6:27 PM

hae Happily Ever After (TS Companion) by Kiera Cass | Rating: ★★★★★

For the first time maybe ever, it didn't matter if I looked beautiful or not. I felt it.

It’s funny to think that, all those years ago when first novel to the series, The Selection was announced I had no idea I would end up so consumed by this series. Truthfully I had no idea I would even like it slightly based on how it was marketed as a mix between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor. I mean… come on.

I was intrigued, though, and that alone sparked just enough curiosity in me to pick up that first book.

I’ve been hooked ever since. And years later, fans like me have been treated to an expansion of the series and now a brand spanking new (and absolutely stunning) hardcover companion novel. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling positively spoiled!

Kiera Cass has an incredible talent and a colorful way of expressing her characters emotions. In writing so simple, she conveys complexities of emotions and the turmoil of love that is trying and unexpected. It’s easy to get invested in the lives of her characters and their world of intrigue, glamour, royalty and danger.

The Selection is the sort of fluffy story you read in one sitting and think about it for days and days afterwards because it hooks you in ways you can’t imagine. It feels good to read it. So I was more than thrilled to get inside the head of a variety of characters outside of America (and Eadlyn) and hopped on the chance to do so.

Which leads us to our latest release: a companion full of bright and vivid novellas from characters we’d otherwise not had the chance to have narrate. In other words, it’s a blast.

In Happily Ever After, readers are treated to several of these novellas that take place before, during and after the series. We’ve got a bunch to read into, familiar pieces and new ones, and are also able to see some delicious artwork featured within each story. And did I mention a little snippet of what the girls were up to post-Selection?

Oh yes, that includes Maxon and America after their wedding.

Kiera works her magic in each story, and while I loved every single one of them, there were some standouts for me. I don’t want to spoil my readers who haven’t had the chance to score this gem, but my personal favorites were from the point of view of Queen Amberly (before she was queen, of course), Marlee, and Celeste.

I think that in merging these views, and in Amberly’s case through generations, it was a really smart and delightful move. Amberly in particular was fun to read because she is sweet as can be, a real gentle soul, who is determined to do good. We see a glimpse, though, of what was ultimately the seed of doom for her relationship with the king.

We all know Clarkson is/was an abusive pile of scum, and we can see that forming in Amberly’s story, but I think in the shadows of this story we understand the hows and the whys when it came down to his controlling nature. Which is good and startling and I really liked seeing the contrast there between his selection and Maxon’s and of course the family dynamics.

Amberly has always been likable and warm and seeing her in her younger years was a blast. I’m still very sad about the loss of her in The One. But having her voice in her own short story as well as a glimpse of her in Maxon’s narration was like greeting an old friend and I totally dig it.

Onto Marlee and Celeste.

Marlee has always been a favorite of mine so seeing her point of view from that part of The Elite was interesting and very heartbreaking. She’s a genuine, warm and loving soul and it was fun seeing her fall in love despite herself. What strikes me as beautiful about Marlee is her strength, her forgiveness and her ability to love.

It was no fun reading that scene again, especially from another point of view, but it was so necessary to showcase that level of strength she and her love have for one another. There was this beautiful sense of calm and caring to both of them in spite of their pain and humiliation and the fact that they were so protective over one another and selfless is beautiful.

I mean, talk about an excellent endgame–right?

And now, everyone’s favorite bad girl with a surprising heart of gold and the ability to change. See, I started the series absolutely despising Celeste’s attitude like most readers.

But by the time The One came out, I saw the changes and the insecurity and eventually the warmth radiate from her. Seeing Celeste open up was a treat and seeing that expanded in this gem, I feel all the more pleased and upset with her endgame. I liked her redemption arc, I liked that Kiera painted something vivid and real in Celeste that may not have made her endearing to everyone but definitely made her real.

I think we all came to understand her actions more and although some weren’t all that forgivable, she made an extremely fortunate amount of changes to herself.

In her story, its bittersweet–we see her from the start of The Selection; beautiful, determined and her claws more than ready, to the transformation she makes by The One. Celeste is highly flawed and by the time she makes peace with a lot of things and makes an effort to grow, and connects with America in a way that will make hearts warm, it’s too late.

And that really, really sucks. Honestly, her death will always hurt some part of my soul. But in her story, in her thoughts leading up to her last moments, I can’t help but to feel happy that at least she found some peace and made the effort to change even if she didn’t get the chance to do more on her own.

That being said, there are many stories to explore within Happily Ever After and will leaves fans feeling more fulfilled than ever. It’s a real treat, perfect for any fan this holiday season, and is absolutely amongst my favorites of the year. If you loved the original run of the series, you’ll find yourself intrigued by these expansions and won’t regret picking up a copy immediately.

Right now. Immediately. I’m just going to throw my wallet at Kiera in advance from now on, I think. Especially after the surprise preview of her new and upcoming, non-TS series, book The Siren–who else is pumped for that?!

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