In And They Lived Happily Ever After Gaia is a romance author who avoids social situations like the plague. They make her really nervous in ways that she has never been able to explain. She clings to her best friend, Seth, and feels like he is the only person she can trust due to her history in the foster care system. Except she doesn’t fully trust him and is annoyed that he keeps trying to push her into social situations. This us why she finds herself upstairs while at his house party and encountering a towel clad definitely grown up version of Seth’s younger brother Jacob. It is a scene out of a romance novel and Gaia uses it for her next story. Only this time there unexpected complications.
Once Gaia writes a scene in her stories, she dreams about it while ahe sleeps. This has happened to her for years without explanation. Yet this time when she dreams, she is in the role of the main female character while Jacob is in the role of the romantic interest. And she is sharing the dream with her! As this has never happened before, it scares the hell out of her, and causes her to completely shut down. And They Lived Happily Ever After has excellent representation recognizes this change in Gaia, who continually tries to push him away that he will hurt her and leave. Yet, he stays and tries to keep her navigate her experience.
Jacob is also working through his own mental health concerns. He had dedicated most of his recent life to the family business trying to repair it and keep the peace between his brother and his father. It isn’t until he starts focusing on Gaia that he realizes exactly what he has been missing out on. He’s tired of never feeling good enough and this forces him to analyze exactly what is going on with him. As a reader I really enjoyed the mental health aspect of this story. I thought it was well thought out and a captivating way to tell this story.
There is some magic that serves as a backdrop for Gaia’s writing. Honestly, I was a little confused by it. I understand this was how Gaia worked through her emotions as well as put her ideas to the paper. For me, I didn’t fully hit the way I think it was supposed to. Whenever these moments came up in chapters, I just wanted to get though it and move on to the rest of the story. Especially when she used it as a way to get back at Jacob or understand what was actually happening between them. I couldn’t help but feel like that was a tad overdone.
Even with this detail, I did enjoy the dynamic between Gaia and Jacob. They were sweet together and really brought the best out in each other even when they were fighting. Jacob refused to give up on Gaia even when she is at her lowest. He also forced the others around her to face reality as to what was actually going on. This is a very in your face story regarding mental health and one that I think it needed within the book world. Anxiety is a very real mental health concern which is often avoided when it should be addressed.
Overall, I enjoyed And They Lived Happily Ever After because it was a sweet read and relatively easy to follow. I rooted for Gaia and Jacob and wanted them a figure their stuff out and be happy together. Of course sometimes, people are their own worst enemy. There was also a secondary story (besides the magic) that I also felt was not needed or at least could have been presented better. Apparently there is another book that will follow this one but at this time I think I may pass. Who knows when it gets closer though! I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys sweet contemporary romance with a touch of magic.
Rating: 3 Stars
**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**