- Genre: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Fairy Tale
- Published by: Hyperion Avenue
- Publish date: August 03, 2021
- Number of pages: 304 pages
- Author’s website: http://www.imjuliemurphy.com/
- Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!
After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.
Turns out being the only plus-size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration and love in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.
This was such a delightful re-telling of Cinderella in the modern world.
The novel takes place in New York and LA in the 2020s. Cindy has moved back to LA from the Big Apple to be with her family after struggling in design school. A similar set-up to the classic Cinderella story is established, Cindy has a step-mom and step-sisters and a father and mother who have previously passed away. Her step-mother is a producer on one of the hottest television shows in the nation, a Bachelor style show, and her step-sisters are going to be contestants. At the last minute, Cindy joins the show as a contestant and is surprised to see that the man she was on a flight with when she came back to LA is the bachelor. Cindy doesn’t feel like she will win nor does she have the desire to instead she feels this is an opportunity to get her shoe designs some media attention and maybe spark some inspiration.
Although the general plot progression is similar to the original Cinderella, Julie Murphy really makes this story her own and very in line with modern times. The step-family is not “evil” but instead very supportive and wants the best for Cindy. Cindy is a woman not necessarily looking for love but looking to find herself and pursue her passion for fashion shoe design.
In the bachelor show, there are of course conflicts between the contestants as they vie for the attention of the bachelor, but there’s also a vibe of women supporting women and friendship between the contestants that I really enjoyed seeing. Every time I thought there was going to be a super evil person to hate, Murphy defied my expectations. All characters have some flaw but it doesn’t define them (although one of the contestants gets really close).
When it comes to the romance, I absolutely loved that the OG story is dropped. Rather than Cinderella meeting Prince Charming and falling in love despite never saying a word to each other. Cindy goes on dates during the show and we actually get to see them form a connection. It makes the ending conflict and resolution all the more believable, an ending that seems realistic not just a “fairy tale”.