The Cinderella Project by Stan Crowe is the first book in the A Comedy of Love series. It follows doctoral student Nick Cairn, who is writing his dissertation on the secrets of everlasting love. Nick is engaged to what seems to be the perfect girl, and disillusioned by his parents’ apparent loveless marriage, Nick is determined to discover the recipe for a perfect marriage in order to secure the success of his own. When smart and sassy Moiré de Lanthe walks into his lab and informs Nick that she is his new research assistant, Nick’s happily ever after is put to the ultimate test.
For reasons Nick is not willing to explore, he finds himself reluctant to let Moiré know that he is off the market; but when spending time with Moiré becomes Nick’s favourite part of the day, he must face the truth: He is very attracted to a woman who is not his fiancée – a woman he is now sharing hours and hours of romantic situations with; for his research, right?
Moiré de Lanthe has spent a large part of her life watching her step-sister, Ella, toy with men before coolly discarding them. Ella is strikingly beautiful and a master-manipulator – a deadly combination when let loose on the average man. Moiré even lost her best friend to Ella’s man-eating-ways, and when Ella gets her hooks into the guy Moiré has been admiring from afar, Moiré vows to put an end to Ella’s endless scheming. Moiré establishes herself as a steady fixture in Nick Cairn’s life, determined to help him realise that marrying Ella would be a mistake.
With his wedding date looming ever closer, and his suddenly neurotic fiancée repeatedly moving the wedding date up even more, Nick starts to feel confused and anxious. The more time Nick spends with Moiré, the less certain he is that Ella is the girl of his dreams after all. Where Ella is demanding and high-maintenance, Moiré is supportive and easy-going. Where Ella is suspicious and confrontational, Moiré is fun-loving and comforting. And is it his imagination, or is he suddenly noticing Ella having a roving eye? Is his mind playing tricks on him, or is he finally learning truths about Ella that rose-coloured-glasses had kept concealed?
But how will Nick react when he discovers the truth - that Moiré knew of his engagement all along, and that she had been hoping he would call the wedding off? Will he trust her motives when he realises she wants him for herself? More importantly, being taught by his father from an early age that the mark of a man is how well he keeps his commitments, will Nick risk disappointing his father and failing the moral code he is determined to live by, by breaking the ultimate commitment to the one he once was so sure was the woman of his dreams?
I decided to read The Cinderella Project because I was in the mood for something light, and the Kindle edition was free on Amazon at the time. I did not expect a fantastic read, but I was quite pleasantly surprised. The book might not be perfect, but I found it enjoyable and just what I was looking for. It was interesting reading a book from the hero’s point of view (though I wish there were chapters on Moiré’s point of view too), but I think this book would have been even better written in a third person narrative. I enjoy knowing all the characters’ thoughts. If I have to read a first person narrative, I prefer to read the heroine’s – someone I can relate to. Having said that, it was quite refreshing experiencing a story from the hero’s perspective.
I have to say though, that as for the first book in the A Comedy of Love series, I did not find this book comedic. In fact, I don't think I laughed once. Also, I mentioned in my summary what Moiré's intentions are. In the book it is supposed to be a shocking revelation near the end, but for whatever reason I made the connection as soon as Ella's "evil step-sister" was mentioned; I am sure most readers will pick this up relatively early too.
I really like Nick and I had empathy with his plight. I like that he is a good guy who sees the best in people, and who is trying to do the right thing. Moiré is lovely as well, and I wish there was more of her in the book. I especially like that even though she knows Ella is wrong for Nick, she never tempts him to cheat on Ella - she merely makes him realise that he is not truly happy with Ella. Even though she deliberately places herself in Nick's life to stop him from making the mistake of marrying Ella, she doesn't go about it in a manipulative fashion. Ella is the perfect antagonist - maybe too good of an antagonist. For the life of me I could not figure out why Nick was so stubbornly clinging to this relationship. For the reader it is so obvious that Ella is a devious manipulator, and it is so frustrating to watch him reject Moiré's every tentative advance.
I always find it a plus when details make a book believable. I especially enjoyed details about Nick’s research and dissertation. I’ve often said details make a book great, and I enjoyed the realistic inclusion of Nick’s studies.
While it's not one of my favourite books this year, The Cinderella Project is a lovely light read. It would have gotten a three star rating if there had been more of Moiré, but as it is I was just a tad annoyed by too much Ella.
Title: The Cinderella Project
Author: Stan Crowe
Number of pages: 244
Publisher: Breezy Reads