“Skipping Midnight” by Laura Kenyon
(Book Three: Desperately Ever After series)
One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.
For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after” has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack.
Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.
Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon’s Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss.
At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.
The final chapter in the Amazon #1 bestselling Desperately Ever After series (women’s fiction fantasy, women’s fiction humor, and paranormal fantasy). Says New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich: “Laura Kenyon makes happily ever after desperately delicious!”
Belle vowed not to cry until her room was completely empty and her baby was safe in the hospital nursery a few floors below.
Dr. Frolick had been insisting for hours that this was the best place for him, at least for the first night while she got her bearings. The phrase was laughable. Got her bearings? Not two days ago, her handy, week-by-week pregnancy calendar said her baby was roughly the size of a spaghetti squash. It said his lips and eyebrows were becoming more distinct, and while the eyes were no longer fused shut, they’d yet to acquire any pigment. It said her baby wouldn’t be fully formed for another fifteen weeks, and she shouldn’t expect to hold him until the trees stood bare along Fifth Avenue, draped in fuzzy white lights.
Back then, Belle was secretly rooting for a girl—partly because she thought Donner might back off more with a girl, and partly because Belle’s bloodline had so far been a blight on the female race. Not that she intended to live through her child or anything. She just wanted to raise a happy, grounded, decent and well-rounded kid—one who counted on her mother in every way Belle hadn’t been able to count on her own.
But boy or girl, she couldn’t wait to play and cuddle and read bedtime stories until neither of them could hold their eyes open any longer. This little angel was going to give her life meaning where it had been almost entirely stripped away.
She’d already bought a bookshelf and had plans to stuff it with so many stories, the sides would bow weeks before the little one even arrived. Her phone overflowed with links to layette sets, which she sorted through every chance she got. And her baby shower registry—should her friends plan one—was fourteen pages long the last time she checked. Not that she’d actually shown it to anyone … or purchased the books … or assembled the bookshelf. Time had been scarce.
Belle had been too busy trying to break the magically sealed prenuptial contract that treated her child like an heirloom tchotchke. She’d been preoccupied by Ruby’s theory that all broken curses would return if she didn’t suck it up and go back to her vain, unfaithful, domineering husband. She’d been struggling to get the Phoenix off the ground so that if she managed to retain custody of her baby, she’d actually be able to support him. And as if that wasn’t enough, her ramped up hormones had caused her to fall in love with a shadowy, captivating drifter at the worst moment imaginable.
But now, overlooking a sea of candles from the thirty-fifth floor of Marestam General Hospital, her superglued life was shattered all over again. Her “fresh start” was a charred mound of sticks in the Braddax Hills. Her independent source of income was going to need some painfully expensive remodeling. Her brand new wardrobe, her journals, and the nursery she’d carved out in her haven of a bedroom were all gone. Even the second-chance romance she’d never expected was dangling in some precarious, gray area (no pun intended) between regret and redemption.
All of the sudden, none of the things she’d spent so much time fretting over mattered. Now—holding her newborn baby in her arms and obsessively tracing his swollen cheeks, his dark, curly hair, and his crinkly lips that puffed out like the crust of an apple pie—the only thing that mattered was that she was a mother.
A secret mother.
A secret mother to a premature, magical newborn who looked like a nine-week-old infant and whose life could be in danger if Marestam’s Prime Minister found out he’d taken his first breath.
**This excerpt comes from Skipping Midnight’s first chapter and picks up just a few hours after Damsels in Distress left off. (Fair warning: It was difficult to choose an excerpt without spoiling things for anyone who hasn’t finished the previous books yet, so continue at your own risk!) Belle is at the hospital, having just discovered that her home/business is in ruins and that the unborn baby she was carrying … which wasn’t supposed to be born for another seventeen weeks … is literally sleeping in her arms. And yes, there is magic at work.
Desperately Ever After (Book One) – Currently $0.99, until the 11th of November!
About the author: LAURA KENYON is an award-winning journalist and the author of three novels, Desperately Ever After, Damsels in Distress, and Skipping Midnight. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications. The Boston College graduate does not live in a castle, but has been blessed with a heroic prince charming, two beautiful princesses, and a noble steed.
To learn more about Laura, visit her website at www.laurakenyon.com and sign up for exclusive updates. She also loves connecting with readers on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook. And for a peek at how she envisions Marestam, check out her Desperately Ever After board on Pinterest.
Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!
Prize Pack 1, (US only):
A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)
An assortment of treats for your next girls’ night in (sorry, rampion not included!)
A snazzy memory box to ship it all in 😉
Prize Pack 2 , (Worldwide!)
This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella
To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!
**Click HERE for the pre-order link!