Zirconia Publishing, $12.99, ISBN 978-1948467018
Contemporary Romance, 2018
The tricky thing about a Cinderella-style romance set in the present day is that the world has changed. The author can’t just simply pull off stunts to force the heroine into a position of weakness, because there are often rules in place that will allow the heroine to either seek recourse or a big settlement in court. No many how often the heroine mouths off sassy quips to prove how feisty she is, the fact that she allows herself to keep being oppressed and exploited makes her come off like a big dumb dumb.
And this is exactly what happens to our heroine Aria. When the story opens, her stepmother cheerfully has her reassigned to a lower post so that her stepsister can get her job, as an aide to Senator Glenn, instead. Her reaction is to burst into tears and passively start to look for a new job. Why is it so important for her to work for a senator anyway? Well, her father, now dead of course, was a senator, you see, so I suppose she is now on the hunt for a new father. Indeed, she is daydreaming about her happy times with her father when she bumps into the hero, Henry Prescott, who runs into her while chasing a Frisbee. She realizes that he is so hot and spends a lot of time watching his biceps flex while he is talking to her, and so, it’s love.
The rest of the story sees Aria acting all cute and helpless, constantly victimized by her stepmother to the point that that woman seems to be setting Aria up to go to jail. I’m actually crushed when Henry turns out to be a prince rather than a football player, thus being the guy in the best position to eventually sweep Aria off to his palace, where she will never have to trouble herself with the difficult tasks of thinking for and making decisions for herself ever again. Damn, I want to see Aria go to jail!
Of course, everyone who isn’t a mean stepmother loves Aria and thinks that she is the bee’s knees, even if Aria doesn’t really do anything here to earn her happy ending. The romance feels so shallow and superficial, resembling more of a rescue fantasy than a love story, and it’s not a satisfying one because everything just falls into our heroine’s lap. Hey, the hero literally falls onto her! The overall tone of the story is a hot mess victim realness, except when it comes to the lust part, which can be pretty adult in comparison. Hence, this story can be quite bipolar as it can veer from hee-hee so-cute young adult overtones to “Oh, I want him inside me now!” horny toad mode, and back again. When our hot mess victim goes from helpless crybaby to “GIVE IT TO ME BABY!”, it’s like stumbling upon some teenage kids’ make-out session. I’m not going ooh, hot; instead, I’m all “Yucks! I don’t need to see that!”.
An American Cinderella is more of a throwback to its fairy tale roots: you know, the one which has good things happen to the heroine without her acting earning any of these good things. However, back in those days, someone in Aria’s circumstance would have little power to better or defend herself, hence such a story is alright. Set in the modern day, though, Aria’s willingness to keep playing the victim grates, since she has far more power to seek redress.
Oh well. I suppose this one will please readers who just want a vicarious fantasy of a heroine who gets all the nice things handed to her solely for being as a cute, hapless victim. If you’re in the mood for that kind of thing, well, Aria is waiting for you. Ugh, I really want to see her useless perky rear end stomped upon in jail.