Wednesday 16 June 2021

If The Shoe Fits

Finished June 11
If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

This is the first book in a new series called Meant to Be. This is a romance novel that breaks a few norms. It is loosely based on the Cinderella story, but doesn't follow many of the expected lines. The main character here, Cindy Woods, is a plus-sized beauty. She has just finished her fashion degree at the Parsons School in New York City, specializing in shoe design. Cindy's mom, Ilene, died when she was a kid, and her father Simon remarried to a powerful media producer a few years later. Her stepmom, Erica, has two daughters just slightly older than Cindy, Anna and Drew, and although they ran in different groups in school, they treated each other in a friendly and respectful way. When Simon died suddenly in Cindy's senior year of high school, all three girls were hit hard as Simon was the homebody, the one that provided an anchor and this loss brought them closer. No evil stepsisters here. Anna and Drew are only 9 months apart in age, look like twins, and have begun a career as Instagram influencers. There are also three younger siblings, Mary, Gus, and Jack, triplets that were born through a surrogate planned before Simon's death and carried through after. 
Cindy thought she'd done her grieving at the time of her dad's death, but when her stepmother moved house last year, and all the accumulated possessions were gone through, Cindy found herself hit hard again. Her last year at Parsons wasn't as successful as she'd hoped, which is why she hasn't got plans now, other than to nanny the triplets until a more permanent solution is found. 
Even before Erica and Simon married, Cindy was a fan of one of the reality shows that Erica produced, Before Midnight, a bachelor-type show where a man was set up with multiple women and sent on dates, narrowing it down through the series to a woman that he would then marry. The new season is about to start production and when a couple of women drop out last minute, Anna, Drew, and Cindy get drafted in to take their places. For all of them, this will give some more media exposure, helpful to Anna and Drew in their Instagram influencer roles, and Cindy to highlight some of her fashion creations. Erica worries about the possibility that Cindy will attract negative attention, but Cindy isn't phased.
Cindy's best friend was her roommate at Parsons, Sierra, and she is already missing her even as she returns home to sort herself out and decide where her career lies. The two women talk often and the sudden decision to join the show means that they won't be able to connect for a few weeks. 
When Cindy discovers that the male lead on the show is a man she's met briefly before, things start to get real. 
I loved Cindy's character, she's witty and fun, and a caring person, but not one people can walk all over. She makes friends easily and bonds pretty quickly with some of the other women on the show. We see how, despite the rivalry that naturally exists, people make connections and work together on things. I don't watch reality television, or much of any television really, but this felt a lot more interesting when you learn some of the backstories to the characters that have signed up for the show. 
The writing pops and there is lots of humour and emotional connections with the plot. A fun read.

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