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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cinderella & The CEO by Maureen Child

Cinderella & The CEO by Maureen Child
Publisher: Harlequin
genre: Contemporary, holiday
Length: Full Length (184 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by: Xeranthemum

Scrooge had moved in next door and Ivy Holloway was at his mercy. Billionaire Tanner King wanted her year-round Christmas-tree farm shut down so he could have his peace and quiet. He had enough money and power to do it, too. Leaving Ivy with only one option—tame the savage beast.

Tanner had found little tranquillity thanks to his annoying neighbor. And then he found himself saddled with a gorgeous housekeeper he couldn't keep his mind—or hands—off. Trouble was, these two women were the same person…leaving the CEO wondering if he could really love his enemy.

Start off the holiday season with redeeming Scrooge by giving him a dog and a song in his heart.

Tanner is a man who needs saving and he’s surrounded by elements that seem like a conspiracy to do exactly that. He lives next to a tree farm but it’s not just any old tree farm and it is driving him barmy. Tanner is a controlled character, an isolationist who rationalizes it by saying he needs to focus on his work and he can’t have any distractions. None, nada, zip. As a romance reader I knew a cry for help when I read one and he’s shouting loud and clear. I liked how the author led a reader to gradually get to know him and to recognize the hurt child inside the man. How can a reader remain unmoved by that?

Ivy is Tanner’s tenacious, sunny and pesky neighbor. She is a woman who believes in the impossible becoming a reality. Her first love is the tree farm but she quickly takes on Tanner as a challenge. She starts off with one agenda but learns fast that she’s created a sticky wicket for herself. It creates a moral quandary for Ivy and she has to navigate which pain will be harder to handle. Eventually, as goes most romances that use this plot tool, it blows up in her face. The mark of her character is how she deals with it and Hairy the dog is the key.

Both characters are likable and entertaining. First Tanner pushes away then holds on; Ivy chases then backs off. It’s a relationship dance whose steps must navigate past hurts, misconceptions, betrayal and tentative hope before the light bulb pops on and love shines as clear as day. Tanner truly endeared himself to me because he messed up on so many levels. Everything he tried to do backfired but he didn’t quit. Yes he got hurt and the author made that clear to me. He was a man, as vulnerable as can be with only bad examples to fall back upon to make up for his errors; which of course compounded the problem.

When he made his last ditch effort to change and to reach out, a reader would be hard pressed not to be affected by such an earnest entreaty. His turnaround is what brings this tale to the forefront of quality romance. The whole scene that unfolds when he chases and catches Ivy warmed my heart and made me sigh in happiness. Finally the truth comes out and makes the happily ever after possible.

Secondary characters are Tanner’s best friend and Ivy’s grandfather. Both show up to prod the hero or heroine to think or act and move the plot along where the author needed it to go. Others are the tree farm workers and some of the town residents. Ms. Child used them all in an effective manner to impart a sense of close community which actually played as another key motivation in the story.

Cinderella & the CEO is a romantic entertaining read that will bring smiles and sighs to readers and fans of love’s redemptive powers. Tanner and Ivy’s relationship will touch heartstrings as the hero is brought back into the land of the living and he rediscovers the joy that the Christmas holiday is all about. The positive and optimistic emotion it brings forth isn’t for one season but for all year long and this reader enjoyed being reminded of that. I’d recommend reading this story just for the sheer fun of it.