Once upon a time Cynthia was the perfect housewife. Between being the President of the PTA and keeping her home spotless without a hair (or her pearls) out of place, her life was a dream come true. Her husband was once her knight in shining armor, but now he’s run off with all their money…and the babysitter.
Dressed as a princess at the annual Halloween block party on Fairytale Lane, she meets two other “princesses” also facing money troubles: antique store owner Ariel and librarian Isabelle. When the women are invited to wear their costumes to a party where they’re mistaken for strippers, Cindy, Ariel, and Belle realize that a career change could be the best way to make their money problems go bippity-boppity-boo.
But can structured Cindy approach a stripper pole without sanitizing wipes? And could the blue-eyed anti-prince that has been crossing her path become Cindy’s happily ever after?
*Synopsis and photo from Goodreads
*Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press (Swerve), and NetGalley for the copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
I haven’t read much Tara Sivec’s, one novel and two novellas, but I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’ve been meaning to get back to the Chocolate Lovers series but there’s just too many books on my TBR that it’s now somewhere at the bottom. When I saw her new series, I know I couldn’t pass up the chance to read it. I really like the cover, I find it, well, cute. At the Stroke of Midnight is the first book in The Naughty Princess Club series, which is a retelling of some fairytale stories. Only, this is with a modern and naughty spin. The first installment, as the title might suggest is that of Cinderella.
Cynthia is a prim and proper housewife, a PTA head and an active member of the homeowner association in Fairytale Lane. The moment she got married, she did everything she could to be the perfect wife and mother, to have a perfect marriage. It may appear to be so on the outside until her philandering husband run off with their babysitter plus all of their savings. And if that isn’t enough, he also stole money from his parents and now they are hounding her about it. They want the money back and Cynthia is just too worried about what they’ll think that she can’t tell them the truth about their son. Without a job and with their bank account totally wiped out, Cynthia desperately needs to do something to keep her life from completely falling apart. And as if by fate, she met the antique store owner, Ariel and the librarian who’s living on her father’s basement, Isabelle. The three women couldn’t be any different, but their desperate need to earn money bound them together and started not only a business partnership but also a great friendship. After a “princess party” gig blunder, where they are mistaken for strippers, they came to a decision to pursue the stripping business as they see how lucrative said business is. But none of them have any experience on stripping. Then, come PJ to the rescue, the gorgeous owner of the local strip club and make Cynthia’s heart beat a little faster. He let them practice on his club and even give them some necessary advice about the business. But Cynthia feels that PJ doesn’t have any confidence that she can do the job. He thinks she’s just a bored housewife looking for some excitement. But she is determined to prove him wrong and in turn, rein her growing attraction towards him to avoid getting her heart broken again.
Oh, how I love this book. At the Stroke of Midnight is more than just a story of romance. There is also so much women empowerment that I’m so delightful to read. Having read a few Tara Sivec’s, I already know what to expect and it certainly didn’t disappoint. If anything, it exceeded my expectations. It is sexy and absolutely hilarious, I had a smile on my face from the first page up until the last one. It is definitely something you won’t be able to put down once you started. As usual, the writing is great and the set of characters are lovely. I started out having a reservation on both the main characters, Cynthia and PJ. Cynthia is so uptight that you’ll find it hard to have an ounce of liking towards her. But thanks to Ariel who made it her mission to stop her friend from being such a stuck-up. While with PJ, you can’t help but think how did he ended up getting into the business. But as the story progress and their stories was laid out, I can’t help but root for them. Especially Cynthia. Her character development into a confident and independent, kick-ass woman is amazing. The way she discovered how powerful and liberating taking her clothes off can be. And PJ is more than just a prince as he fully supports Cynthia in her career/business. Very charming, indeed. The positive portrayal of exotic dancers is something to be admire as well. I also adore the unlikely yet strong friendship that formed between the three women. The banters between Cynthia and Ariel are laugh-out-loud funny. I just wish there’s more of Belle in the story. But I guess I’ll just have to wait for her own story to come out, which fortunately is the second book of the series.
Although, it is a little predictable and there are some instances that seem to be over the top and unrealistic, in a way it just added to the appeal of the story and made things more entertaining. There’s also not much likeness to the fairytale aside from the names (which are kinda cheesy!) and Cynthia’s background and that’s all good. Despite the constant humor though, there are still some serious issues that were covered which are handled pretty well. In all, At the Stroke of Midnight is a hilarious and sexy romantic comedy that is about self-discovery and empowering women. A totally fun read that left me wanting for more as I hit the last page. I love it!