Review: Before the Midnight Bells (Once Upon A Romance #1) by Jessica Woodard

Book Blurb

Eleanor Emberton isn't sitting around waiting for a handsome prince to rescue her. In fact, she's determined to save not only herself, but her whole family from her stepmother's headlong plunge into financial ruin. When she meets a mysterious man at the ball, romance is the last thing on her mind, but she can't help feeling an instant attraction. Before long she finds herself head over heels for her charming suitor. So what if he's left out a few teeny, tiny details?

Before the Midnight Bells is a fresh look at the Cinderella story, with humor, intrigue, and a healthy dose of passion

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Toot's Review by Stacy Sabala

In this first book in the Once Upon a romance series, Ella’s father dies twelve years ago and she has been taking care of her stepmother and stepsisters since then.  Unfortunately her step mother spends frivolously and her family is on the verge of losing their home.  Ella has opened a dress making shop.  She is determined to save her family.
Max’s father is a duke and his best friend is a princess.  Princess Vivienne has talked him into a wild scheme.  They are betrothed, at least kind of.  As a result balls are being held to celebrate the news.  Max meets Ella at the first ball.  They hang out at the food table in an out of the way room hiding from the crowd.  They have fun and hit it off.  Ella has no clue who he really is though.  Max almost ruins everything.
This was a great story.  I love the fact that Ella is loved by her stepmother and stepsisters.  She isn’t abused.  She is just the one that keeps the family afloat.  Her character is smart and talented.  The author gave her independence and a job.  I liked her instantly and rooted for her throughout the book.
Max was caught in a bad situation.  He didn’t handle it well.  I felt bad for him.  He did act like an idiot which added to the story.  His behavior helped the story develop.  It was fun to watch him struggle a bit but sweet how he treated Ella.
Princess Vivienne, on the other hand, was a bit of a spoiled brat.  Didn’t care for her at all.  She wanted to leave and was focused on what she wanted instead of how it might affect others.  She was not my favorite character.  Even though I sympathized with her situation, I didn’t like her plan.

The author did a marvelous job of taking a beloved fairytale and turning it into a positive story.  Ella was a great character that stood up for herself.  Awesome read! I give it a 4 out of 5.

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