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Cinderella and the Colonel (Timeless Fairy Tales Book 3) Kindle Edition
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For me, this was a "turn off my brain and enjoy" book that left me smiling. The writing is stronger than I expected at first but still less than I'd expect from a traditionally published novel--solid, though. Uses a lot of popular fiction tropes but has arranged them in a surprising/fresh way given it's a Cinderella fairy tale. I've also never read the "woman trying to maintain her household in a conquered nation" plot outside of Gone with the Wind before.
Biggest Pro: A Cinderella with real agency and complexity, who's busy actually doing a wide variety of things. Some of those things are over the top and not terribly convincing, or just outright cliche, but I'm not going to lie--I was a little in love with her myself. She's the sort of larger-than-life but still flawed and unique character who I can really see as heroic and look up to.
Biggest Con: It's a relatively mild version of the traditional abusive stalker romance plot. The Colonel forces his attentions upon Cinderella, who for a long time outright hates him and just tolerates him because his military rank means she has to, until she gives in. I really hate the urge to make a strong female character and then have a male who doesn't take no for an answer break her, but this one wasn't as bad as some others since (a) she's a real strong character and not a faux one, and (b) he isn't physically violent toward her. The last novel I read was much worse in this respect, which is probably why I was able to overlook the fault here.
I'd recommend for someone obsessed with fairy tale retellings but wouldn't recommend for children since I'd be concerned about it socializing them into accepting/expecting/romanticizing boundary violations. There are much more intellectually and emotionally satisfying books out there in this genre but I could see myself getting into this author because she's prolific and has that surprising spark of creativity and charisma that I kind of like even more in rough form than in more sophisticated writing.
At first, the tone felt a bit too formal, almost off-putting. For the first chapter or two I questioned if I should flip over to one of my other books, but I liked Cinderella's character from chapter one and decided to continue on. The story sucked me in from there. The retelling felt fresh, not an old tale that has been re-imagined time and time again, which made it truly delightful. I was even pleasantly surprised by an unexpected plot twist near the middle.
The romance in this story is subtle at first and a delight to follow--clean, and sweet. Honestly, I shared Cinderella's feeling about certain characters right along with her. That made the story all the more fun. She was easy to identify with, and easy to cheer, thus the 5 stars.
Basically, if you love fairy tales, this is a lovely retelling, and one you are certain to enjoy.
Content warning: CLEAN. Minor violence.
I happily recommend this book to anyone that wants a Cinderella story that still has magic, but where the protagonist doesn't really need it to achieve all of her goals.
One of my favorite things about this book was Cinderella's character. She understood that if she gave up, she would become a "damsel in distress", but she remained strong and didn't give up hope. And throughout it all, she kept her integrity and kindness. Being kind and gentle and being strong don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, being kind, forgiving, and choosing to love instead of hate really takes a lot more strength of mind than many people are willing to work on.
5 stars. Now I have to go back and read the first book again...
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