ARC Review: The Duke’s Secret Cinderella

Cinderella is one of those stories that is part of our culture. Though the bones of the tale can seem archaic, that does not mean that modern writers can try their hand at making it accessible for the present-day audience.

The Duke’s Secret Cinderella, by Eva Devon, is out today. Rafe Dorchester, Duke of Rockford, is told that it is high time to marry. His title and fortune have marked him as one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. But Rafe is not interested in marrying for the sake of producing an heir and a spare. He wants a love match and a true partner.

Charlotte Browne is an orphan. Her stepfather’s version of being a dutiful parent is forcing her to earn her daily bread as a household servant. Cruel and cold, he is not above cutting corners when it suits him. Her only solace is her friendship with her stepsister and the comfort she receives from the other household staff.

Their meet-cute is completely unexpected. He thinks that she is a lady. She cannot tell him the truth. Their first kiss opens a door to passion that cannot be contained. Charlotte accidentally drops a blue ribbon as she leaves, knowing that revealing the truth would endanger her stepsister’s chance of a good match. Despite the mystery that lies before him, Rafe is determined to discover the woman who has conquered his heart.

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I don’t read books of this nature very often because it gives false hope and teaches the wrong message about what a woman should look forward to.

That being said, I loved it. Rafe and Charlotte’s chemistry is on fire from the first time they meet. She is intelligent, independent, and caring. She is also a little jaded, which I think has been missing from previous adaptations. Rafe could have been the standard “prince charming“. But he is real, human, and fully aware of the privileges that life has afforded him. In my experience, there are very few male romantic leads in this genre that believe in social justice.

I also appreciated that Charlotte’s stepfather is not just there to be the antagonist. Though his motives and reasoning might be a bit questionable, he stands on his own two feet as a character.

The narrative is a descendant of Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). I don’t know if the author purposefully chose this path or if it slowly came about as the tale developed. Either way, it is the perfect homage to the only version of Cinderella that I think is worth watching.

I could not stop listening to the book. From the first chapter, I was immediately hooked. There were several points when I had to stop what I was doing and just listen. It is that good.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Duke’s Secret Cinderella is available wherever books are sold. Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy.

P.S. I loved the twist. I did not see it coming at all.


Throwback Thursday-Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

Cinderella is a pretty basic story. A orphaned young woman is forced to work as a servant in her own home by her stepmother after the death of her father. A fairy godmother hears this young woman’s prayers and gives the finery to go the ball, where the very eligible prince is looking for a bride. The prince and Cinderella fall in love, but she must leave by midnight, otherwise her finery returns to her every day rags.  The prince searches the land for Cinderella, but her stepmother hides her. Eventually the prince finds Cinderella and they marry, living happily ever after.

Cinderella  was originally published in 1697 by Charles Perrault and then by the Grimm brothers, which is the probably the version most of us know.

There have been many reboots of Cinderella since the 1697 publishing.

The Cinderella movie that I enjoy is Ever After. Ever After premiered in 1998, claiming to tell the real story of Cinderella.

Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is the only daughter of an aristocrat whose wife is dead. Very early into the movie, he marries Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston), who is a widow with two daughters of her own. Danielle’s father dies, spending his last few moments of life looking at his daughter. Rodmilla never forgets her husband’s choice and will spend the next ten years punishing her stepdaughter.

Flash forward to Danielle as an adult. She has been reduced to the servant of status in her own home. While one of her step-sisters, Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey) is sympathetic, her other step-sister, Marguerite (Megan Dodds) follows in her mother’s footsteps. At the castle, Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) is spoiled and acts without thinking. Danielle’s first meeting with Henry will slowly change both of their lives.

I’m not a huge fan of the fairy tale genre and Cinderella in particular. But this movie, I enjoy. I like that the setting is real, not just some random European-ish country set in the 16th or 17th centuries. I like that Danielle is extremely independent and instead of just accepting her new lot in life, she fights for what she believes in. The romance between Danielle and Henry feels real and organic. It’s not just love at first sight, it evolves out of friendship and common values. The best is the not so traditional ending, when the wicked stepmother and stepsisters finally get what is coming to them.

And did I mention that Dougray Scott looks dam good in period clothes?

I recommend this movie.

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