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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews Ella's life was going relatively well. She had a loving mother, a successful book and movie review blog, and Cinder, her internet bestie. A terrible car accident changed all that. Now she is forced to live with the father who abandoned her and his new wife and her children. Even though she is legally old enough to decide for herself, she has no say in the matter. Her injuries from the crash were severe and before she can be allowed to live on her own, she has to prove she is ready for it. Her first step? Reconnect with Cinder. Cinder, AKA hot Hollywood actor Brian Oliver, has a reputation for trouble. His PR team thinks the only way he can be taken seriously as an actor is if the world believes he has settled down a bit. From that, a scheme is born. Fake an engagement with his current co-star is the perfect solution. He's not happy, but willing to go along, at least until he receives an email from a long lost friend that changes everything. Ella has the worst luck in the beginning of this novel, or for the most part really. The loss of her mother is bad enough, especially considering how close they were. Add to that, her crippling injuries and the sting of having to live with the woman her dad abandoned her for, and I'm almost surprised she was never truly suicidal. Her relationship with her dad is awkward and rocky to start with, her step-mom seems kinda clueless, and her step-sisters are downright cruel. She has lost everything important to her in one fell swoop and it's difficult to be optimistic after that. When she emails Cinder, she isn't expecting much and she is blown away by his response. As their relationship rekindles, she comes a bit more out of her shell. I really loved her and felt bad for her. The scene where she learns her dad donated all her books hit me almost as hard as it hit her. You did what? How could you? How does anyone look at books and think "mmhmm...these can't be that important to anyone"? Maybe I'm not normal, but when I see someone's book collection, that would be the last thought that would enter my mind. Books are precious and especially ones with memories attached to them. I just wanted to hug her and help her and make things better. Cinder/Brian was a character I didn't initially love. I realize I have no idea how Hollywood works, but I hated the idea that he would be okay with fake-marrying someone as a publicity stunt. I realize that shit probably does happen, but I can't get behind it. After we get over that hiccup, though, I loved him. I loved his devotion to Ella and his love for The Cinder Chronicles. Honestly, I'd love any guy passionate enough about a book series to argue with a blogger over it and then fight to play the role in the film adaptation. Speaking of The Cinder Chronicles, is it real? It's not, because I did an pretty hardcore search online trying to find it, but can it be? Kelly? Can you make that happen? Can we have an epic spin-off of this? I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. I think it would be a roaring success. That's just something for you to think about because I'd seriously love to get my hands on it. It sounds awesome. I loved the dynamic between
Cinder Brian and Ella. I loved their banter and their ability to be there when the other needs it most. I've always been sketchy about internet relationships, but this is far from the typical scenario. They didn't meet in a chatroom or through a weird find-an-internet-buddy site. She wrote a review online and Cinder Brian was riled up enough by it to comment and the resulting argument spurred on the continual contact.****MINOR SPOILER****I was a little surprised that Ella never recognizes his voice once they progress to phone conversations. She has seen his films and knows of him as an actor, so I was expecting at least a minor, he sounds vaguely familiar moment. I recognize voices a lot more than faces, especially in films. I'll hear someone and recognize the voice, even if the face is unfamiliar. I think Ella should have at least questioned it, because I doubt the distortion of a phone would mask it completely****END SPOILER**** What I (surprisingly) loved was the family relationship. Things are far from perfect, but the further into the story you get, the more you realize that there is no easy answer. Daddy dearest did abandon Ella. Step-Mom is clueless, but she is genuinely trying to help. The step-sisters are both anger at her for different reasons. Anastasia and Juliette (the step-sisters) are mean, but they both have their reasons. It's clear that as much as I want this to wrap up in a fairy tale way, with the step-family just being the bad guys, that's not how it's going to happen. Oram does one step better and humanizes everyone. Even when you hate her family, you can't help but feel the stress she is putting on their lives. This is the first of Oram's novels I've read and I can truly say I'm desperate for me. When I started this, I was expecting a cute, fluffy Cinderella retelling and we definitely get that, but we also get so much more. This novel was unputdownable (I know, that's not a word, but it should be). I was hooked from page one and it physically pained me when I had to put it down for real-life things (you know, work, food, bathroom breaks). It has the perfect balance of heartbreaking and heartwarming. It manages to make you laugh and cry in equal amounts. This is now officially my favorite Cinderella retelling and I hope you all love it as much as I did! ****Thank you to Kelly Oram for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****