GS vs STA: Fairy-Tale Romance Retellings

Billie Bloebaum wrote in with a rather interesting question: 

Has there ever been a GS vs. STA for fairy tale-inspired romance? Because I'm totally going through a phase with it right now and was hoping for some recommendations of things inspired by tales other than Cinderella or Beauty & the Beast. I can find a ton of stuff in YA and Fantasy and even Lit Fic (and if you haven't read 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey you should do so nownownow) ( A | BN | K | S ), but Romance seems to be stuck on those two stories, with the occasional foray into Princess & the Pea territory. There have to be Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel stories out there in the great wide world of Romance, so why am I not finding them? Some help, please? What am I missing? And, if anyone can direct me to an 'Alice in Wonderland'-inspired Romance, I might just expire from joy.

Some of my favorite romances are fairy-tale retellings, but they are Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella-based. Teresa Medeiros' Charming the Prince (A | BN | K | S) and The Bride and the Beast (A | BN | K | S) come to mind immediately, as does Julia Quinn's book for Benedict Bridgerton, An Offer from a Gentleman ( A | BN | K | S ). Eloisa James did the Princess and the Pea recently with The Duke is Mine ( A | BN | K | S ) but I am struggling to think of another Pea romance. (Also, am I the only one who reads “The Duke is Mine” and immediately hears Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson singing, “The Doggone Duke is Mine?” Yes? I'm alone in that? Oh, well.)

What fairy-tale-inspired romances are your favorites? Any Rapunzel retellings? Alice in Wonderland? Hansel and Gretel? Which do you recommend – or recommend readers avoid?

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  1. 1

    You could try these YA titles…

    Once : includes Before midnight, Golden, Wild orchid / Cameron Dokey.

    Author Dokey, Cameron.
    Publisher New York : Simon Pulse, 2012, c2006-2009.
    Description 606 p. ; 21 cm.
    Call # FIC DOKEY
    Series Once upon a time
    Dokey, Cameron. Once upon a time.
    Note First work originally published: 2007. 2nd work originally published: c2006. 3rd work originally published: 2009.
    Summary In “Before Midnight,” Cendrillon tests her father’s will by leaving the grounds for a royal ball; in “Golden,” Rapunzel, born bald, must break an enchantment to free her heart; and in “Wild Orchid,” Mulan joins the army disguised as a boy.
    Contents Before midnight—Golden—Wild orchid.
    Subject Fantasy.
    Fairy tales.
    Addl. Author Dokey, Cameron. Before midnight.
    Dokey, Cameron. Golden.
    Dokey, Cameron. Wild orchid.
    ISBN 1442422831 (pbk.) :
    9781442422834 (pbk.) :

  2. 2


    The night dance / Suzanne Weyn.

    Author Weyn, Suzanne.
    Publisher New York : Simon Pulse, 2005.
    Description 193 p. ; 18 cm.
    Call # FIC WEYN
    Summary A knight falls in love with the youngest of twelve sisters, but they can only marry if he can discover where the sisters secretly go to dance. Inspired by the fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses.
    Subject Man-woman relationships—Fiction.

  3. 3
    Jennifer says:

    Lila DiPasqua has written several erotic romances are adaptations of fairy tales.  Puss in Boots, Red Riding Hood, and The Emperor’s New Clothes are just a few examples.

  4. 4
    Christine says:

    I’m actually reading a Rapunzel book now Golden Threads by Kay Hooper its an old Loveswept but there’s a whole series of them she also did Alice in Wonderland (Through the Looking Glass) and Sleeping Beauty (What Dreams May Come).

    Teresa Medeiros also did both Snow White (Fairest of Them All ) and Sleeping Beauty (A Kiss to Remember ).

    Also Once Upon A Dream by Katherine Kingsley which is Cinderella

  5. 5
    Laurel says:

    THE SEVENFOLD SPELL by Tia Nevitt was a stellar retelling of SLEEPING BEAUTY:…

    The MC is NOT the Sleeping Beauty, but rather an ancillary character who is caught up in the kingdom’s anti-spinning wheel policies. Her life is utterly derailed and ultimately entwined with the doomed princess. It was clever, great protag, violated some traditions while upholding others, and altogether satisfying.

    THE STEPSISTER SCHEME by Jim C. Hines was also a rollicking read with a new take on the triumvirate: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. It weaves the three together and throws a new twist (well, a few) in the mix. Less of a straight up romance, though.…

    Good luck!

  6. 6
    Bibliophile says:

    Not a romance per se, but it does have a love story at its center: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. It’s a re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, complete with Baba Yaga and magical time travel. (Pity the author is such a jerk, but if you can ignore that, the books is a good read).

  7. 7
    Lia says:

    Harlequin Nocturne Series did an adaptation of several fairytales with their Royal House of Shadows-series). I haven’t read them all (yet), but would definitely recommend Lord of the Vampires (Gena Showalter) and Lord of Rage (Jill Monroe).

  8. 8

    Sur la Lune has a list of fairy tale romances and although there are a lot of entries for Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, there are also some for The Frog King, or Iron Henry; Goldilocks and the Three Bears; Hansel and Gretel; Jack and the Beanstalk; Little Mermaid; Little Red Riding Hood; Nightingale; Princess and the Pea; Puss in Boots; Rapunzel; Rumpelstiltskin; Six Swans; Sleeping Beauty; Snow White and Rose Red; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Three Little Pigs; Ugly Duckling.

    All About Romance also have a list of fairy tale romances and it’s probably been updated a little more recently although it seems shorter than Sur La Lune’s. The very first entry is one romance, listed under “Alice in Wonderland.”

    You might like Mercedes Lackey’s novels for LUNA, which are all about the Five Hundred Kingdoms. The first is The Fairy Godmother in which “Cinderella meets Russian folk tales with a fairy godmother, and three princes thrown in for good measure.” The third in the series, Fortune’s Fool, “is a combination of the Little Mermaid and East of the Moon, West of the Sun. It features lots of great Russian fairy tales, and some old friends including the Little Humpback Horse.”

    I’ve blogged about my colleague Sandra Schwab’s Bewitched because I felt there were bits that seemed inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

  9. 9
    Jan Oda says:

    Ember by Bettie Sharpe is an absolutely amazing retelling of Cinderella. It’s my favorite fairy-tale inspired story ever, and Cinderella was never one of my favorite stories. I love, love, love this. Also, it’s available for free on the authors website. The author has also written other retellings, but I haven’t read those.

  10. 10
    Shawnyj says:

    I second the recommendation for Enchantment, very good. Also – Beauty or Rose Daughter (both retellings of Beauty and the Beast), and Deerskin (a retelling of Donkeyskin) by Robin McKinley. They’re romantic non-romances, but some of my all time favourites. My very favourite is Daughter of the Forest, by Juliette Marillier, which is a retelling of the Six Swans. Red and Sorcha are my favourite novel couple ever.

  11. 11
    Sycorax says:

    I’m seconding all of Shawnyj’s recommendations! I love Robin McKinley, and ‘Daughter of the Forest’ is one of my favourites.

    I believe Elizabeth Hoyt’s ‘To Beguile a Beast’ is based loosely on ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but I think that’s all I can offer in terms of the romance genre.

    Other YA personal favourites
    ‘East’ by Edith Pattou, an adaptation of Éast of the Sun and West of the Moon’. 
    ‘Ash’ by Malinda Lo – a Cinderella retelling with a lesbian romance.
    ‘Tam Lin’ by Pamela Dean – mild romance, but crazy fun account of being young and at college. With fairies.

    I also have to mention Margo Lanagan’s ‘Sea Hearts’, or ‘The Brides of Rollrock Island’, even though it’s most decidedly not a romance. It’s based on the selkie folktale, the one where men take the seal skins of selkies and keep them as wives, and it’s amazing.

    I’m holding out for when someone writes a retelling of ‘Prince Lindworm’. Mind you, it would probably end up being BDSM erotica. ;)
    Read the original here -

  12. 12
    Cheryl Mcinnis says:

    Cheyenne McCray did a series based on Alice in Wonderland, first book is about Alice. I believe she recently updated and reissued them under her pen name…Jaymie Holland. Warning though, these were originally published by Ellora’s Cave and are pretty, um, spicy ;)

  13. 13
    Clbevill says:

    Someone already mentioned Juliette Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, but she also did a Beauty and the Beast redux in ye old England, Heart’s Blood, which is great.

  14. 14
    MamaKitty says:

    Elise Hepner has been writing some erotic romance based on fairy tales… Her Rapunzel one is called Roped Emotions and her Snow White one is called Not So Pure. I’ll have to think on it some more to see of I remember any more but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

  15. 15
    InezKelley says:

    Bettie Sharpe’s version of Puss in Boots via Carina Press was a finalist in DABWAHA. It’s titled CAT’S TALE and is lovely.

  16. 16
    Sarah L says:

    Shiloh Walker’s Grimm’s Circle series is erotic paranormal romance based loosely on fairy tales (the first one is Hansel and Gretel, although she does have the obligatory Cinderella for the second one)

    Seconding the recommendation for Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series; its one of my favorite “fluffy” series, and I really enjoy the magical system she came up with for it.

  17. 17

    Ella Drake wrote two fairy-tale inspired sci-fi romances. Both feature biopunk/dystopian elements.

    Jaq’s Harp (Carina Press): a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk
    Braided Silk (Liquid Silver): a retelling of Rapunzel

    If you would like more information, I wrote a spotlight for the stories at Heroes and Heartbreakers back in December: http://www.heroesandheartbreak…

  18. 18
    cleo says:

    Kim Dare’s novella Duck is a bdsm shapeshifter m/m retelling of the ugly duckling that I really liked.  Bettie Sharpe has a Little Mermaid retelling in the Agony and Ecstasy anthology. 

    Actually, I can think of a few romances that read like ugly ducking retellings, although I don’t know if they were intended to be – Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie and The Charm School by Susan Wiggs.

    And Jennifer Crusie is working on a fairy tale retelling collaboration (she’s writing Goldilocks and Lani Diane Rich is writing Rapunzel and I think Anne Stuart is writing Cinderella) – here’s a blog post about it.…

  19. 19
    rooruu says:

    Eloisa James has done about three fairytale retellings among her recent books, I think.

    I didn’t much like Ember by Bettie Sharpe. Deleted it from the Kindle.

    Robin McKinley’s first take on Beauty & the Beast, ‘Beauty’ is the better of the two, IMHO.

    The Cameron Dokey retellings are primary/junior high school level at most.  There are a few authors who have contributed titles to that series; it’s called Once Upon a Time, from memory.

    Elizabeth Hoyt has a series of several books including ‘The Raven Prince’ which have fairytale-ish bits woven in.


  20. 20
    Jenny Dolton says:

    Some of these have already been mentioned, but deserve a seconding!

    Robin McKinley’s fairytale retellings are, in my opinion, the absolute best. =) She has done several versions of Beauty and the Beast (Beauty, Rose Daughter, Chalice, and even (it’s a bit of a stretch) Sunshine) that are all lovely and different and definitely worth a read. Her Sleeping Beauty retelling (Spindle’s End) might be my favorite though. Deerskin, a retelling of Donkeyskin, is good, but a little traumatic if you are on the sensitive side.

    Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest (retelling of the Six Swans) is fantastic, though also on the traumatic side. Her novel Wildwood Dancing draws on a several less common fairy tales.

    If you like the Tam Lin story, Pamela Dean’s version (simply entitled Tam Lin) is excellent! Patricia McKillip also retold that one—hers is Winter Rose.

  21. 21
    AuburnGirl says:

    Victoria Alexander wrote The Princess and the Pea , The Emperor’s New Clothes & Believe. Both Princess & Believe have been reissued fairly recently.

  22. 22
    Sabbyc72 says:

    I went through a huge fairy tale re-telling fetish last year and I am still going through it but just less avidly!

    The Eloisa James – When Beauty tamed the ebast is excellent but there are loads of really good Beauty and Beast re-tellings (don’t know why I favour those above all others)!.

    There is a really nice fairy-tale anthology called Fairy tale Lust by Kristina Wright but it is all erotica. Very quick reads.

    There are nice YA books by Jessica Day George – re-telling of 12 dancing princesses, Cinderella and has Little Red Riding Hood coming out soon. Really sweet but very tame set in historical pretend Germany.

    Also try, Demon Lover by Bonnie Dee. It’s great, if not too short. It is an erotica version of Rapunzel. It really is lovely though! Anything by Bonnie Dee is generally a revelation to me, they are all excellent.

  23. 23
    Sabbyc72 says:

    Sorry not Rapunzel – Rumplestiltzkin!

  24. 24
    Mel M says:

    I’m rather fond of Kristine Grayson’s The Fates series. More of a focus on what happens after the “Happily Ever After” than retellings. Bluebeard’s story is coming out soon and she should have an interesting twist to turn him into the hero.

  25. 25
    Hannah E. says:

    I was actually going to suggest this also.  It’s great book with strong romantic elements. 

  26. 26
    KayS says:

    My “One Year Past Perfect” is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears story.

  27. 27
    Barb in Maryland says:

    I’m very fond of Mercedes Lackey’s other fairy tale series—Elemental Masters.  They have a late Victorian through WWI time frame in an England that has magic.  The first is a Snow White story (Serpent’s Shadow), then Sleeping Beauty(Gates of Sleep) plus several other tales, including Puss in Boots (Reserved for the Cat). Definitely less ‘fluffy’ than her 500 Kingdoms series.
    Beyond saying ‘yes, yes, of course—Robin McKinley’, I can second Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing—it’s YA 12 Dancing Princesses plus a couple of others tucked in around the edges.  Very, very good.

  28. 28
    cleo says:

    ooh, these look good. 

  29. 29
    Katherinelynn_04 says:

    Another vote for ‘beauty’ by Robin McKinley! It is clean, but there is a lot of tension and it is beautifully written (she has won the newbury award at least once. I think for the blue sword, which is also an excellent series). She also wrote anither version, ‘Rose Daughter’, which was okay; and ‘Spindles End’ which is Rumplestiltskin if I recall correctly. 
    I just finished ‘Entwined’, which is a YA retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I enjoyed that one. 
    I know there were a few more I thought of before I started typing and now I can’t recall their names. Huh. I will have to come back and add more!

  30. 30
    Alex McLeod says:

    If you’re feeling particularly meta, Mercedes Lackey wrote the “Five Hundred Kingdoms” series, the first book being “The Fairy Godmother”.

    Long story short: Fantasy setting where the old fairy tales try to repeat. If you set up the circumstances correctly, the story will play itself out along the basic plot. There’s an entire group of folks who work hard at trying to steer these stories away from tragedy.

    The first one is a romance between a trainee fairy godmother (who comes from a Cinderella story where, unfortunately, the Prince was ten years old, thereby messing up the completion of the story for another eight or ten years), and the second of a king’s three sons (and believe me, the success rate of non-youngest sons in Fairy Tale land isn’t good at all).

    There’s been…two? Three more books. Each in a different piece of the setting. It’s been a while since I’ve really, intentionally sought them out.

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