Cinderella with werewolves... count me in! At just under 200 pages, Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream was a delightful bedtime story harkening back to childhood memories of fairy tales. [goodreads review]
In a kingdom where wolves are feared by the people and protected by the monarchy, a young woman struggles to find her place in the world and in her own family. With both parents dead, Loupe has no one but her step-mother and two step-sisters to care for her, but just like in the traditional Cinderella tale, not all is as it seems. Loupe lives in nothing short of misery, day in and day out. Until one day, she meets Prince Etienne.
Due to this being a re-imagining of a classic fairy tale, the plot was pretty straight forward. Lonely girl meets Prince, falls quickly in love, runs away, looses slipper, slipper fits, gets married and lives happily ever after. When you throw in werewolves it becomes a bit more complicated, and delightfully so. Loupe and Prince Etienne meet long before the ball and their interactions reinforce the romance between the two characters in a way that makes the ending sacrifices all the stronger in the end. This series also has some added depth in the form of the prologue and epilogue. A mysterious being is using the Princes and we get to watch it unfold.
Unlike the Disney version on Cinderella, the Prince is not just a pretty boy who needs to find a bride... well he is, but he's also more than that and thankfully there are some scenes that are from his perspective. Seeing the royal family interactions as well as Loupe's interactions with them gave more depth to the characters and provided a way for the reader to connect.
I have to admit, I'm struggling with this review a bit. While there is nothing glaringly wrong with the story, in fact I really enjoyed it, I'm not able to give it an additional star to bring it up to four. For whatever reason, the story was enjoyable, easy to read and a great bargain, but it didn't knock my socks of and leave me scrabbling for the next one.