Series Name: Once Upon a Broken Heart, # 2

Review By Veronica

The Ballad of Never After is full of magic and excitement.

Favourite Quote:

“I will not let you die.” A single bead of water dripped from Jack’s lashes onto her lips. It was raindrops soft, but the look in his eyes held the force of a storm. 

It should have been too dark to see his expression, but the crescent moon burned brighter with each second, lining the edges of Jack’s cheekbones as he looked at her with too much intensity. 

The crashing ocean felt suddenly quiet in contrast to her pounding heart, or maybe it was his heart.  

Goodreads Synopsis: 

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…

Gosh, this book took me on a wild and magical ride. Stephanie continues to wow me with her writing and her ability to keep her stories fresh and unique. This is the second book in the Once Upon a Broken Heart series, and it did not disappoint. In this book, the world that Stephanie has created continues to expand in a cohesive and very interesting way. She has created this lush and vivid world where magic is this living thing that is integrated into every aspect of this world. There is a lot of mystery thrown into this book. I constantly tried to guess who the real villain was and what would happen next. This book ends on a real heart-pounding cliffhanger that will have you saying, “Oh my God.” The pacing of this book is slightly faster. It starts with Evangeline trying to find a cure for her husband Apollo, who has been poisoned and is now in a coma. She learned at the end of the previous book that Jacks was the one who poisoned Apollo to force her to help collect these magical stones and to open the Valor Arch. Things become even more complicated when Apollo suddenly wakes up and is cursed with this urge to hunt down and kill Evangeline. Evangeline works with Jacks to stay alive and collect these magical stones. The problem is that the more time Evangeline spends with Jacks, the more she realizes that Jacks just might be her one true love. 

This book is bursting with detail, which makes it so easy to get lost (in a good way) in the story that Stephanie has created. The world really does disappear around you when you read this book. That theme of nothing is what it seems and not knowing who you can trust continues throughout this story. Everything and everyone in this book has so many layers. Just when you think you have something figured out, Stephanie throws in a twist or peels back another layer, completely changing the direction of the story. We get to spend more time with some of my favourite secondary characters, such as LaLa and Castor. And as we spend more time with them, you find yourself trying to figure out if they are truly a friend or if they are a foe. These characters are very mysterious and fickle, which makes them such fun characters to be with because you don’t know what to expect. 

I adore the relationship between Evangeline and Jacks. Every moment when these two were together was delightful and addictive. Evangeline’s character goes through a lot in this book. She truly doesn’t know who she can trust. Things are changing so rapidly that she often feels like she is barely holding on. But the one thing she does know is that she has to try to cure Apollo, not because she loves him but because she feels responsible for him being cursed in the first place. She also struggles with her growing feelings for Jacks, because she can’t quite figure him out. Jacks continues to steal my heart. You will love his character if you love your male MCs to be morally gray and a villain. Jacks continues to be this unsolvable mystery for most of this book. We don’t know what his endgame is. But throughout the story, you get these glimpses of this man falling hard for a woman he knows he can’t or shouldn’t have. This is a YA book, so remember that the romance is PG. The most that happens is kissing, but Stephanie still is able to create that intensity between Evangeline and Jacks that will get your heart racing. 

The Ballad of Never After is another addictive and captivating story from the brilliant mind of Stephanie Garber.