When the temperatures near 100 degrees, summer has officially arrived; a perfect “beach read” to enjoy and celebrate summer weather is “Cinder-Nanny” by Sariah Wilson. In spite of its title, this delightful, light romance doesn’t contain actual magic; but the romance between two unlikely individuals is clever and touching. And while both main characters are devoted to their families, the families they come from are anything but normal.
Diana Parker is a fraud. In a way, she takes after her mother, who is spending decades in prison after defrauding a series of men out of their life savings. Diana has tried to be different, and her fraudulent activity is only because of the most dire circumstances. And she feels guilty every minute—or almost. Diana pretended to have numerous, detailed qualifications in order to get a very well-paying job as a nanny for three months in Aspen. However, we learn Diana is not proficient in French, she is not an expert skier, she does not have an advanced degree in child development, nor is she in any way a math teacher. She does like children, and her sister Alice has two children whom Diana adores. So maybe that’s enough?
The reason Diana breaks the promise she made to her sister that she would never lie (as their mother did) is because Alice desperately needs surgery and, through a series of horrible events, is not covered by insurance. Alice will die without the surgery, hence Diana’s desperate attempt to do whatever is necessary to get the $40,000 for the operation. And that’s exactly what the job pays for three months of Diana’s time.
What Diana doesn’t count on is that the people she works for, the Crawfords, are wonderful and treat her like family. That only makes her feel worse about lying to them. But when she ends up attending a charity dinner wearing Sheila Crawford’s dress and slightly too-big shoes, she meets a member of British royalty, Griffin Windsor, and the two click. Diana is determined not to allow the hormones and the attraction that they both definitely feel to flourish because every relationship she has had in the past has ended badly. And there’s the fact that Griffin, an earl (for heaven’s sake), is only in Aspen for a few weeks. After that, he will be returning home, and Diana can’t imagine any way in which she would continue to be a part of the kind of life he leads.
Of course, there’s also the fact that he doesn’t know she is really a nanny and not just a friend of the Crawfords, as she had implied. Much less could he know that she comes from a disreputable family, doesn’t know who her father is, has a mother in prison, and even sports a “phony” name because it isn’t based on anything except that her mother made it up thinking it sounded classy.
The one thing that Diana does know is that in no real world does the prince marry the nanny. Even though he’s not really a prince, just close.
Wilson cleverly plays on the fact that while Diana can borrow Sheila’s dresses because they are the same size, Sheila’s shoes are a bit large, and they tend to fall off Diana’s feet (ala Cinderella). While there’s no actual magic in the pages of the story, there is a bit of magic in Wilson’s ability to weave a sweet tale of two people, each of whom needs what the other has to offer. Will Diana be able to trust Griffin with her heart after a lifetime of being hurt? Will Griffin find the strength to buck tradition—and his very rigid grandmother, who also controls the family money—to follow his heart? No sad endings in this fairy(ish) tale of love.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.