Read a full summary of Once Upon a Broken Heart, book #1, in Stephanie Garber’s Once Upon a Broken Heart series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in Once Upon a Broken Heart, then you are in the right place!
Special thanks to Morgan Boeh for providing this recap! Check her out on Instagram at @literarymorgan.
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Once Upon a Broken Heart?
Once Upon a Broken Heart opens with Evangeline Fox, the protagonist, trying to stop a wedding between the love of her life, Luc Navarro, and her stepsister, Marisol. Evangeline believes that this must be a mistake, as she and Luc are in love with one another, so she calls upon one of the Fates rumored to be able to grant a person their wish in exchange for three kisses at any time to any person that he chooses. This Fate is named Jacks, The Prince of Hearts, and while he grants her wish, he does so at a great cost.
When Evangeline arrives at the wedding, she finds out that everyone in attendance has been turned to stone. She is horrified. Jacks tells her that the only way to undo the stone curse is for someone to take their place by drinking poison from a brass goblet. Jacks tries to convince her that she is better off not saving them, but Evangeline pushes back and realizes that the warnings she heard about the Fates being cruel and only looking out for themselves are true. Wracked with guilt, Evangeline drinks the poison. Evangeline thinks that in saving the nine victims of the stone curse, one of them will find a way to save her too.
Evangeline wakes up from her stone curse six weeks later because the palace’s potion master (and a Fate), Poison, has finally managed to cure her. She is confused because none of her loved ones are there to greet her. Evangeline is also confused because the Fates were supposed to have disappeared, and they seemingly are starting to make a reappearance. Evangeline wonders if Jacks is the one to help her by connecting her with Poison, but Poison tells her that Jacks has probably forgotten all about her. He warns her that because of her deal with Jacks she is more likely to be drawn to Fates now.
She makes her return home and is baffled by the attention and praise she gets from the kingdom of Valenda. Everyone claps and cheers for her. Agnes, her stepmother, greets her with unusual warmth, her stepsister, Marisol, acts strangely, and Luc is nowhere to be found. A reporter, Kutlass Knightlinger, is there, and she realizes that because of her selfless act to switch places, the kingdom now regards her as a hero. Mr. Knightlinger wants to interview her, but Evangeline feels guilty for all the attention because she is the one who inadvertently caused them to turn into stone.
When Evangeline catches up with Marisol, she is shocked to find out that Marisol and Luc tried to get married again while she was stone. Their wedding was stopped two times. The first time occurred when a “Week of Terror” was unleashed by the Fates. The second time it was stopped was because Luc was mauled by a wolf. Evangeline feels guilty and almost tells Marisol about her involvement but decides against it. Evangeline has been dubbed “Valenda’s Sweetheart Savior,” while Marisol has been dubbed “The Cursed Bride.”
Evangeline’s stepmother, Agnes, has been basking in Evangeline’s praise and using it to gain better placement in society. Evangeline learns that Agnes has been twisting things to attract suitors for her and Marisol and thus gain more wealth. Agnes has also sold Evangeline’s dad’s Old Curiosity Shop, which Evangeline dearly loved. Evangeline wards off suitors by telling everyone she is not fully recovered from turning to stone and that she could turn them to stone in turn. This infuriates Agnes.
Evangeline finds a letter from Luc to Marisol, all but confirming that he had more of a romance with Marisol than Evangeline. He and his family left town after his accident.
Time passes, and Evangeline receives an invitation from Scarlett Dragna, the Empress of the Meridian Empire. At the palace, she meets with the Empress, Scarlett, and the Princess, Donatella. They want her to head to the Magnificent North as their ambassador for the Nocte Neverending celebration. The Nocte Neverending is a celebration for the Crown Prince to choose his bride. Donatella says she cannot attend as there is someone in the north that she is avoiding. They try to discuss more about Northern customs and the prince, but suddenly their memories go foggy, leading Evangeline to remember the tales her parents told her and how certain stories from the North may be cursed. Evangeline agrees to go, hoping for a fresh start and a chance to find love.
Evangeline feels bad for Marisol, so she invites her to travel north with her. After traveling by sea, they arrive and are greeted by Frangelica, who oversees their stay. They explore the city and find its various wares and attractions charming, if not a bit unusual. They buy a gossip magazine that discusses various women’s prospects (including Evangeline’s) at attracting the attention of the Crown Prince, Apollo. Evangeline secretly hopes that she herself has a chance.
At one of the palace events, Evangeline makes the acquaintance of another potential suitor named LaLa. Evangeline feels Jacks presence at the ball and is anxious to find that he is there but in a disguise of blue hair instead of blonde. He is known as a “close confidant” to the prince, which unnerves Evangeline. Jacks tells her that her first kiss is to be with Apollo. Jacks marks her mouth with his blood, which is potent magic.
She must kiss Apollo tonight or die. Jacks introduces her to Apollo, and things are awkward until she musters the courage to kiss him. Evangeline is surprised when he passionately returns her kiss. She feels uneasy because the kiss is almost too passionate. The kiss is interrupted when Jacks suggests that it is time to go. She looks back at Apollo, who is seemingly in a trance after their kiss. Jacks suggests that this is only the beginning.
Evangeline and Marisol find a pamphlet shoved under their room’s door, which is a newspaper article stating, “Beware of the Cursed Bride.” Marisol agonizes over her fallen reputation, and as Evangeline leaves for the ball, Marisol accidentally tears off a flower from her dress, but Evangeline fears that it was intentional.
Evangeline thinks about the rumors surrounding Marisol and goes back to their room to investigate but doesn’t get very far when Marisol encounters her. The distrust between the two girls is palpable.
At the ball, Apollo proposed to Evangeline, which both excites and confuses her. She says yes. Marisol appears jealous. Marisol says she danced with a man who she was interested in – Jacks. Evangeline warns her away, which only further drives a wedge between the stepsisters.
Apollo and Evangeline prepare for the wedding. Evangeline asks to meet with Jacks to request that he undo whatever spell he has cast on Apollo. Jacks says that he will only do so after the two are married.
For her second kiss, Jacks takes Evangeline to a castle of the Fortuna matriarch, where they are met with antagonism. The matriarch takes one look at Evangeline and wants them to leave. Evangeline kisses the woman’s cheek, and suddenly she is welcoming to her. Jacks manipulates the Fortuna matriarch into showing them the Vault. There, they discover that the matriarch is hiding an ancient arch that was said to have held too much power. They learn of the prophecy of the Valory Arch, which implies that Evangeline will open the arch and unleash its power. The Fortuna matriarch screams that Evangeline cannot marry Apollo and cannot open the arch. Evangeline worries that Jacks is using her to wield the arch’s power for himself.
Evangeline and Apollo marry, and Apollo’s brother, Tiberius, returns. It is unclear why he disappeared for a while, but things are tense between the brothers.
Now that she has married Apollo, Evangeline meets with Jacks to have him undo Apollo’s enthrall. He puts his blood on her lips, and this time it tastes bitter instead of sweet. She meets Apollo and finds him in their bedchamber with a mysterious oil on his chest. She drinks wine to steel herself to kiss him. She kisses him, and while it breaks the spell, it shockingly also kills him.
Evangeline calls for help, though the knights quickly assume that she has killed Apollo. She tries to defend herself to no avail. Throughout all of this, she struggles to speak through uncontrollable tears. Jacks shows up to get her out of the situation and realizes that her tears are the result of a magical poison. She could cry herself to death. Evangeline resists Jacks’ help at first and accuses him of murdering Apollo. He tells Evangeline that there was no magic in any of his kisses- everything that has happened has been because he willed it so.
To get the poison out of her system, he takes her to LaLa, who we find out is another Fate, called The Unwed Bride. She is able to cure Evangeline because the poisonous tears were actually hers but stolen.
LaLa and Evangeline talk, where LaLa says that Jacks might have a chance at true love despite the ominousness of his story. Jacks is notoriously known as the Fate who kills potential love with his kisses. LaLa states that his story supposedly promises that only one girl is immune to his kiss.
Jacks and Evangeline decide to go on a journey to discover who really killed Apollo and poisoned her. This journey leads them to another Fate, Chaos, who is known as the Lord of Spies and Assassins. He is also a vampire.
Once at Chaos’ lair, they see a party of vampires biting humans. The humans will turn into vampires if the newly bitten vampire can drink human blood before the night is over. Jacks and Evangeline try to avoid the potential vampires when Evangeline is stopped by a caged Luc. He is now a newly bitten vampire. Evangeline wants to rescue him out of the love they had, but Jacks warns her that he is not the same Luc and is only using her because he wants her blood.
Luc tells her that Marisol cursed him, and that’s the only reason why he was marrying her over Evangeline. He said after his wolf attack, he traveled North for vampire blood to cure him of the attack’s physical effects and that he needs her to save him.
Evangeline feels sorry for him and lets him out of his cage. He then attacks her, as Jacks had warned. Jacks has to snap Luc’s neck, but not before Luc was able to bite him.
Now, Evangeline and Jacks must make it to sunrise without Jacks having human blood otherwise, he will fully transform into a vampire.
They survive the night, and when they are traveling back to the kingdom, Evangeline grabs a newspaper which informs her that Marisol is getting married, and even more shockingly, to Tiberius. Evangeline thinks her stepsister is up to no good and has used a spell to enchant Tiberius.
Evangeline looks for an antidote to a love curse so that she can save Tiberius. Once she has made an antidote for him, she heads to the castle, where she runs into Marisol. They have a confrontation, and Marisol confesses that she did curse Luc but never meant for things to get so out of hand. This prompts Evangeline to confess her secrets, but this backfires when Marisol gets angry and calls the guards on Evangeline. Once the guards enter, Marisol claims that Evangeline confessed to murdering Apollo.
Tiberius enters and demands to question Evangeline. Evangeline pleads her innocence, but Tiberius won’t listen to her. While he interrogates her, he is drawn to the antidote potion that Evangeline enchanted and starts to drink it. The potion takes a while to kick in, so Evangeline stalls for time. We learn that he is a member of the Protectorate, an order established to prevent the Valory Arch from ever being opened again. Evangeline realizes that even if she cures him of his infatuation with Marisol, she will never leave the room alive because of this. Tiberius tells her must kill her because she is the prophesized key that will open the Valory Arch. He starts to take a fatal strike when she implores him to have his guard kill her instead, as Apollo wouldn’t want his brother to deliver the killing blow. She knows that the antidote potion has multiple side effects, including not being able to tell a lie, so she hopes to use this to her advantage.
The guards come in, and Evangeline tells Tiberius to read them her charges. He cannot do it, because it would be a lie to say that Evangeline is guilty of killing Apollo. He is forced to confess the truth, which turns out to be that he killed Apollo!
He sobs as he explains he meant to kill Evangeline, but his brother was accidentally poisoned in the process. The guards take him away.
How did Once Upon a Broken Heart end?
Evangeline quickly resumes her role as princess once the kingdom learns of her innocence. She and Jacks make plans to meet, but before they can, one of Apollo’s knights and a mysterious woman named Phaedra the Damned need to show her something. They lead Evangeline below the castle, where Apollo lies in a suspended state. He isn’t dead, and they want Evangeline to wake him up.
Evangeline debates calling Jacks for help, but she thinks over their complicated history together and feels that she cannot trust him. She concludes that this was Jacks plan all along- to use her as a pawn to open the Valory Arch and manipulate Apollo’s death so that she would be forced into doing his bidding.
She steels herself, realizing that Jacks is not her friend but that he taught her an important lesson: she can open any door she wants, and she knows which door she needs to open next.
The book ends cryptically, as an ancient door in the castle begins to stir and creak.
There you go! That’s what happened in Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. We hope you enjoyed this Once Upon a Broken Heart summary with spoilers.
Special thanks to Morgan Boeh for providing this recap! Check her out on Instagram at @literarymorgan.
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