For seven years Kate Daltry has lived an inbetween existence - not one of the family, but not quite a servant - thanks to her wicked stepmother. But things are about to change, because in order to marry her betrothed, Kate's sister Victoria must get the approval of her fiancé's cousin. And Victoria needs to get married, quickly. Except she can't go - and the cousin is a prince. It's up to Kate to make things right.
Yet when Kate meets the prince she can't decide if he's the most arrogant man she's ever met, or the most handsome. Not that it matters, since she's in disguise, and the prince has a rich fiancée of his own about to arrive. It's just with kisses like theirs, the penniless servant girl can't help but dream of a fairytale ending...
After the long and delightful 'Desperate Duchesses' series, Eloisa James is back with a stand-alone retelling of Cinderella. All the important elements are in place - downtrodden girl, wicked stepmother, charming prince, the godmother, the ball, and of course the glass slipper, but in true EJ style there's a bit more to it than that.
Kate is a wonderful heroine, spirited, witty and fully aware of what life has thrown at her. It's wonderful to see her change and grow throughout the story, with the assistance of her new friends, her godmother and, of course, her prince. Not that she has any illusions about Gabriel. He's heavily burdened with responsibilities and the sense of duty that means he'll do what it takes to fulfil them. Even marry a woman he doesn't love, simply because she's rich. When Kate lands in his life, and he falls so hard, it's difficult not to feel for him.
Surrounding these two are a delightful cast of supporting characters, not least the inhabitants of Pomeroy Castle, for whom Gabriel feels so responsible. Henrietta (Henry) is an unusual godmother, but is all the more enjoyable for it, and it's nice that Victoria isn't a wicked stepsister, just a bit dim. There are also the rats, or Victoria's three lap dogs, who have endearing and amusing qualities of their own. Not forgetting Wick, Leo, Effie, the sick lion and a pickle eating dog. Quirky and full of eccentricities, there's never a dull moment with this lot around.
Sumptuous, romantic, sexy and witty, this fairytale is an excellent read. I didn't want this to be a standalone, since I want to know so much more about so many of these characters. Still, I'm looking forward to her next retold fairytale - When Beauty Tamed the Beast
. Eloisa James never disappoints.