Cinderella's Wedding Wish by Jessica Hart
The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Romance #4084, 2009, Out of Print, Available Digitally
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: Hart is probably my most favorite author in the Harlequin Romance universe. She's an autobuy. This was one of her backlist titles I picked up when I "discovered" her with a later 2009 release.
The Review: I like category romance for a lot of reasons, but it's hard to deny that it's a format that is laden with tropes. So for this month's Favorite Trope theme, I decided to go into my Harlequin TBR and read the first book that caught my eye. Lo and behold, this Jessica Hart was right on top and it's a Boss/Secretary book! Yes, yes - I'm part of the problem. I love Boss/Secretary books. I know, I know! Don't hate the player, hate the game. Turns out though this really isn't a Boss/Secretary romance - it's more general office romance with some Cinderella and Fake Relationship tossed into the blender.
Miranda Fairchild is the plain middle child, while her two sisters are raving beauties. Miranda left college to try to save the family business (a department store) but it was too late. The damage was done, her father having ignored the signs of impending doom for far too long. Her younger sister's answer to this little problem is to try to bag a rich husband (older sister is already married), while ever practical Miranda goes the old fashioned route. Yeah, she finds a job. The problem is her resume isn't all that impressive (the stored died on her watch after all), so she's working as a temp at the Knighton group and working evenings at a friend's catering business.
Rafe Knighton is an only child, a reformed bad boy that still managed to inherit the family business even though his father disapproved of him (ultimately though Daddy did leave him the company). The problem is that even though he's "grown up," Rafe cannot shake his reputation. It's while walking the halls of his company that he meets Miranda accosting an uncooperative copy machine (girl, I'm been there...) and he's taken with her. Her temp assignment is almost up, and Rafe knows she's just the woman he needs....to help him find a wife. He asks her to organize a charity gala to help him look for a potential spouse. Someone intelligent, accomplished, and beautiful certainly wouldn't hurt. He's ready to settle down and certainly a wife will convince everyone (the press, his own board of directors etc.) that he's no longer a "bad boy."
Eventually Rafe's plan to land a wife has him turning to Miranda to pose as a temporary/fake fiancee, but there's tap-dancing to get through first. We all know what happens next, they soon learn there is more to the other one than meets the eye.
This is pretty much standard issue, right down to Miranda hiding behind an ill-fitting, less-than-flattering wardrobe. While Miranda certainly stacks up with her sisters in the looks department, she never saw herself that way so...why even bother? Rafe is drop-dead gorgeous but has never been given much credit in the brains department because of his reputation.
This is a very pleasant, straight-forward and sweet romance. There's one off-page sex scene and there's some nice chemistry between the main characters. But this all sounds like damning with faint praise, doesn't it? That's because it kind of is. I hate to judge an author by previous (and future) work, but this one doesn't have the emotional gut-punch I've experienced with other books by Hart. Don't get me wrong, it's nice. It's a good, solid, romantic read. But it didn't leave me swooning or weepy like a lot of her other books have.
But there's nothing wrong with straight-forward and honestly, this is not "bad." It's a good, pleasant read that I tore through in a couple of sittings. It's just nowhere near the best of what Hart can showcase in the Harlequin Romance format. Good, but not a favorite and not the first book I would recommend to a newbie by this author.
Final Grade = B-