Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell
Release date: March 18, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Chick Lit
In this witty, sexy tale, an erotic novelist meets the fictional hero of her most recent book in real life, and must decide whether she wants to get him back between the pages—or between her sheets.At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.
Then, during a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactly like the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking… places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all.
A story with this plot could easily be applied to any writer, but as the erotic romance genre has become ever more popular over the last couple years, it’s natural that people focus more on what it’s like to be one of those salacious authors. Do they publish under pseudonyms? Do they tell their friends what genre they write or pretend they’re writing something else? Elizabeth Maxwell took those questions and did more than ponder their answers – she created a story!
Happily Ever After is a cool and unique concept, centered on a smut writer who inexplicably finds her own characters have come to life. Fortunately, Maxwell did not go for the obvious path of devolving into a smut-themed story centered around the author and her fictional character. Instead, Maxwell kept things interesting with some fun dialogue, adding a fair number of surprises along the way, and diverging somewhat from the traditional ending.
Essentially, Happily Ever After tells two stories simultaneously, all through the eyes of a singular character – who is both a character in Maxwell’s book and a writer of her own book [within Maxwell’s book]. Truthfully, I think the execution is mildly satirical not only of the erotica genre itself, but particularly with what the public considers to be stereotypical of the genre’s authors. A single-mother, slightly-overweight divorcee with a gay ex-husband who has to resort to placing ads in the Classifieds in order to arrange a strangers-with-benefits situation? All that was missing in Sadie Fuller’s life of being a closet erotic author was a houseful of cats.
However, one thing this book does have going for it is that Happily Ever After could easily fit into several different genres. Although it contains elements of each, it never quite manages to find a way to fit singly in any of the romance, erotica, or supernatural genres. While that could make it difficult to recommend, the book’s core plot makes the book interesting enough to likely draw a variety of readers.
In all, Maxwell crafted a story that is well-written and as creative as it is unique. I was engaged in the story by the end of the first chapter, and it was better-executed than I had anticipated. That said, there are a few issues that keep it from being fantastic, most notably being that it lacked a truly compelling element; I had no problems putting it down when I wanted. As a whole, Happily Ever After‘s primary draw is that it’s intriguing in it’s difference, and as a result, readers will likely remember it long after they’ve finished it. In short: it’s a fun book, a quick read with a distinctive, well-written story.