Locating her is only half the battle.
Cyrus Ryland didn't become England's wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around at his grand ball enflames his curiosity. When the clock chimes midnight, and she's nowhere to be found, Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is. Little does he know that not only does Claire Mayhew not want to be found, but she wants nothing to do with him at all....
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Charming Fractured Re-Telling of Cinderella!
While there are similarities to Cinderella's tale, Gina has put her own stamp on the classic fairy tale leaving the reader with an original, unique treat. For instance, as the clock strikes the midnight hour, Claire disappears, reminiscent of Cinderella; Claire loses a shoe as she flees the ball - but her wayward shoe is a well-worn working-woman's shoe, not a glass slipper. Gina's stunningly sensual descriptions of the scenes, detailed descriptions of the clothing, the weather, and more make the reader feel that they are right there. The epilogue was a satisfying treasure that tied up all the loose ends and left me with a huge smile on my face.
My favorite character was Claire. I appreciated her independence in England's Georgian era when this tale was set. During the time in which this tale occurred, independent businesswomen were frowned upon as women were not considered worthy of operating a business nor of making decisions on their own without a man. Also... instead of two blue-bloods finding romance, I liked that Gina included the emerging middle class in the mix epitomized by Claire and others in the tale. This is not to take away from Marian's voicing of Cyrus. I loved watching how his interactions with Claire make him re-examine his thoughts on women in business.
She did an awesome job voicing each of the characters. I didn't really have a favorite.
I was taken back by the fight scene. I don't remember ever reading of one in England's Georgian era and I found it fascinating. It was a twist that I never ever saw coming. If you want to know how it came about, you'll have to read the story!
Marian Hussey, the narrator, did an awesome job of bringing the characters to life. She also narrated the first book in this series and I'm so glad that she returned for this installment. Her voice makes it very easy to differentiate between the characters; It's very clear and her accents and mannerisms enhanced this delightful tale. I would not hesitate to pick up other books narrated by Marian Hussey.
- Linda Townsend
Stealing doesn't pay or does it?
A London, mid-town girl, Claire Mayhew, very much genteel, but without pedigree, tries her hand as a business woman. Women aren’t suppose to do this sort of thing in 1768, nor could she lease an establishment until she had the written sign-off from the landlord, one Cyrus Ryland gentleman who owns said location of her want-to-be coffee shop. At a masquerade ball he is hosting, she sneaks into his home with the help of some of his servants who knew her when she was in service to an earl. She stealthily enters his study, traces his signature and using this ‘permission’ will provide necessary approval to Cyrus Ryland's property manager. She would then be able to start her coffee shop and get on with taking care of herself.
But she didn’t leave his home unscathed. Cyrus Ryland hated to play the part of the wealthy. But he decided long ago he would protect his family, somehow erasing their common beginnings. His younger sister needed to marry well, providing the title that entitles her to continue in Polite Society. He has nephews he needed to see well settled. When he entered his study for a breather from the crowds and mamas presenting him their daughters, he found lovely Claire Mayhew. She intrigued him like no other, nor was she intimidated by him as was usually the case with women he knew. She was a bit bold in manner (a light skirt, perhaps?) with a playful sense of humor. What could Claire do? She had to play the game she was a guest. Thank God the mask gave her some anonymity. By midnight she was able to dash away from the ball, with mask intact, leaving several clues. Her shoe had fallen from her foot in the escape, her cloak was found behind his home close to the kitchens and a scar on her hand.
Starting out as a bit of a familiar fairy tale, I was captured. Would Claire’s prince find her and would the clues help him? Were the Bow Street Runners clever enough to locate her?
Claire Mayhew didn’t have a chance. She was dealing with Cyrus Ryland who always got what he wanted. Although, he wasn’t sure what he would do to her/with her once she was located.
This story takes Cyrus on a journey of discovery not only about Claire, but of himself. He, all his life, had protected those he loved. Claire, at 26, was independent, not afraid to work and had real satisfaction in her new business. Cyrus learned to respect her work ethic, very much his own and soon found he had to protect her, too, for that was his way. He didn’t know when he began to love her. Claire wanted NOT to be drawn to this man, beautiful in and out. Her business came first, but the best laid plans...
Claire was way out of her element with Cyrus’s attention. Both Claire and Cyrus had flaws, for no one is ever perfect. Their recognition and acceptance of them only deepened their connection. Claire was adorable in nature with a wish to improve the world. She would not rely on men. Her French friend Juliette, shop owner and seamstress close by, was a wonderful friend albeit rather sensuous, playing the devil, telling her a daillance with Cyrus was not a bad idea. It would put color into her cheeks.
Narrator and actor Marian Hussey was a pleasure to listen to. Her voice for men was believable. I particularly enjoyed her depiction of Juliette with her heavy-accented English, Claire’s prim and proper demeanor, Nate, a boy coming from the east end of town, working in Claire’s coffee shop, Anna, her friend and loyal companion, Lord Melborne, a duke, who couldn’t sound more bored.
Author Gina Conkle has written a humorous, poignant love story which will warm your heart. It certainly did mine. It entertained with suspense, poignant and deep love, and humor where the hero and heroine find what truly is valuable and important in life.
I hope to continue my discovery of this author by continuing this series.
- BOOKTALK WITH EILEEN