Author: Marina Myles
Publisher: Kensington Books
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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 château in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!
The château 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?
Review: This was a surprisingly delightful version of the Cinderella fairy tale with a time-travel element to give it a new twist and I really enjoyed it! Descriptive prose and realistic character development worked together to give a modern feel to this age-old tale of the beautiful, orphaned daughter left with a cruel stepmother and stepsisters who treated her like a slave and made her feel not only unwelcome in her own home but in her own skin. And the inevitable but surprising twist at the end gave a HEA that anyone would love. Kismet, meet time-travel.
When the story opens, Ella Benoit is taking care of her dying stepmother even though the woman and her daughters had treated Ella like crap since her father’s death. She’d had to live on scraps and hand-me-downs while her stepmother and stepsisters had lived in style, blowing her father’s vast fortune on themselves. Now there was only debt and an empty mansion. The two stepsisters had flown the coop long before, and when the news of their mother’s illness reached them, they refused to come back to nurse her. It was left up to Ella to take care of her–and she hated Ella for it. It’s a special kind of hell taking care of a dying parent, and it was especially difficult for Ella since her stepmother was so resentful–never thanking her or even speaking to her at the end. Thank goodness it was over. But how was she to support herself? Where was she to go?
Thankfully her father had provided for her in his will, and left her a château in France along with some funds to refurbish it and live there. Since that’s where her parents had met and her mother had been French, it was a welcome gift and she was so excited to leave California and head for a new adventure and a new life. Dusting off the stepsisters was going to be harder than she realized, however.
Sometimes being an asshole supersedes time, and Jean-Daniel Girard had been a super asshole. However, right before his death in 1703, he’d started to turn around. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in time to stop his murder. Dying so abruptly caused his spirit to hover over the scene of his death, waiting for it to be solved so that he could finally cross over to the other side. Unfortunately this created a dilemma for the current owners of the château and the small town that surrounded it. Having a haunted chateau in the neighborhood didn’t have quite the cachet it used to, apparently, and people preferred updated electricity and running water to apparitions appearing nightly. Jean-Daniel feared his days were numbered and since the mansion hadn’t been inhabited in quite some time and he fed off of electrical currents, he was quite weak and couldn’t show himself to Ella when she finally arrived. For he knew she was returning to him after three hundred years–returning to the scene of their burgeoning love affair and to help him cross over and for them to be together forever. He was a little hazy on how but he knew she was the key.
When Ella arrived at the château she had a feeling of deja vu, and kept looking for a large painting. When she finally found it she had it returned to the downstairs drawing room. The uncanny feeling she got from the eyes of the handsome Jean-Daniel in the huge portrait gave her the heebie jeebies, and what’s more? She kept having dreams about him and what seemed like their life in the past…the very distant past. What did it mean? And why did she feel his presence so acutely?
The writing is so clever. The author incorporates the elements of the traditional fairy tale into this modern story in such a common sense manner that it’s never contrived or insincere. Always delightful and funny, never too much, the character development and pace are perfect and the description of the château and the characters surrounding the couple are perfect. Read it if you love the reconstructed fairy tales but know that this one has an extra-special twist–time travel, pre-destination, and a handsome French comte who’s waited for his love for over three hundred years. Je t’adore!