Who doesn’t love a re-imagined fairy tale? Just the idea immediately enthralls me. It’s always fun to see how many elements of the old favorite an author can parallel without making the whole concept seem hokey. At other times, the connection is so vague you’d never know it was there if someone didn’t tell you.
When I heard that one of the Romancing America collections was a set of novellas with a contemporary Cinderella theme, it got my attention. Here’s what they said: “Follow the road to the Emerald City where a contemporary Cinderella-esque cast wrestles with life and love. Will their dreams and wishes come true?”
At first blink, following the road to the Emerald City seems like blending the Wizard of Oz into Cinderella, but then I remembered that one of Seattle’s nicknames is the Emerald City. Clever!
In this retelling, Cindy inherited a brake and muffler shop from her father, and she spends a lot of time there to stay away from her stepmother and two stepsisters. The stepmother is about as nasty as you’d expect from a retelling, but the author chose to redeem the two stepsisters. Here, let me tell you a bit about each of the novellas.
In “Cindy and the Prince,” muffler shop owner Cindy isn’t interested in Luke Princeton, the co-owner of a car rental business across the lot. Luke has eyes only for Cindy and is determined to win her love, even though her stepsisters, Annie and Zella, are equally determined to catch his eye instead. Everything comes to a head at Luke’s annual business banquet.
The big question: are there glass slippers involved?
In “Love by the Books,” Cindy’s stepsister Annie is finished her bookkeeping course and has been doing the books for Cindy’s muffler shop. When Luke and Brent’s bookkeeper is unavailable, they ask Annie to look into a discrepancy in their ledgers. But when Annie suspects user error–possibly on purpose–the two men can’t forget how Annie tried to sabotage Cindy not that long ago. Has she really changed as she says she has? Will Brent believe Annie before they get taken to the cleaners?
The third novella, “Till Death Do Us Part,” features Zella, whose mother had so much fun coordinating Annie’s wedding that she’s determined to marry off Zella as soon as possible and sets her up with a blind date for Friday. In panic, Zella grabs the newspaper and points at an ad, saying she’s part of a book club that night and can’t go. When she arrives at the book club, she soon finds it’s a writers’ group and enthusiastically starts helping Trevor Jones figure out how to commit the perfect murder–on paper, of course. But her mother discovers some of Zella’s research and is certain her daughter is in trouble.
The final novella is called “Never Too Late” and is the story of Cindy’s godmother (no fairies in this one!), Farrah, who we met earlier. Luke’s niece and a boy from youth group are determined to pair Farrah up with the boy’s uncle, a veterinarian, as all parties volunteer at an animal shelter. Farrah is enough older than Matt that it doesn’t seem right to her, but true love isn’t dependent on the year of one’s birth.
All four novellas were written by Gail Sattler, a Canadian who lives not far across the border from her setting in Seattle with her husband, 3 sons, 2 dogs, and a lizard named Bub, who is quite cuddly for a reptile, except when he is eating her houseplants. When she’s not writing, Gail plays piano for the worship team at her church, electric bass for a community jazz band, and acoustic double bass for a local orchestra.
I received an e-copy of this collection for review from NetGalley. Opinions, as always, are mine alone.