Series Review: Once Upon the East End by Felicia Grossman

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Marry Me by Midnight (from Goodreads):

Every love story begins with once upon a time .

London, 1832 : Isabelle Lira may be in distress, but she’s no damsel. Since her father’s death, his former partners have sought to oust her from their joint equity business. Her only choice is to marry—and fast —to a powerful ally outside the respected Berab family’s sphere of influence. Only finding the right spouse will require casting a wide net. So she’ll host a series of festivals, to which every eligible Jewish man is invited.

Once, Aaron Ellenberg longed to have a family of his own. But as the synagogue custodian, he is too poor for wishes and not foolish enough for dreams. Until the bold, beautiful Isabelle Lira presents him with an irresistible offer . . . if he ensures her favored suitors have no hidden loyalties to the Berabs, she will provide him with money for a new life.

Yet the transaction provides surprising temptation, as Aaron and Isabelle find caring and passion in the last person they each expected. Only a future for them is impossible—for heiresses don’t marry orphans, and love only conquers in children’s tales. But if Isabelle can find the courage to trust her heart, she’ll discover anything is possible, if only she says yes.


Author: Felicia Grossman
Series: Once Upon the East End
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Jewish
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2023 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback (#1); Netgalley–eARC (#2)

Note: Copy only provided for #2 Wake Me Most Wickedly


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually picked up Wake Me Most Wickedly (#2) as a Read Now title on Netgalley around Valentine’s Day when Forever Publishing opened certain titles up as a treat to readers. I didn’t realize it was a sequel when I grabbed it. I actually liked the idea of it being a fairy tale retelling with a Jewish spin. Luckily, my library had the first book in the series so I could catchup and get acquainted with the world.

The Concept / The World:

I loved that this was set in a Jewish community. It’s not something you see in a historical romance. Usually, you get a community of “rebellious” girls or a family keeping with societal norms, not one that focuses more on the ethnic and/or religious community. So I enjoyed how the Jewish community was woven into every aspect of this story in an organic way.
At the same time, as someone who isn’t Jewish, I got a little lost with words and terms that were used and not defined. That’s when I appreciated reading on my eReader.

The Plot:

One thing I really liked with these fairy tale retellings is the gender role reversals. I was fun to see things in a different way than they usually are presented by having the man be the “damsel in distress”.
And while these are billed as retellings, there is more to the plot than just regurgitating the standard fairy tale. I’d say that the allusions are there and are obvious but it isn’t the only thing motivating the plot or the characters.

The Characters:

One thing I really liked about binging this series back to back was watching the community of characters we meet expand and evolve. It was great to immerse myself in this cast of characters as they navigate their lives and businesses. I loved the idea of family values and community and how it added to overall story.

The Romance:

All our couples have incredible chemistry between them from the start. I only wish we saw more of it and shied away from the business side of the plot. More stolen kisses please!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Series Rating: 3/5

Marry Me by Midnight 3/5 | Wake Me Most Wickedly 3/5 | Seduce Me in Secret TBR | Dream of Me Until Dawn TBR


I enjoyed this fresh historical romance series for the integration of Jewish culture within a fairy tale retelling.

Read if You Like: historical romance, want more diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike longer romance novels


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