Cinderella for a Night by Susan Mallery
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1029, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27099-2
In July 1997, Silhouette kicked off its ď36 Hours That Changed EverythingĒ Series. By the time the series concluded in June of 1998, twelve authors had written about different aspects of the troubles faced by the residents of Grand Springs, Colorado, when a power failure produced a 36-hour blackout in that community.

Now, three years later, some of these same inhabitants are attending a charity ball sponsored by wealthy magnate Jonathan Steele. In a most unpleasant confrontation, Jonathan gives his brother, David, one last chance to return the money he has embezzled. David laughs in his face, and boasts that he will survive Jonathan by many years and inherit it all.

As he leaves the event, Jonathan collides with Cynthia Morgan, who is costumed as Cinderella for the evening. Cynthia is there on a gift ticket, but is in attendance mainly to thank Jonathan for the grant program that had made her start up nanny service a viable business. Her innocence and understated beauty appeal to Jonathan, and they are talking in the alcove when once again the lights go out in Grand Springs.

When the lights come on, it is David and his wife who are found dead. Jonathan and the police end up at the station, and Cynthia follows them to comfort him.

At the station Cynthia worms her way into the interview room by carrying a cup of coffee someone has said that Jonathan wants. He, of course, didnít request it, and when she starts sipping it instead, only minutes elapse before she is doubled over in pain and then unconscious.

Her very closely-knit loving family congregates in the hospital waiting room and Jonathan is shamed into sticking around. By this time people have figured out the poison was meant for him, so he does feel some responsibility.

And responsibility becomes the by-word, as Social Services comes to remind him that his brother had an infant son Jonathan has never seen and that he is the sole surviving relative and must assume the responsibility. Cynthia recovers in time to lend aid and assistance in the form of her nanny service. Jonathan insists that she not one of her employees be the temporary live-in nanny. Cynthia falls in love with Jonathan and the book is devoted to teaching Jonathan the meaning of love.

It is not the teaching of love to Jonathan that is problematic but the manner in which it is done. It was enough of a stretch that Cynthia (also known as Cindy) went to the ball as Cinderella and met her tall dark stranger who left the ball around midnight. But then when her nanny services were required, she morphed, not into Mary Poppins, but into Pollyanna. A Pollyanna who confronted and mastered every situation with sweetness, sweetness, sweetness, leaving this story with the substance of spun sugar. (Indeed, the author makes written references to Pollyanna.)

A lot of Jonathanís bitterness is stated, restated, and then restated introspectively, which is also wearing. In my kitchen, vinegar always melts sugar. It boggles the mind to think how much sugar it would take to absorb the vinegar in this tale. Unfortunately, the author found that formula in Cinderella for a Night.

This is a continuing series, so Davidís murder and the involvement of the FBI in a local murder remain to be addressed.

--Thea Davis

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