Cinderella and The Ghost (The Cursed Princes book #4) by Marina Myles
Overview by Netgalley:
A DANGEROUS ATTRACTION
When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!
The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams.
The story of Cinderella has continued to fascinate us since the European myth began. With the publication of Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon in 1697, it captured the attention of centuries. The reason I think this story is so enduring is the moral lessons it imbues. The concept of good triumphing over bad is one that all people enjoy reading about. Life isn’t fair and that is a lesson we learn in childhood. For every person that has been unjustly treated, the story of the cinder girl is a message of hope. Its hope that with enough patience, perseverance and fortitude one can overcome the wrongs done to them. The Cinderella story also relies on the support and help from others. Cinderella had her fairy godmother to help her at the most dire moments. How many times have you wished to have someone help you when facing insurmountable odds? It is a reminder that we must help others and put an end to tyrannical behaviour. When I think of Cinderella, it is impossible not to think of the Disney classic, but this novel has created a new narrative for me. This story takes the classic and makes it into a real life, tangible story that has passion, adventure and steamy moments. It even comes with a pair of beautiful glass shoes to complete the story.
What I loved about this story was that it was part historical romance and contemporary novel. It was a Cinderella story and at times a Gothic novel. I could immediately make parallels to the Cinderella story, yet it felt fresh and new because of the contemporary story. It was pretty scary at some parts when Ella gets to the Chateau and meets the portrait of Jean-Daniel. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when the hauntings began. I despise paranormal movies – I refuse to watch them period. But although this was frightening, the machinations of Jean-Daniel were out of love and hope. He desperately needs to communicate with Ella to come back in time and save him from his fate.
I just finished another time travel historical romance novel, so I am really starting to get into the genre. This book was different because it takes place away from England, like the majority of historical romance novels. It was interesting to learn about French culture and society at the time of Louis the ‘Sun God’. I laughed out loud at the intrepid Ella googling time travel theories once she figured out what the ghost wanted of her.
Ella was a wonderful character to read. She has been dominated by her step mother and step sisters since her father died. She has given up her life to fulfill a promise to her father to take care of her menacing step mother. Once Adelaide passes, Ella is free to live her life on her own terms. We learn that she loves to cook, but put those dreams on hold, while her ugly step sisters frittered away their lives doing what they wanted. Not only is Ella beautiful outside, she is kind and compassionate inside. She longs to belong to a family and to a man who loves her. She is the survivor of a sexual assault as a teenager and is very nervous of men. However one man who completely captures her attention is Jean-Daniel. I didn’t blame her for lusting after the beautiful man in the portrait. Knowing Jean-Daniel’s ghostly thoughts, I was so excited for the adventure that Ella would be embarking upon.
Jean-Daniel is explored as a character before Ella travels back in time. We know his thoughts, his feelings and frustrations. He was essentially a playboy Viscomte during his time, but all that changed when he met Ella. He fell in love like a ‘thunderbolt’ striking him. He is as beautiful as a god, with a hard body and piercing eyes. He meets Ella as a servant in his home, but can’t stay away from her even though there is a rule that nobility can’t marry a lower class. What I loved about Jean-Daniel was that he TRULY loved Ella. It wasn’t just a physical response, but he took the time to get to know her and loved the woman beneath the beautiful exterior. I adored that he was willing to give up everything, including his responsibilities to the people of France, just to be happy with her.
Obviously with a book that features ghosts, time travel and cursed Egyptian artifacts, you have to suspend belief. That is not a problem with this story. I found it captivating and heart wrenching. I loved the many different elements of this story. I found the haunting of Ella by Jean-Daniel creepy, but rewarding. The experience Ella has back in time were so beautifully developed and described, I felt like I was walking through the lavender fields myself. This story achingly explores hope, tragedy and love with a depth that most books lack. I feel so fortunate that I found this book to read and I really, really couldn’t put it down. It was a fresh take on a classic story with lovely characters that made me believe in love that spans centuries and the hope that all is never truly lost.