no happily ever after.
Once upon a time, Prentice Cameron loved Isabella Austin until he discovered she was a spoiled, rich girl who spent her summers toying with his heart.
Life led Prentice to his own fairytale, the love of the full-of-life Fiona Sawyer. That being so, that fairytale was torn away when Fiona died of a brain tumor leaving Prentice with a house to keep clean, piles of laundry to be done, a business to run and two children who were getting tired of takeaway.
But Isabella comes back to Prentice’s tiny fishing town and she sweeps into his children’s lives like a beautiful, well-dressed fairy godmother who bakes exquisite chocolate cakes and gives the perfect manicure to six year old girls. Then Prentice finds out Isabella’s soul destroying secrets, secrets that explain why she left him so many years ago.
Fiona, stuck in her village and forced to haunt her family and watch Prentice and Isabella’s crazy dance, finds the impossible happening. She’s cheering for Bella and Prentice to rekindle their love. Then she finds out why she’s caught in her heartbreaking haunting and discovers she must embrace her magic and keep Bella safe or Bella’s fairytale will never come true.
First things first: that blurb is a hot mess. If I didn’t trust Ashley as an author I never would have bought it. Even with my trust I still downloaded a sample before committing fully.
Prentice and Isabella were madly in love for 15 months 20 years ago. Then her father showed up in town and pulled Bella away. She’d been living under his thumb for years and there was no way she could refuse him. Prentice thought Bella chose to leave and ended up marrying someone else and creating a wonderful family.
Now Bella is back in town a year after Prentice’s wife passed away, for the wedding of her best friend to her old flame, one of Prentice’s closest friends. He’s struggling with his and his children’s grief and the last thing he wants or needs is to be saddled with Bella. But Annie, the bride, insists Bella stay with him since her house is filled and she wouldn’t be treated well in the local hotel (the town turned against Bella when she left). He can’t tell her no and ends up having the woman who broke his heart living in his back pocket.
Bella knew it would be hard returning to Scotland and facing Prentice, but she had no idea just how poorly he thought of her. His sadness over the loss of his wife is hard to bear, but his absolute hatred of her is beyond devastating. She’s determined to get through the week, support her best friend as she marries the love her of life, and get gone. But she didn’t expect to fall madly, deeply in love with Prentice’s children. As she herself can’t have children, they’re an absolute blessing in her life.
As the details of her life come to light, Prentice reevaluates his feelings for her and realizes she may not have been solely to blame for their break up all those years ago. He also realizes his feelings for her never really went away..when she lets herself relax and shows him the girl he knew 20 years ago, he can’t resist her.
I don’t really care for Ashley’s suspense plots. She includes them in the majority of her books and they’re generally superfluous and, frankly, over-the-top and silly. Not only is there one of those in this book, but the ghost of Prentice’s ex is hanging around and a good portion of the book is told from her point-of-view. That aspect of the story was pretty cheesy. I mostly rolled my eyes and skimmed those chapters, or pretended she was a narrator.
I cried my way through the first half of this book. It really grabbed me. Bella’s pain touched me in a surprising way. While I generally enjoy Ashley’s novels I don’t usually become that emotional over them. She was somewhat of a martyr, yet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. The way the town – and especially Prentice – treated her really got me.
Prentice frustrated me a lot. He was quick to jump to conclusions about her and didn’t react well when pieces of her past were revealed. He was redeemed for me in the second half when he realizes his mistakes and set about fixing them. His remorse over walking away from Bella initially and treating her poorly in the present went a long way toward soothing my ill feelings toward him.
The second half didn’t work and well. It was slow moving in parts and spent a lot of time going over the same things again and again. Pren and Bella’s back-and-forthing became kind of tedious and the ghost thing got out of control. But the angst factor was high and really pulled me in. Despite my annoyances, I was invested in seeing Pren discover Bella’s secrets and seeing them get together. And I loved his kids.
Ashley writes kids really well and these were some of her best. They really carried the story, in the second half especially.
The first half and the kids made it worth the read. A warning: The epilogue is ridiculous and irritating. I’ve read the book several times now and I always skip it completely. I just get angry when I read it.
Though this book is flawed, I can’t deny it pulled me in completely. I wanted Bella and Prentice to get it together and work it out. I’m glad I stuck it through to the end.
3.75 out of 5
Fun Fact: Prentice is mentioned as the architect of the heroine’s house in Soaring, book 2 in the Magdeline series (though there is no connection between that series and this book).