Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cinderella Week: Cinderella and the Ghost by Marina Myles

The Basics:

Cinderella and the Ghost by Marina Myles

Historical Romance
Published February 16, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Cinderella Week:

This was another easy pick-up for Cinderella week - a paranormal Cinderella sounds right up my alley!

When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!

The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps—or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams…
My thoughts:

Cinderella and the Ghost starts off with a twist in the traditional fairy tale. Ella's stepmother has just died, and Ella finds out that due to her father's pre-planning, she's inheriting a French chateau and the funds to renovate it - much to her stepsisters' frustration. They want a cut of the money, but all that's left of their mother's estate are her two dogs.

Ella's whisked from a life of servitude to sudden freedom in France, where she discovers the chateau is eerily familiar. It comes complete with the ghost of the estate's first owner, Jean-Daniel, a vicomte who died in 1703 under mysterious circumstances, and whose spirit now haunts a portrait in the house.

Things get very strange when Ella steps through the painting, into the past, with the aim of saving Jean-Daniel from his fate. 
There's a godmother who provides some questionable advice, as well as the glass slippers we all know and love and a masquerade ball. 

I'd give the story five Glass Slippers out of five for including all the familiar Cinderella elements. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the book very much and part of that is because I felt that sometimes the story was manipulated so that it could include each trope from the fairy tale. The ending was particularly awkward on that front.

My other big issue with Cinderella and the Ghost lies in the writing. It felt very awkward to me, and sometimes had me cringing. For example, there are many similes that stick out from the rest of the narration because they seem to come from left field. Ella comparing her heart beat to the spinning wheels of a race car, for example, particularly while she's standing in a chateau in 18th century France, just seemed so... wrong. Perhaps if she'd shown an enthusiasm for racing while she was in the 21st century, but even then, I think it would have been sufficient to simply tell us that her heart was racing.   

The sex scenes were particularly awkward - Ella's bad experience with intimacy in her personal past creates several moments that were uncomfortable not only for her and Jean-Daniel but also for me! All the declarations of love or tallying of positive qualities during intimacy was also unfortunate as they make Jean-Daniel seem a whole lot skeevy and Ella seem very naive. 

I also thought the harping on 'the rules' about nobles marrying commoners got very old, very quickly. The language around this was awkward - was it really a law in 18th century France?  I didn't get a sense that this was a very well research story (the painting scene, in particular, made me wonder - I feel like portrait painting and the treatment of servants was probably a bit... uhh... different?). I could write some of this off as being unique to the world of the book, but the repetition of it all made me revisit the question of research time and again.

The timeline also confused me at various points. There's one night that seems to stretch on forever - and I didn't understand the logic in many of the plot points. In the end, there wasn't a whole lot that did work for me about this book other than the initial concept - Cinderella and the ghost of a prince who loves her. 

Bottom line:

Cinderella and the Ghost just didn't do it for me. While it's a pretty faithful adaptation of the Cinderella story - with a time travel twist - I found the writing to be a bit weak and story a little awkward. 

2 stars
For diehard fans of Cinderella adaptations or time travel romances.

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of Cinderella and the Ghost:

CK2's Kwips and Kritiques

Paein and Ms4tune

Sweets Books Book Blog

Kilts and Swords

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