Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER
Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER
Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER
Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER
Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER

Once-Upon-Thyme Deluxe Hardcover Edition - PRE-ORDER

Prix régulier$65.00
Frais d'expédition calculés lors du passage à la caisse.


What happens when nothing goes according to plan in a fairytale?

Once-Upon-Thyme is a quirky fairytale retelling featuring a drunk fairy godmother, a princess seeking a dragon, and the meddling stablehand trying to stop her.

If you're a fan of quirky characters, found family, fun yet heart-warming stories, slow burn and clean romance, all with cozy vibes and, of course, a dragon, then you will love this fairytale retelling - at its heart, a story about finding your place in the world even when you don't fit the norm.

It's not easy being a princess, especially when your fairytale life refuses to follow the script.

Adrianna grapples with many problems. Her evil stepmother is too obsessed with her garden to remember being evil, her evil stepsister is adorable and dear to Adrianna’s heart, and if that wasn’t bad enough, her fairy godmother spends her days drinking, eating chocolate, and flirting with the gardener.

And just when Adrianna thinks her life couldn't get any more absurd, enter Prince Charming—who inexplicably proposes to her stepmother.

Adrianna decides that enough is enough—she's quitting the life of a princess altogether. Except that escaping a fairytale isn’t as easy as she thought, and to preserve her home and her family, she needs to somehow blunder her way to a Happy Ever After. Meaning a prince has to rescue her and propose marriage.

So, accompanied by her tipsy fairy godmother and a distractingly handsome (annoyingly so) stablehand, she sets her sights on a formidable task – finding a dragon, in the hopes this will convince a prince to perform the required rescue and marriage proposal.

Once-Upon-Thyme is a wonderfully twisted take on the classic fairytale formula, full of misfit characters, unexpected twists, and all about the importance of embracing life's beautiful imperfections.

After all, even the most imperfect stories can lead to the most satisfying endings.

This Deluxe Hardcover Edition is 6"x9", with a total of 280 pages, printed on 80gsm white paper. It will include the following: 

  • Designed sprayed edges
  • A beautifully designed dust jacket with silver foil on the title
  • Premium case laminate with custom design
  • Premium inside formatting with beautiful 2-page illustrated chapter headings throughout, each illustration representing the setting of the chapter. 
  • 22 Full-page colour illustrations
  • Digital signature from the author

This Deluxe edition isn't available anywhere other than the author's website. 

 Paperback Edition 280 pages
Product Dimensions 6 x 9 x 0.9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 x 2.3cm)
Language English

This is a pre-order. The Deluxe Hardcover Edition won't be available until September 2024, since for now early access is exclusively limited to those who backed the Kickstarter that launched this book.

The Deluxe Hardcovers will either be shipped from a warehouse in the US, or by me in France - whichever will give you the most affordable shipping.

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Our tale begins quite normally as so many tales do, in Once-Upon-Thyme, that tiny and unusual country. Just like most women’s handbags, it was bigger inside than it appeared to be from the outside. So, while on a map Once-Upon-Thyme was barely the size of a large city, cross its borders and you could lose yourself in an incredible vastness that was riddled with royals, fairies, witches, pretty milkmaids, and courageous shepherds.

Perhaps because its very existence defied logic, attempting to apply reason to Once-Upon-Thyme could only result in the kind of headache normally encountered when disentangling a knotted ball of yarn.

This was a place where shepherds were regularly crowned king, in spite of being utterly unqualified to rule, where medicine was actively discouraged from progressing, because queens were supposed to die in childbirth, and where curses were more prevalent than the common cold.

Our tale therefore begins here, in this odd little country, and specifically within the walls of one of its more lavish palaces. Traditions being incredibly important in Once-Upon-Thyme, certain phrases must always be used when beginning a new story. And it goes something like this.

In Once-Upon-Thyme, there was a prince who had an ardent wish. You could be forgiven for thinking that there was nothing unusual in this—princes are, after all, forever wishing ardently for things—but you’d be mistaken. This is no ordinary tale of princely wishing....


In one of the largest palaces of Once-Upon-Thyme, Prince Charming (for that was, in fact, his name) was in the middle of an embittered battle. Struggling for air amongst the crush of chiffon and tulle, knocking tiaras off heads and setting wigs askew, Prince Charming was attempting as valiantly as he could to find an exit from the hell in which he found himself. Everywhere he turned, another princess, another set of batting eyelashes, another flirtatious smile. Hands reached out for him from every corner, insidiously slipping lace handkerchiefs and favours up his sleeves or down his collar.

Charming ignored the handkerchief assault, for he had now almost reached his salvation: the doors that led out of the ballroom to the balcony that overlooked the garden. With a final and desperate shove of a rotund woman, he managed to expel himself through the double doors and into the cool night air.

The rotund person he had so manfully removed from his way had let out an indignant squawk and was now making such a fuss as to distract and confuse the gaggle of females. Not wanting to waste this opportunity, he hurried down the steps that led to the garden and hid behind a hedge trimmed to resemble a rabbit. He crouched in the darkness, panting, his clothing in disarray.

What Prince Charming desired above all else was to be left in peace. Unfortunately, he was well acquainted with the particular craze that took hold of women when in the presence of a prince—Prince Fever, as he dubbed it to himself—but that didn’t make him any less uncomfortable when confronted with the phenomenon. The affected women went into frenzies of flirting, laughing, mad twiddling of hair, and for some reason he had never been able to fathom, they all went to great lengths to bat him on the arm. The latter was most troublesome since Charming bruised like a peach.

Worse was the fact that the merest flirtatious look threw him into paroxysms of sweating (to say nothing of actual flirtatious comments), so that this latest assault on his person had left his clothing dangerously damp. From behind his rabbit hedge, Charming pulled out the plethora of clandestine handkerchiefs that had hitched a ride in his sleeves, letting them fall to the ground. He found his own handkerchief and dabbed at his moist face.

The cool night breeze helped dry him off, and he lifted his face to it, enjoying this brief moment of peace. The breeze brought him sounds of voices—women calling his name, playfully searching for him among the hydrangeas that lined the balcony. Charming crouched further down. After a while he started to hear impatient sighs and grumbles as it became obvious to the princesses that he wasn’t there.

For a moment he feared that they might push the search to the gardens, but the voices slowly drifted off, swallowed by the faint music that wafted out of the palace doors, until at last some thoughtful soul closed the doors, and the night was blessedly silent once more.

Charming sighed miserably, wondering how long he would be able to stay hidden in the garden this time before he incurred the Motherly Wrath.

A large part of being a prince meant entertaining a bevy of princesses in an endless procession of balls, some masked, some unmasked, with the expectation that he would eventually select one of said princesses to be his wife. His mother would not be swayed on that last point, and since she had decided that his father the King agreed with her in this, as he did in all things, Charming was left with no choice but to comply. But how he was supposed to select a wife from the squawking multitude when he couldn’t bear to speak to them, let alone spend time with them, was beyond him.

A cramp began to crawl up his leg, and he stood up to relieve it, stepping out from behind his hedge.

“Ah, there you are!”

Charming started at the interpellation and, turning, found a woman regarding him severely with her hands on her hips. She was wearing a ballgown, as they all did, but she was somewhat older than his usual pursuers. Quite a bit older in fact. She had grey eyes and a surprisingly hooked nose. That is to say that it protruded more than the button nosed norm he was so accustomed to seeing at every turn.

In fact, there was a distinct lack of prettiness to her features which was highly unusual. Princesses were always pretty, so much so that they all vaguely resembled each other, and Charming had the hardest time remembering who was who.

Charming steeled himself, stoically awaiting the usual assault of flirting, but to his surprise nothing came. The woman was still watching him expectantly. It occurred to him that maybe she was awaiting a reply to her previous statement.

“Yes, here I am,” he said.

The conversational requirements having apparently been met, the woman sprang to life like a toy whose mechanism had been wound up. She marched towards Charming who shrank back reflexively.

“I have been waiting and waiting for someone to show me the gardens. I have heard many good things about your gardener, mainly that he isn’t Cornish, and I’m very interested to see what he has done to your roses.”

While Charming had been bestowed with many qualities at birth, as all princes were, speed of deduction wasn’t one of them, and said speed decreased exponentially when in the vicinity of a member of the female sex. He stared at the woman nonplussed. What was she on about?

“Well, are you going to show me your roses?” she asked, proffering her elbow.

The mist of confusion that had hitherto filled Charming’s mind melted like snow on a furnace. She wanted a tour about the garden! Not only was this not flirting, it was a real and legitimate excuse to stay out of the ballroom. He could have kissed the woman, if propriety, nerves, and inclination had permitted.

Instead, he took her arm and replied, “I’d be delighted to.”

He led her away from the laughter and the music, towards the cool and silent gloom of the rose garden. Never had a sight been more welcome. That was until he realised that as a host escorting a (female) guest through the garden, he should really be offering some sort of commentary on the flowers. Worse, maybe he was expected to rhapsodise about the woman’s beauty in the dark, or some other such nonsense. Charming began to sweat once more. He knew next to nothing about flowers, and how was one supposed to comment on a woman’s beauty when it was too dark to see it? And in any case, she wasn't beautiful.

Thankfully, he didn’t have to sweat for long, as the woman began to monologue at him (or at the night—it was unclear who, if anyone, she was addressing) about the state of the roses. Charming did his best to listen and follow the Unusual Female’s chatter, but he kept tuning off and wandering off into his own thoughts. Every few minutes he would catch himself adrift in reverie, and he would return to the flow of words that poured from the woman’s mouth, much like a man who, despite his best efforts to stay awake, keeps finding himself asleep with his head hanging at an awkward angle.

After a time, it became apparent that no answer was required of him. Not only that, but the Unusual Female didn’t even seem to expect him to pay her any attention.

Charming smiled. What a delightful woman. He followed her through the rose garden, letting her drag him by the arm this way and that, while he ambled pleasantly amongst his thoughts. Just as he reached the conclusion that this was the most pleasant evening he had passed in memory, the Unusual Female anchored herself to a point on the ground, causing him to jerk to an abrupt stop as she still held his arm tightly, thus yanking him out of his reverie.

“Ah!” she exclaimed triumphantly, pointing at a rather haphazard cluster of roses among the bush. “There! There! Nature’s whimsy at its finest. I cannot wait to tell Lowen of this. Would you believe it, he wants all my roses to be symmetrical and evenly distributed, and he proposes to have them enchanted to achieve that end. Have you ever heard anything more preposterous in your life? An enchantment, on my flowers? A little nonsense is to be expected—he is Cornish after all—but that is just poppycock. Don’t worry my dear, I told him. I said, ‘Lowen, you are a gardener of great skill’. He isn’t you know, but I find the best way to deal with the Cornish is to first butter them up with a compliment. Mind you, Lowen is the only Cornishman I know, but he strikes me as particularly representative of his kind—I’m sure you agree. Then I told him, ‘It behoves the professional gardener to know when he is out of his depth. This, my dear Lowen,’ you’ll note how unfailingly polite I remained. ‘This my dear Lowen,’ I said, ‘is one of those instances. Under no circumstance, whatsoever, are we enchanting my roses!’”

This last exclamation was punctuated by the forceful jabbing of her index finger in the air. The gesture startled Charming into retreating as much of his neck between his shoulders as he could, like a frightened turtle. After a couple of blinks he realised that what had ignited the Unusual Female’s passions was either the roses or the gardener, or both, but thankfully not him. By the time he had reached this conclusion, the Unusual Female had departed from the topic of the symmetry of the roses, and she unanchored herself, dragging Charming forward by the arm once more.

“The Cornishman was a whim of my late husband’s you see,” she continued. “You’re wondering why I let him have his way when it is wreaking such havoc with my garden, to say nothing of my nerves. I have to admit, my late husband never interfered with my garden—never. The darling man knew his place was indoors, god rest his soul. So when he told me that his only wish was to have a Cornish gardener, well I couldn’t deny him. He loved their accent, you see. Can’t see why myself—it’s so full of ‘r’s, it’s a wonder they manage to squeeze in any other consonants. Anyway, I let him have this little whimsy. I thought it would be perfectly harmless. Well my dear, what a disaster, I cannot even begin to tell you. Putting up with Lowen’s botanical heresies has frayed my nerves to such an extent…”

Charming tuned out once more, missing the extensive report on the state of the Unusual Female’s nerves, and returning instead to that pleasant state of aloneness with his thoughts. They strolled on from one end of the garden to the other, and two hours passed with what seemed to Charming to be the speed of mere minutes. During this time, he had moved from just thinking this was the most pleasant evening he had ever spent to thinking this was the most amazing woman he had ever met. She brought out the best in him and put him in a state of contentment like no one had ever been able to. That is to say that she left him in peace and neither required him to listen nor respond. He had never felt so happy and at ease. So complete. So understood and appreciated.

Yes, by the time they reached the rhododendron maze, Charming realised that he was utterly, totally, and unequivocally in love.

Finally, he had found the woman for him.

The clock struck ten to midnight as it always did to allow princesses time to leave before their spells, curses, and other enchantments ran out. Charming turned to gaze adoringly at the newfound love of his life. As he did, the fog of adoration parted long enough for him to realise that the Unusual Female was dragging him back to the palace at brisk speed. No doubt heeding the call of midnight. His blunt powers of deduction told him he only had a few minutes before they were back at the ballroom, where he would once again be drowning in feminine charms and would therefore lose the opportunity to ascertain his love’s name along with his ability to speak or think.

For the first time in his life, Charming felt a wave of assertiveness wash over him. He acted. Decisively.

“I say, we haven’t even been introduced,” he said. “I—”

“Oh yes, quite right. Petunia, Queen of Viridi.”

Queen? Charming would have been startled into stopping if the Unusual—that is Petunia—wasn’t still dragging him forward by the arm.

There were very strict rules as to who a prince could marry. Princesses and any kind of pauper were fair game, but the bourgeoisie was wholly off limits (whoever heard of a prince falling in love with the middle classes?).

Charming wasn’t sure where a queen featured on the eligibility spectrum. Of course kings married queens all the time, but that was always after their first wife had died, generally in childbirth, and then they always married evil women, most often witches.

Charming had no dead first wife, he wasn’t a king, and Petunia didn’t seem like an evil woman or a witch, despite her slightly hooked nose (in fact now that he had had time to get used to it, it wasn’t so much hooked as charmingly pronounced.) His brow knotted with concern. This was problematic. But, princes were, after all, supposed to conquer insurmountable obstacles to win their fair ladies. He would simply have to find a solution, which would no doubt require a significant number of hours spent in the library researching the matter.

Cheered by the prospect of uninterrupted time with his precious books, Charming turned to inform Petunia of his plans and of their forthcoming engagement. He was shocked to discover that, unbeknownst to him, his arm had been released, and Petunia had climbed the stairs to the balcony, reaching the double doors that led back to the ballroom. This was so startling a development (no woman save for his mother had ever walked away from Charming before) that he could do nothing but gape as she disappeared into the sea of bustles and petticoats. He only had the time to notice that she had steel-grey hair, a fact the night had kept from him till then, before she was swallowed up by the light and the laughter and the whispers of silk.

Charming remained in the darkness, mulling over the events of the evening. It occurred to him then that he hadn’t had the chance to introduce himself. Did Petunia even realise who he was? No matter, he would simply introduce himself when he informed her of their engagement. For now though, the library awaited.

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Hi! I'm Celine

I write different flavours of fantasy with a twist, but always with one uniting thread: quirky, flawed characters and heart-warming found families.

My books span the sub-genres of steampunk (but set in a secondary, tropical world) urban fantasy (set in Asia and London) and gothic gaslamp fantasy.

I'm French, grew up in the UK, and for the last few years I've been living a life of nomadic adventure, exploring the world with my laptop as my constant companion. My adventures have been a great source of inspiration for my stories.

These days I'm trying to figure out where in the world I might stop and setup some bookshelves.

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to contact me at celine@celinejeanjean.com.

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