What happens after Prince Charming discovers the truth about Cinderella? Can there be a happily ever after for a relationship based in deception?
What’s it About?
Cinderella’s fairy tale moves to Jupiter Island, Florida, where Lily Foster, owner of an eclectic landscape nursery, is mistaken for a wealthy socialite by billionaire resort developer Rhett Buchanan. Overdue for a little romance in her life, Lily is anxious for one fabulous date with her handsome prince, so she cultivates her inadvertent masquerade.
Rhett Buchanan has become jaded with the Palm Beach social scene, dominated by scheming women desperate for more money—his money. Rhett falls hard when he meets Lily Foster. She is a breath of fresh air after the smog of gold diggers constantly surrounding him.
For Rhett and Lily, it’s love at first sight until her deception comes to light and pitches their relationship into a disastrous tailspin. Well-meaning friends are determined to intercede and resort to inept high jinks to reunite the estranged couple while a wicked ex-girlfriend plays dirty to keep the couple apart.
When it comes to modern retellings of classic fairy tales, you better believe I’ll be first in line to read them. This particular story of romance begins with a chance encounter between a billionaire bachelor, Rhett, and a landscape nursery owner, Lily. They’re both clearly smitten with each other, and quickly start a flirtatious dialogue that will fill you with glee. Lily is unfamiliar with such attention by the local elite of her town, and she realizes that Rhett assumes her to be a wealthy plant and flower aficionado rather than the owner of the business.
Now, I’m not entirely convinced being the owner of a successful, locally owned business with long-standing ties to the community would be something you need to hide from a potential suitor, but nonetheless Lily chooses to do just that. She chooses to live in this fairy tale of attention to indulge in just one picture-perfect date with Rhett before calling it quits. What she didn’t anticipate was the intimate connection which develops so quickly between them, and as one date turns into two, then into a weeklong getaway to New York City, she finds it increasingly difficult to reveal the truth about who she is. But if we know anything about fairy tales, it’s that all secrets must eventually come out into the open.
An Unexpected Progression
Everything up until this point in the story, and even some of the aftermath of the big reveal to Lily’s true identity, was a sheer delight. However, I remember being surprised to see that this was all happening within the first third of the novel. Surely after a brief spat about Lily hiding her true profession from Rhett they’ll proceed to kiss and make up and all will be well, right? Or maybe I ended up with a Kindle version that had the entire series in one file? Maybe it’ll just be one really really long epilogue to take up the remaining two-thirds of the book? Not so much. Instead what follows was an extremely drawn out back-and-forth of Lily trying to explain herself, but Rhett refuses to listen. Then when he finally does open his ears to her explanation and they’re seemingly on the mend, something will happen to portray Rhett in a negative light, and now he’s the one trying to win her back. And then it all starts over again on repeat. It was pretty tiring after a while.
The Missing Piece
Overall the story had a lot of positive elements, but the breakdown of the acts just needed to be weighted differently. Rather than having so much back-and-forth mistrust and misunderstanding between them, I think the story could have benefitted from a few more scenes where Lily and Rhett were getting to know each other during that fairy tale week together. We see that at the conclusion of that week they’ve developed a deep emotional connection that they’re both eventually willing to fight for. We have to question though how much they could have discussed seeing as Lily’s business is one of the most important features of her life, and envelops her community of family and friends, yet this is the key detail she keeps secret from Rhett the whole time. Basically, how could she have revealed anything substantive about her life when she keeps the most important and all-consuming part of her life a secret? They also never had sex during this time, so their conversation really was the crucial linchpin in establishing their relationship.
The Evil Ex-Girlfriend
No fairy tale would be complete without a villain, and this story certainly provides us with a villainess who packs a punch. An ex-girlfriend of Rhett’s who doesn’t know when to quit, this woman screams evil upon first meeting. While she was entertaining at the start, she was also pretty one-dimensional in her motivation to win Rhett back for his money and sexual prowess. She’s also in desperate need of a thesaurus to discover another way to refer to Lily other than “slut” and “gold-digger”. Soooo many slut references. Her scheming does escalate rather dramatically by the end, and you just want to tell this woman to take a chill-pill and find another fish in the sea already. Rhett clearly isn’t into her anymore, so why bother with him?
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: The Cinderella Romances, book 1. There are some delightful secondary characters presented in this book, and we almost get to know them better than Rhett and Lily. I can’t wait to see them featured in their own stories going forward.
Final Impressions: A strong start, but this story quickly involves to much back-and-forth of grudges and longing between Rhett and Lily that left the overall plot feeling unbalanced. I really wish we saw more of what brought these two together so closely during that week together that they’re basically in love by the end of it.
Smut Level: We get a few kisses, but no sex.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Soul Mate Publishing, LLC. 364 Pages.