Normally, I like Jennifer Crusie. She can be counted on for some mad-cap adventures, a hot guy or two, and a girl who is kind of a mess but fiercely independent. She's chick lit, but she's usually pretty good chick lit. Perfect for an audio book. But The Cinderella Deal left me feeling pretty disenchanted.
Daisy Flattery is a free spirited unemployed artist, struggling to make ends meet and struggling to make her paintings speak. Her apartment is a riot of color, and she has an illegal cat. Linc Blaise is a no-nonsense professor, rigid in both his dress and his demeanor. His apartment, directly above Daisy's, is black and white and silver, all modern chrome and hard edges, and he hates Daisy's cat. When Linc needs a stand-in fiancee, he offers to pay Daisy's rent for the month so that she can pose as his girlfriend to him get a job at a nearby college. Daisy agrees, and Linc gets the job.
But when Linc arrives at the college with the cover story that he and Daisy "just didn't work out", the dean forces him back to get Daisy, and suddenly, he and Daisy are on their way to the altar. Linc and Daisy agree to make the marriage work for the school year, giving Daisy a chance to get out of town and concentrate on her art without having to worry about how to pay the bills, and freeing Linc up to work on his book. Of course, Daisy and Linc are meant to fall in love and discover their true feelings at the eleventh hour, and true to form, that's what happens. Daisy discovers she likes Linc's rules and rigidity and Linc discovers how much he wants the crazy artist with the wild hair. And they should live happily ever after.
Except, by the end of the book, by the time they discover their true love, I didn't really care. Daisy, who wasn't all that fiercely independent but was definitely a mess, had become a faded carbon copy of herself, weak and almost Stepford wife-ish. And Linc, never exactly a bastion of sexuality, felt boring and even more rigid than in the beginning of the novel. Clearly, these are two people who are destined only to have sex missionary style and only on Saturday nights. Which is fine if that's your deal, but I expect more from a romance novel. Plus, the whole subtext that Daisy needed a man to take care of her, to pay her bills, was just a little bit more than I could stomach. I need my romance novel heroines to be a little bit more independent.
I still like Crusie, but this one missed the mark big time.