Back in the last century, granted the very end of it, romance novels with fairy tale themes were popular. Actually, things haven't changed much. They still are or are again depending on your perspective.
Two of the titles on the fairy tale romance novels list that have always intrigued me are The Emperor's New Clothes, first published in 1997, and The Princess and the Pea, first published in 1996, by Victoria Alexander. Stand alone novels, according to Alexander's site, the novels were out of print for a while but have been reissued in recent years. Recently, they have also been released digitally for the first time which means they don't have to ever go out of print again. (Do you get sick of my glee over books staying in print as ebooks? I don't obviously. I still am thrilled every time I see older titles are released and achieve a new life.)
So why do these books stand out to me--I've not read them I admit--they weren't even readily available again until recently. It's probably obvious to some of you but I'll explain myself. These are two fairy tales that are rarely reinterpreted in modern fiction of any sort. Whatever the result, I admire an author who takes on that challenge. Alexander chose two Hans Christian Andersen tales, too, which I doubt was a coincidence. Those are some tricky fairy tales to reinterpret in a novel length effort. To remind ourselves of the short list, visit the Modern Interpretations pages at Emperor's New Clothes and Princess and the Pea. Romances aren't on the lists there but on a separate list. To my knowledge it's the only novel length interpretation of Emperor's Clothes ever. All others have been short stories or in the case of Adam Gidwitz's In a Glass Grimmly, it was a chapter of a novel.
Are you interested in a list of fairy tale romance novel titles? I have a list hidden on SurLaLune at Fairy Tale Romances. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it's still one of the best lists around of that nature. The Cinderella list could be almost doubled by now. She's a favorite trope for romance authors. Ditto Beauty and the Beast although those interpretations tend to be much looser than the Cinderella ones. The others, not so much.
Book description for The Emperor's New Clothes:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander spins the unforgettable story of a beautiful grifter and an irresistible mayor ...
Mistaken for the Countess of Bridgewater, expert con artist Ophelia Kendrake can't believe her good fortune. This could be the opportunity she needs to secure the future of the sister who means so much to her. But when she meets Tyler "Tye" Matthews, her plans to dupe the sleepy town of Dead End, Wyoming, prove difficult—for she's met her match in the wildly attractive mayor.
As the reluctant new mayor of Dead End, Tye is irritated to learn his first duty in office is to escort a visiting countess. But when he sees the stunning beauty, he wants to spend every waking moment with her. Suspecting Ophelia has secrets, Tye vows to uncover them—and thoroughly seduce her.
Book description for The Princess and the Pea:
The classic tale of a fervent courtship between an American heiress and a dashing British earl from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander
Feel the pea through this bed and win the heart of the man you'll wed.
A true American princess, Cecily White stood to inherit her father's business empire. And with the twentieth century right around the corner, the independent beauty had no intention of marrying some foreign nobleman seeking her money. Then, on a trip to England, Cece fell under the spell of a dashing peer who had more to recommend him than the length of his title and the size of his countinghouse. But Cece wouldn't surrender her heart to the virile Earl of Graystone until he proved that the only treasure he wanted was her love.