Squaring her shoulders as he laughed, she turned around. “You see?” she said, spreading her arms wide, trying to seem perfectly at ease when she felt as skittish as a colt.
His lashes lowered, his gaze sliding down over her plain shirtwaist and shirt in a slow perusal that did nothing to decrease her nervousness. “You seem fully dressed to me,” he murmured, meeting her gaze again, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled. “How disappointing.”
He was flirting with her. At that realization Evie’s heart gave another nervous lurch, slamming into her ribs with enough force to rob the breath from her lungs. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to notice.
Bookshop Cinderella is a swoony and charming romance.
Evie Harlow runs a quaint little bookshop in London, which is the biggest adventure an unmarried woman with no prospects could hope for. Until Maximillian Shaw, Duke of Westbourne, saunters into her shop with a proposition: to win a bet with his friends, he’ll turn her into the diamond of the season. The duke might be devilishly attractive, but Evie has no intention of accepting his ludicrous offer. When disaster strikes her shop, however, she’s left with little choice but to let herself be whisked into his high-society world.
Always happy to help a lady in distress, Max thinks he’s saving Evie from her dull spinster’s life. He’ll help her find a husband and congratulate himself on a job well done. But as shy Evie becomes the shining star he always knew she could be, she somehow steals his heart. And when her reputation is threatened, can Max convince her to choose a glittering, aristocratic life with him over the cozy comfort of her bookshop?
I was delightfully surprised at how much I loved this book. This was one of those books you start reading, and before you realize it, you are halfway through it. I just got so wrapped up in Evie and Max’s world and their love story. Bookshop Cinderella is obviously a remake of the classic Cinderella fairy tale. I love the unique and Victorian spin Laura put on the classic tale. It had banter, wit, and romance in spades. It just soothed my romantic soul. There is such a nice smooth pacing to this book. Things move along in the story at a perfect pace to keep me entertained, and I devoured all the high London society drama. I loved all the spot-on period details. It added richness to the overall story. I have to give a shout-out to Delia, Evie’s friend and Max’s cousin. She is such a delight! She has this larger-than-life personality that you can’t help being drawn to. I loved every scene she was in because of all the chaotic fun energy she brought.
Evie is a strong female protagonist, and I loved just being with her in this book. She is smart, witty, and a bookish wallflower. Evie owns her late father’s bookshop and struggles to keep things afloat. On the side, Evie does research for themed parties, and that side hustle is what leads her to cross paths with the slightly broody but very charming Max. I loved how she befuddled Max right from the very beginning. She keeps on his toes with her sharp wit, and I loved watching Max come undone by Evie’s charms. For his part, Max is everything I would want in a hero. He is sweet and swoony. Throughout the story, Max is also struggling with his own personal demons linked to his first marriage and has decided that his next marriage will not be one of love. Well, readers, we all know fate has other plans for him.
I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what trope would best describe the romance between Evie and Max, and I really can’t think of one. There is this pretty women vibe to their love story. Max sets out to win a bet against his friends by giving Evie a makeover and introducing her to society. Evie must be asked to dance to every song at Max’s ball to win the bet. Max also quickly realizes that Evie is a kind and caring person who needs a vacation. I adored everything about these two. It was sweet watching Max slowly coax Evie out of her wallflower shell, and the scenes where he teaches her how to dance are swoonastic. One of the major hurdles these two have to overcome is the class barrier. Max’s first marriage was to someone who was not titled, and it ended badly. Max swore he would never marry someone who wasn’t titled, but he eventually realizes he is in love with Evie. Evie isn’t 100% sure she wants to be a part of the upper-class world or if she wants to become a duchess. Watching this inner journey of both characters realize that there is nothing they can’t do if they work and support was heartwarming. I loved Evie’s grand gesture at the end of this book. It was charming.
Bookshop Cinderella is a satisfying Victorian romance that is hard to put down.
Thank you, Forever, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.