People generally have two reactions to tales of storybook lives. They either want to hear all about it because it comforts them to know such lives are possible or they don't want to hear a word because the contrast to their own lives makes them cringe.
If you can take the comfort without the cringe, you'll enjoy chapter three in Sharlene Wells' storybook life.Sharlene plunged into the realm of the fairy tale on Sept. 15, 1985, when she was crowned Miss America.
Chapter two, "The Prince," opened two months after she completed her reign. She met Bob Hawkes in a Sunday School class in December 1986, while they were both students at Brigham Young University. She was immediately struck by his guilelessness.
"He was good to the core. You could just see through his eyes and you knew that everything he was telling you was the truth. We never played games - at all. It is so rare not to play games, but he never once tried to impress me."
The couple was engaged in March 1987 and married nearly four months later on July 6.
Sharlene was delighted by Bob's ease in every setting - from handling a dog sled team on his father's ranch to escorting her to black tie affairs.
When Sharlene was 12, she compiled a list of everything she wanted in a husband, including extra perks like dark hair and dark eyes.
"He fit every single category, even down to the extras," she enthused. "Now that we've been married a year, it's even more perfect."
Chapter three, "The Perfect Career," opened three weeks ago.
Sharlene and Bob graduated from BYU in April. But before the couple could have their first anxious moment about what to do with their lives, ESPN came along with an irresistible offer, Sharlene said.
The 24-hour sports network hired Sharlene as one of its reporters. She hosts "ESPN's Classic Summer" on Tuesday nights and flies all over the country doing feature packages used during the rest of the week.
The couple moved to Southbridge, Mass., in May so Sharlene could go to work for ESPN. As with storybooks, the prince is faring every bit as well as the princess.
"When ESPN offered me this job, we took a look at the schools in the area. Bob wanted to get a master's degree in physical therapy. Boston University happens to be one of the top schools in the country for that. But at the time we moved out here, we didn't know if Bob had been accepted into the program. We decided this opportunity with ESPN was too good to pass up, so we moved out here, prayed hard and he got accepted! We were really fortunate."
The couple bought a condominium in a little town halfway between Boston University and ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn. They each commute 2 1/2 hours a day. When he's not in class, Bob works for a clinic in a nearby town, Sharlene said.
"I'm on the road for about four days every two weeks," she said. "The travel is not bad at all during the summer. But during the fall it will really pick up. I'll be gone most of the time."