First Night: Four Fairy Tales Retold by Caroline Aubrey

Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid

Fantasy, Fairy Tale

ISBN: 978-1-60313-289-3

Reviewed by Patrice F.



“La Belle Rose”

A merchant loses his fortune when his ships are lost at sea.  He and his children must now live in a forest cottage.  The youngest, Beauty, continues to keep up everyone’s spirits with stories and songs.  Beauty longs for the roses she tended in her father’s garden.  She asks her father to bring back a rose for her after he receives news about one of his ships.   The trip is a lost cause and the merchant faces hardship until he is taken in and cared for by a mysterious host—The Beast.  The Beast doesn’t make his presence known until the merchant attempts to take a rose to his daughter.  Of course, Beauty is the “price” for her father’s transgression.

Ms. Aubrey gives passionate nights to innocent Beauty and the Beast who gently seduces her.  “La Belle Rose” teases the imagination and boils hot enough to blow a furnace.  The use of the rose adds sensuous, sweet eroticism to the story.


“The Briar Rose”

A king and his fairy queen wife suffer the consequences of their love at the baptismal of their only child, Princess Aurora.  The princess is cursed to die on her 17th birthday by the queen’s distant evil fairy aunt.   Aurora is protected from the truth and pledges her heart to Prince Philippe whose kingdom becomes immersed in a long war.  Sadly, neither Aurora nor her prince can escape their fate. 

Sometimes we pay the price for the choices of others, deserved or not.   Outside forces intrude into our lives, smothering happiness for a season.  Although this story follows the elements of Sleeping Beauty, it carries the shadow of war and loss.  It’s important to hold on to love and its promise throughout the years and use this to bolster perseverance and hope.


“Eleanor of the Roses”

A wealthy noble suffers the loss of his young wife.  He is left to raise his only child, Eleanor, alone.  Years later, he marries a prosperous widow with two daughters.  The widow grows hateful towards her husband because she is resentful of his deceased wife and love for Eleanor.  After he dies, the stepmother and her daughters start abusing Eleanor/Ella.  Eleanor endures and vows to never marry.  She does not want to become like her stepmother.  By chance she meets Prince Raphael.  Everything comes full circle when Eleanor is forced to go to the ball where the prince will choose his bride from the eligible noblewomen. 

“Eleanor of the Roses” demonstrates the power of love, memories and forgiveness.   Eleanor is rewarded for her loss and strength, despite the fact that her stepmother tried to diminish her in name and existence.  Prince Raphael is as romantic as he is amorous, and the love scenes are some of the hottest in the anthology.


“The Woodsman’s Daughter”

Manon’s mother vanishes into the woods.  She is raised by her devoted father who wants her to marry a rich man.  When her future groom, Angelus, appears, Manon is attracted to but unnerved by him.  He ignites her passion once she accepts his proposal, and invites her to visit him.  Manon accepts and learns what happened to her mother as well as the truth about her future husband.

“The Woodsman’s Daughter” was the darkest and edgiest.  It was a mix of Red Riding Hood and The Robber Bridegroom.  For each story, the heroine is strong and assertive, yet Manon surpasses them all.  She is not easily deceived and takes the initiative.  Still, Angelus is wolfishly sexy, totally masculine and heats up the pages.  Surprisingly, it’s Manon that carries everyone over the threshold to HEA.


First Night: Four Fairy Tales Retold offers a delicious perspective to fairy tales never intended for children.  Ms. Aubrey serves up a lusty helping of courageous women and fascinating men who understand intimacy, love and loyalty.  It was a nice opportunity to revisit stories sparkling with Ms. Aubrey’s fresh characters and steamy visuals. 



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