Artist and free spirit Daisy Flattery loves her mix-matched furniture, her beloved stray pets and her attempts at making a living telling stories. Her neighbor, Linc Blaise, is a straight-laced college history professor who seems annoyed by Daisy’s very existence. But when Linc tells a little white lie and suddenly needs a fiancee in order to secure his dream job, it’s Daisy he turns to. Daisy desperately needs the cash and figures a short-term gig pretending to be Linc’s prim and proper future wife can’t hurt. But when their fake engagement turns into a very real marriage, Linc and Daisy start to realize that maybe there’s something to their relationship.
I spotted The Cinderella Deal on a bookstore shelf and bought it solely on the strength of author Jennifer Crusie’s name. I had previously read – and loved – Crusie’s Bet Me, so I was eager to read some of her other books for comparison. As an added bonus, I’ve been a longtime fan of Cinderella stories and adaptations, so it seemed like a match made in literary heaven. Alas, it was not meant to be. While I didn’t hate The Cinderella Deal, I didn’t love it – and since I was hoping and probably expecting to love it, I ended up disappointed.
Even knowing of the Cinderella-inspired plot, I found myself reacting strongly to Daisy’s “makeover.” While it made sense for her to play a specific part when she was going to be Linc’s fiancee for just one weekend, I didn’t like how her unexpected marriage caused Daisy to lose herself. She spends the majority of the novel trying so hard to be someone she was not, all for a man who didn’t seem to appreciate or even notice her efforts. I kept wanting Daisy to push back more, to be the Daisy we meet at the beginning of the novel. And while Linc does eventually come to accept Daisy for who she is (and even does some changing himself), it felt a bit too late to be truly satisfying.
Meanwhile, Crusie’s secondary characters came across as somewhat flat and stock-ish. I was truly baffled at the inclusion of some of them (I’m still not sure what real purpose Art and Caroline served, since they weren’t integrated into the novel enough to make a real impact) and others didn’t seem to stand out. Those who did – Chickie and Crawford, as examples – were too stereotypical to really add to my enjoyment of the novel.
And yet… The Cinderella Deal is still fun and lighthearted enough that I don’t regret reading it. The novel’s premise seems so unbelievable that it makes for a perfectly delightful romance novel. Even with my various quibbles with the plot and the characters, I was still happy (*spoiler alert*) to see Daisy and Linc get their happily ever after. It was an easy, summer beach book and while I didn’t love it, someone else might.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]