Once Upon a Time, written by Irene B. Brand, Lynn A. Coleman, Yvonne Lehman and Gail Gaymer Martin, and published by Barbour Publishing, Incorporated (2000) is a collection of four modern-day romance stories with all the enchantment of fairy tales. I love fairy tales and I really enjoyed finding the similarities between these stories and the ones written long ago. Each of the retellings has a thread running through it of Christ being the Lord of romance.

The first story, A Rose for Beauty, is similar to Beauty and the Beast. Annabelle Bartlett, who is also known as Beauty, used to live in a mansion with her family. Her mother died, her father had some financial setbacks and so the family had to leave their home. Currently, Grant Palmer, a single, wealthy man owns Beauty’s old home. He has offered to hire Beauty to work for him, cataloging a maritime collection he bought from her father to help them out. She has heard that part of his face is disfigured due to an accident. At first, she is cautious; she is concerned that it will be difficult for her to stay in the home she loved and grew up in. She also knows little about Grant.

As the weeks pass and she gets to know him, they are drawn into a friendship and eventually, fall in love. At this time, they are both drawing closer to the Lord and begin to trust Him for a possible future together. There are some obstacles, but like the fairy tale, all ends happily.

The next story, The Shoemaker’s Daughter, resembles the old story of The Elves and the Shoemaker. It is endearing; you can’t help falling in love with Marissa Jones, the lead character. Her parents have recently sold their shoe repair business to a young man named Cameron Flynn.

One day, Marissa, who is going surfing, decides to park in the lot of their former family business. The lot is close to the beach, very convenient, and no one is in it. Cameron sees her, doesn’t know who she is and yells to get her attention. He doesn’t want her to take up spaces for his potential clients. Holding her surf board, she turns around to see who is calling and accidentally hits him in the nose and breaks it! He crumples to the ground, unconscious.

At the hospital Marissa tries to apologize to him, but Cameron is quite agitated and doesn’t want to hear her apology. She leaves. When she explains the whole story to her parents, they are sad.  Her father plants the idea in her mind of her helping Cameron with the business, since she knows how to repair shoes.

Both Marissa and Cameron know the Lord, and begin to pray that the rocky beginning to this interesting, new found friendship might be made right. The plot twists in a fun way and you see the similarities to the Elves and the Shoemaker story. It ends happily ever after.

The next story, Lily’s Plight is a modern-day Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Lily getting a job working with seven, different, interesting men. In the end, the Lord leads her to her prince charming.

The last story, Better to See You, is an updated version of Little Red Riding Hood. Filled with clever similarities to the old story. This one takes place in the beautiful land of Germany.

I found each story in Once Upon a Time to be enchanting and endearing, since I have always loved those fairy tales. These stories have many interesting twists and turns to their plots, and I know you will enjoy them as well. I also saw how the characters grew in their faith, and recognized that only with Jesus as the center are our lives on the road to happily ever after.

The best audience for these stories would be women, ages 18 and above. College women might find them just the thing for study breaks and working women might bless their lunch times reading these stories.

(Note: if you wish to order this book from Amazon.com, you should enter an author’s name with the title to narrow your search.)

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”