Newly graduated from Parsons, Cindy is in a bit of a bind. She’s not been inspired much since the death of her father hit her and now she’s looking at limited prospects while trying to get her mojo back. When her stepmother, the executive producer of the hit dating show Before Midnight, needs someone to replace a contestant who dropped out, Cindy volunteers. She has no real interest in dating, she’s just there for the fame and potential sponsorship offers. To her surprise, she’s a big hit with the fans – a plus-sized heroine for the nation to rally behind. She never expects to actually be attracted to the bachelor, Henry. Oh boy, what a mess this is…
Okay, but can we talk about that cover? The dress… The little lean on Henry. The fact that she’s stolen his shoe. Like OMG! This cover is cute AF, and I am 1000% here for it.
And unlike so many cute, rom-com styled covers, this book is actually a rom-com. We get our first taste of that very early on when Cindy meets a guy she dubs “Prince Charming” at the airport and they immediately get into a discussion about playing “don’t step in the lava” and the perils of air travel. I actually laughed out loud with this book. The dialogue was so cute and unexpected. I thought I knew which way things would go, but I was wrong. It was refreshing.
I really loved the changes to the Cinderella story. Yes, there’s definite shout outs to the fairy tale and to the Disney retelling, but they are just that: shout outs. This is not your grandmother’s Cinderella story. I was so pleasantly surprised by the relationships between characters as well as the women supporting women storylines. I loved that this book just had casual representation without making a big production out of it. PoC, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized identities were just there… like they are in real life. And I loved that all of the characters had their race/skintone indicated and not just the people of color. A+ lack of othering.
The storyline is fun. It’s pretty much exactly what I said it was in the summary. A plus-sized girl ends up on a reality show and ends up falling for the bachelor. There’s some fun twists and turns along the way. I especially love a particular scene that happens pretty late in the book in NYC. I don’t want to spoil it since it’s one of the best scenes in the book.
That said, this book isn’t perfect. There’s a timing/timeline issue that had me sort of stumped. Based on what I know of reality shows, these kind of shows air weekly and everything up until the finale is taped in fairly short order. And then only the finale is broadcast live. Now it could be different for this show, but it wasn’t clearly stated. It’s something I noticed but I was willing to give it a pass since I did read an ARC and there are some shows that do broadcast everything live. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But it’s the characters and the message that really make this book special. I adore Cindy. She’s not perfect but she’s fun, real, and well-rounded. I love that she’s comfortable in her skin and that she knows her worth and isn’t willing to settle. I loved Henry. He was such a complex man with complex feelings who was such a good fit for Cindy. A real prince charming. Even better, he was a person of color (Latinx) and the story didn’t shy away from that.
I loved so much of the supporting cast too… including Drew and Anna. They were so good. The message of this book was also well done. That there needs to be a place for people of all body types and all body shapes need to be welcomed and celebrated. This is particularly true when fat people are still acceptable targets for ridicule and disdain. (As of the writing of this review the New York Times had an article that advises people to ditch their “fat friends” because apparently obesity is contagious.) So seeing Cindy navigating the world that isn’t meant for her, where finding clothing is a challenge, is honestly refreshing.
I loved the ending of the book. I didn’t see it coming and that was great. Frankly I love this book so much that I’m going to want to reread it again and again.
If this is your jam, you can get it here.
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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley