Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ella's Will - Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Summary: Will Hawkins is just a mere stable boy. How can he ever think to woo Ella, his once-wealthy childhood friend who is stubbornly independent, especially when his competition is the prince? Without any magic or fairy godmothers, Will must show Ella that he is her true prince charming in this perspective twist of the Cinderella story. (Summary and image from goodreads.com.  I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  We know the story of Cinderella.  But what if there was no fairy godmother to make everything right?  What if there was just a sweet, strong-willed girl, a kind and ignorant village, and her best friend—a former stableboy of her father’s, now working for the king, who just happens to be desperately in love with her?

I loved, loved Peaslee’s retelling of the classic Cinderella story.  I loved the depth and the humanity she brought to her characters, the sweet moral of her story (which, refreshingly, wasn’t a pretty dress and cute shoes will get you all your heart desires), and the best possible ending I could have hoped for.  We’re revisiting the story in this novel, but this time watching it unfold from the eyes of Will, the stableboy and Ella’s best friend.  (Think Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun, but not hacked and leaked online.)

As a standalone novel, this is cute.  It’s sweet, it introduces a new dynamic into the story, delving into the lives of the servants charged with pulling off a  kingdom-wide ball in a week, the havoc such a ball wreaks on the lives of betrothed couples in the kingdom, and the hopes, dreams, and fears of a relatively minor character in the first novel. I loved that side of it.  Again, Peaslee has a real talent for fleshing out a character quite quickly and efficiently.

But.

I don’t know if it’s because I enjoyed the first novel so much, but this one disappointed a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Will.  I love his humor, his perceptive nature, his personal goals to be a gentleman, even if he’s not born into the breed. But he simpers.  He is so desperately, hopelessly, idiotically in love with Ella that she got on my nerves a bit in this book. Will, frankly, has a coke-bottle-thick set of Love Goggles on, in super extra thick strength.  Unfortunately, it cheapened the story for me having a main character who could see the worst in everyone but his ONE TRUE LOVE, who is perfect and has the tiniest feet ever in the whole wide universe of feet.  Because they’re tiny.  Did I mention how tiny they are? (Will, it seems, is a little fixated on little feet.)

I’ve recommended Ella to every mom I know with a tween or up girl in the house.  I don’t know if I could recommend this book as heartily, but if they asked what I thought, I could honestly say it’s cute.  I don’t regret reading it, but I wish it had toned down the mushy-gushy and dialed up the secondary characters’ storylines.  

Rating:  Three stars

For the Sensitive Reader: There are scenes that could be triggers for those sensitive to abuse.  There’s a perpetually drunk and lecherous character (don’t worry, he gets his reward), but that’s about it.  This would be a solid PG in the movie world.  

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