The Cracked Slipper Series is a book club friendly take on the myth of happily-ever-after. Set in an enchanted kingdom full of magic, wonder, and courtly intrigue, the series imagines how life might have really turned out for the beloved princess with the glass shoes. The story follows Eleanor Brice, an unlikely princess struggling to manage her unhappy marriage, her childhood trauma and dysfunctional family, insecurities, embarrassment, and an illicit love affair, all while hoping to smash the patriarchy. Readers will relate to Eleanor's personal challenges, while finding an escape in her fantastical ones - in addition to her everyday problems, she battles powerful magical foes with the help of witches, unicorns, and a gossipy parrot.
The Cracked Slipper Series follows approximately twenty years of Eleanor's life, as she evolves from an insecure teenager to a young mother to a powerful leader in her own right. Told in three installments, The Cracked Slipper, The Dragon Choker, and The Glass Rainbow, this fractured fairytale will enthrall those who question simple happy endings.
When Eleanor Brice loses a glass slipper, she unexpectedly gains a royal fiancé and a way out of her abusive stepmother's house. Unfortunately, eight years of mistreatment, isolation, and clandestine book learning hardly prepared Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According to Eleanor's eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike tendency to voice her opinion. To make matters worse, Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation, Eleanor realizes she loves her husband's best friend, the intellectual, surprisingly sensitive former soldier, Dorian Finley. As Gregory's mercurial nature comes to light, Eleanor wrestles with her feelings for Dorian, flounders in her new role, and makes powerful enemies-foes who use Eleanor as a scapegoat in a magical plot to unseat the royal family.
Eleanor Brice is a princess. She lives in an enchanted castle. She even has her own unicorn. But she's lived through childhood trauma, she has insecurities and anxieties, and she makes dreadful relationship choices. In short, she's a real woman in a fairy tale world, and this is her happily-ever-after.
Eleanor Brice Desmarais, she of the cracked glass slipper and unladylike intellectual propensities, has learned that happily-ever-after is as rare as a frozen dragon, even for a happenstance princess. She survived a plot against her life, but her marriage to the alcoholic, womanizing Prince Gregory of Cartheigh remains at best a sham, and at worse, a potential noose around her neck. Gregory is increasingly suspicious of Eleanor's unusually close relationship with his best friend, Dorian Finley, and with good reason. Ironically, Gregory seems to be engaged in his own scandalous love affair- with Eleanor's scheming stepsister, no less. Eleanor understands the harsh realities of women's lives in her kingdom, so she turns her energies to a school for impoverished girls, until an evil magician's deception destroys the school and unleashes a festering plague. From the Fire-iron walls of Eclatant Palace to the slums of Meggett Fringe, no one, magical or mundane, is safe from the fever-induced delirium of the Great Burning. Not even Eleanor's children.
As Eleanor's happily-ever-after morphs from circumspect to heartbreaking to mortally dangerous, for both herself and Dorian, she faces her greatest losses and her harshest reckoning. No matter what life hands her, however, she finds the strength do what she must. She stares down her challenges, protects her loved ones, and fights to change the world. Just like women everywhere, in her world, and ours.
Four years have passed since Eleanor Brice Desmarais's darkest secret came to heartbreaking, perilous light. The princess with the glass slippers still mourns unimaginable losses, including the deaths of her son and her best friend. Her lover, Dorian Finley, is in exile in a far northern kingdom. Eleanor and her husband, Crown Prince Gregory of Cartheigh, barely tolerate one another. Her two daughters are the bright stars in what feels like an existence of endless night.
When husband and wife travel north on a diplomatic mission, Eleanor, Dorian, and Gregory resume their dangerous love triangle, with continued interference from Eleanor's wily stepsister. Gregory's father suddenly dies, and Gregory unexpectedly assumes the throne. Eleanor's old magical nemesis, Ezra Oliver, reappears with his most devious scheme yet: a mysterious alliance with an army of vicious, bloodthirsty ogres. His plot pushes the known nations to the brink of war, and exposes strange connections between Eleanor's world and our own. Eleanor finds a solution to the crisis that should prevent carnage, but her plan places her daughter Natalie in terrible danger.
The crown is a heavy burden, and Gregory leans on Eleanor and Dorian's counsel. When Gregory suffers a grave injury, everything changes. Eleanor must rethink years of grudges, resentment, and animosity. As she truly embraces her own power, she finds herself learning to forgive, and asking for forgiveness.
The long-awaited conclusion to Stephanie Alexander's Cracked Slipper Series brings a satisfying resolution to a beloved fairytale. Eleanor's surprisingly relatable enchanted life is a testament to the power of personal evolution, and a reminder that there are no simple happy endings.