Not-So-Perfect Princess

By: Melissa McClone

When ordinary girls get their fairy-tale endings!

Who says fairy tales can’t come true?

Once Upon a Kiss… is our brand-new miniseries

featuring up-to-the-minute retellings of classic,

well-loved stories. Immerse yourself in a little bit

of fantasy for the modern-day girl, and be whisked

away, along with our down-to-earth heroines,

to the romances of your wildest daydreams!

This month’s Not-So-Perfect Princess

by Melissa McClone is a royal story with a twist!

We hope you enjoy

Sleeping Beauty—Harlequin Romance® style.

In September, look out for

Shirley Jump’s The Princess Test—a fun and

contemporary retelling of Princess and the Pea.

Carrie Santaro has never wanted to be royal—

all she craves is a normal life! Yet when she leaves

home and meets gorgeous single dad Daniel,

she begins to realize that being a real princess

means far more than simply wearing a tiara.

Dear Reader,

Once upon a time, I wrote a story that introduced a secondary character, Princess Julianna of Aliestle. I always thought she would be the perfect heroine to use in a Sleeping Beauty tale if the opportunity to write one ever presented itself.

In 2010, it finally did!

I was so excited to be asked to contribute to the Once Upon a Kiss… miniseries. I knew exactly what fairy tale I wanted to modernize and retell. When my editor told me I could do Sleeping Beauty, I actually squealed.

Of course, thinking about writing a contemporary fairy tale was easier than actually writing it. Not too many fairies and ogre queens around these days! I hope you’ll see how I used elements from the classic tale as a springboard into this modern romance.

Princess Julianna has been sleepwalking through life far too long. It will take a special man—make that prince—to wake her up and make her see all that she is missing out on. A happily ever after is waiting for her if she’ll just open her eyes and follow her heart!




“THREE ARRANGED marriages and not one has made it to the altar. That is unacceptable!” King Alaric of Aliestle’s voice thundered through the throne room like a lion’s roar. Even the castle’s tapestry-covered stone walls appeared to tremble. “If men think something is wrong with you, no amount of dowry will convince one to marry you.”

Princess Julianna Louise Marie Von Schneckle didn’t allow her father’s harsh words to affect her posture. She stood erect with her shoulders back and her chin up, maximizing her five-foot-eight-inch-stature. The way she’d been taught to do by a bevy of governesses and nannies. Her stepmother didn’t take a personal interest in her, but was diligent in ensuring she’d received the necessary training to be a perfect princess and queen.

“Father,” Jules said evenly, not about to display an ounce of emotion. Tears and histrionics would play into her country’s outdated gender stereotypes. They also wouldn’t sway her father. “I was willing to marry Prince Niko, but he discovered Princess Isabel was alive and legally his wife. He had no choice but to end our arrangement.”

Her father’s nostrils flared. “The reason your match ended doesn’t matter.”

Jules understood why he was upset. He wanted to marry her off to a crown prince in order to put one of his grandchildren on a throne outside of Aliestle. He was willing to pay a king’s ransom to make that happen. She’d become the wealthiest royal broodmare around. Unfortunately.

He glared down his patrician nose at her. “The result is the same. Three times now—”

“If I may, Father.” Indignation made Jules speak up. She rarely interrupted her father. Okay, never. She was a dutiful daughter, but she wasn’t going to take the blame for this. “You may have forgotten with all the other important matters on your mind, but you canceled my first match with Prince Christian. And Prince Richard was in love with an American when I arrived on San Montico.”

“These failed engagements are still an embarrassment.” Her father’s frown deepened the lines on his face. The wrinkles reminded Jules of the valley crags in the Alps surrounding their small country. “A stain on our family name and Aliestle.”

A lump of guilt lodged in her throat. Jules had been relieved when she found out Niko wouldn’t be able to annul his first marriage and marry her. From the start, she’d hoped he would fall in love with his long-lost wife so Jules wouldn’t have to get married.

Oh, she’d liked Vernonia with its loyal people and lovely lakes for sailing. The handsome crown prince wanted to modernize his country, not be held back by antiquated customs. She would have had more freedom than she’d ever imagined as his wife and future queen. But she didn’t love Niko.