Cinderella Christmas
by Shelley Galloway
(Harl. American #1090, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-373-75094-3
***
Pure sentiment and fantasy, Cinderella Christmas is one of those stories that wonít stay with you long, but is pretty cute while you are reading it.

The Cinderella in the title is Brooke Anne Kessler, the owner of the Jovial Janitor Company, who is filling in for one of her employees. She is cleaning the offices of a hotel company when she walks in on an executive named Morgan Carmichael.

Morganís date just cancelled for the all-important fancy company Christmas party. He is lamenting the loss of the date and worried how this will make him look in front of the whole company. He also mentions that no one can dance anymore. Brooke Anne tries to console him by saying she can dance and the next thing she knows she has a date. She agrees to let him pay for new clothes and shoes and pay her for her time. He has misunderstood her role and assumes she is a lowly janitor and that her last name is Anne.

Brooke agrees to this silliness because a) she wants this great new pair of sandals she saw in an expensive shop window and b) she wants to use the money to pay bonuses to her staff. This money will keep her from dipping into her savings.

The story is predictable. The date goes well until the end (close to midnight) when Morganís original date shows up thinking to save him from embarrassment. He leaves the room with her to avoid a scene but Brooke (helped by a snide woman) assumes he has decided to reunite and leave her on her own. She has slipped her shoes off and realizes too late that she canít retrieve them and save face, so she heads home. When Morgan comes back, Brooke is gone and all he has left is her shoes. The search is on.

Morgan is basically a cold and calculating man whose secretary is trying to get him to warm up. Predictably, it was his upbringing that has made him this way, but underneath lies a warm, sensitive man just waiting to be tapped. Brooke is his key. Brooke, on the other hand, is a dreamer who was publicly dumped by an old boyfriend in her hometown and she is trying recover so that she can trust a man again. No new ground here or with how they resolve their issues.

There are a couple of issues with the story that almost ruin it. One is that much of the action takes place when they are apart. Their only real night of getting to know each other is at the ball. And Brooke thinks much of what happened was an illusion that she wanted to feel, but that Morgan didnít. The good thing is their method of communicating by notes, which is a cute plot device.

Another issue is that Morgan searches high and low and even goes to the shoe store where Brooke bought the shoes. Brooke had developed a relationship with the owner and the set up was for a nice little scene where he plays fairy godmother. Instead, this little search did not play into the resolution at all. It was disappointing.

Overall, however, Cinderella Christmas is a light fantasy about falling in love at almost first sight and finding the man and woman of oneís dreams. If you accept it for that and overlook the flaws, it is a nice way to spend a few hours.

Shirley Lyons

--NAME HERE


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