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5. Standing Fairy Tales on their Head.

Jean-Thomas Cullen has shaped a simple, basic love story into a powerful, elegant tale with promised staying power. The author has courageously stood traditional fairy tales on their head with the book's opening sentence: "They lived happily ever after."

Confident of his story telling and suspense dynamics, he starts at the end and promises to deliver a rousing tale that will take us the entire, suspenseful, rewarding road to that ending.

With this opening, he signals that he has listened to RWA and many female novel readers, and is about to deliver what may honestly be called 'an atomic love story'—so powerful and elemental is the tale he tells. Readers want to be assured they will have a love story with a happy ending, rather than a tragedy that will make them feel bad.

Consider the rest of the opening paragraph:

But the real story is how Richard and Marian got there, by those jolts and twists of life, and that includes a bit of a suspenseful mystery story. Their fate was written in the stars, to mangle Shakespeare a tad. Here is their romantic, sentimental tale in all its glories and surprises, including some sad moments with tears shed, some wistful glances exchanged, some laughs here or there, and a quantum of misunderstandings soon enough corrected. In a world where so much goes wrong—Rick and Marian were meant to be. That’s the wonder of it. But the story is what we want to really know, so here it is.

The author continues, warming to his story in a strong, fabular voice finely tuned to the modern, secular age: "There was, not long ago, a tired traveler—a handsome, sharp-eyed man in his early 30s, wearing a finely-tailored business suit and driving a nice gray imported car. He made millions of dollars wheeling and dealing in New York City…" and so it goes, drawing us in with descriptions of his large, exclusive home, surrounded by 'hot-and-cold-running, beautiful women' that leave him bored. His ex-wife is one of them, leaving a bad taste. Being wealthy and handsome, he casually dates any number of such women. A few may be business contacts or Platonic friends, but he finds many to be, simply, attractive 'elevator music.'

Richard Moyer is clearly looking for something very different, especially after a bitter and ugly divorce. He is about to find this special redemption in the small, forest-hidden town of Emery, Connecticut with its lake, its valley, its mists, and its mysteries.