This review can also be found on Steamy Guys After Dark
I. Loved. This. Book.
I had almost forgotten how much I love Cindi Madsen's style--great descriptions and dialogue with realistic storylines and couples that you actually want to succeed. She outdid herself this time, giving us a strong, swoon-worthy guy and
a smart, snarky girl that I felt like I could actually be friends with, all wrapped up with some of my favorite Disney Princesses. ♥
After having a series of failed relationships, Interior designer Darby Quinn decides that Prince Charming isn't out there for her (or anyone) and is through with love when she captures the attention of gorgeous restauranteur Jake Knight. Their very first encounter is the stuff made of fairy tales:
I stepped forward, my thoughts on getting back to my table, when the heel of my stiletto caught. To keep from falling, I had to leave the shoe behind.
"Whoa," I muttered as I recovered from my almost-fall.
I turned around in search of my shoe and saw a guy bend down to retrieve it."
"I think you lost this..."
Sparks immediately fly between them, but Darby's got rules--lots of them, and she isn't looking for love. Lucky for Darby that fate has a way of working itself out. Darby and Jake run into each other everywhere. He owns her favorite restaurant and lives in her building. She keeps trying to resist her attraction to him, but he's persistent.
"Obviously you're beautiful. But there's something different about you that makes me not want to give up."
"You don't even know me," I said.
"And whose fault is that?"
Two creases formed between Jake's eyebrows. "Cinderella's?"
"Yeah, Cinderella screwed me over."
Darby's had her heart broken a few times and relates each one of her break-ups to Disney's leading guys--from Prince Charming to Aladdin to Flynn Rider. She's made case studies about her past relationships to learn some valuable life-lessons (which I loved) and avoid getting sucked back into bad situations. Darby's determined to not allow Jake to get close enough to eventually become another ex, but he's pretty irresistible.
Jake slowed his pace and studied me for a moment. "I guess I just haven't found the right person yet. I t doesn't mean I don't believe she's out there."
"You don't have to pretend you believe in"--I threw up my hands and made air quotes--"'the one'" and falling madly in love to impress me. I wasted too much time believing in all that, so now I'm realistic. the odds of you and me working aren't great."
"But what if we do work out? What if we end up being perfect for each other?"
Can I just say that I loved this guy? He's definitely one of my favorites and I will be adding him to my top-ten list. I love that he's sweet and holds her hand and is affectionate. But I mostly love that he calls her out for her crap, both when she doesn't want to take a chance on being with him and
when she tries to turn the tables and compartmentalize his actions. I love that he's also no doormat.
"Maybe if you'd have looked for a reason to be with me instead of dump me, you would've found one."
He's sweet and sexy and protective and I just love
him, especially when he says stuff like this:
"I'm so crazy about you that if you asked me to give up watching sports for the rest of my life, I would."
"Couch or bed?"
I really loved Darby, too. She's smart and isn't afraid to admit when she's feeling vulnerable. I really appreciated that she started to discover that her own rules were dumb and that she didn't actually have everything figured out.
Her friends and family were pretty great, too, especially her brothers. I love that they called her out for being stupid and not giving love a chance. I loved the descriptions Madsen used--she's truly talented, taking us effortlessly from a bustling city to small-town country life. I totally felt like I was there and could really feel familiarity with even the most minor characters.
So, I guess you can tell that I loved everything, right? I did. There were a few things that I didn't like, like her reaction to something in Jake's past. I did
love Jake's reaction to that, though, so I guess I did love it after all lol. I also didn't like Darby's reaction to the reemergence of one of her exes, and I would have liked more at the end of the story. Of course, this book has a FTB and I really, really
wanted it not to.
Even the dedication is perfect: I hope you learn that you don't need a prince charming to make all your dreams come true, but that you find one anyway.
I'm making this as a painting and putting it up in my daughters room. And bonus points to Madsen for her use of "twitterpated". I love her even more, now.
Great storyline, amazing characters, and the perfect amount of romance, all tied up in a princess-worthy sparkly bow. Total win.