Cara has an admitted problem with hot men, falling so deeply and so quickly under their spell that she loses a little bit of herself with each toxic relationship that always seems to end badly. Every man in her young life thus far has let her down – her high school sweetheart, a college fling, and most of all her self-centered playboy father. She’s determined not to be a sucker for a handsome face and a hard body any longer, and has stuck to her guns for more than two years. And then she meets Dante.
Dante knows he has no business messing with cute little Cara. For one thing she works for his best friend, and more importantly she’s all kinds of wrong for him – too young, too innocent, too kindhearted. And given the mood he’s in these days – after the woman he was ready to propose to chose her career over him - a sweetheart like Cara should be running as fast as she can in the opposite direction.
But the only place Cara wants to run is right into Dante’s arms and stay a good long while. Will he wind up being the one for her – or is she destined yet again for another heartbreak?
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A warped version of Cinderella
I’m sad to see this series come to an end. I haven’t read every book in the series yet, but I’ve been fortunate enough to read Ian/Tessa and Matt/Sasha’s story and have loved these characters. You can read these as standalones but you also get couples from each book popping up in the others enough that I feel like I know them all already.
I’m going to admit here that Stronger wasn’t my favorite out of the series. That is 100% due to personal preference than having anything to do with the writing. I’m all about the Hero and love a good Cinderella type story but I personally struggle when the Hero is in love with another woman while he’s with the heroine.
Dante has been dating Katie for a year now and he’s at the point where he is ready to propose. Unfortunately, Katie has had a break in her acting career and has been offered a roll on a sitcom. Looking forward to her upcoming celebrity status, she dumps Dante to move to LA and enjoy the spotlight.
Dante is heartbroken. He can’t believe Katie was so callous and dropped him without looking back when he was willing to do anything to keep them together. A couple months after she leaves he starts seeing pictures of her and a different guy in each photo, living it up in LA. He realizes he needs to move on.
This is where Cara comes in. Cara works for his best friend, Nick who also handles his investments. When Dante stops in to see him, he notices it’s Cara’s birthday. Cara admits she isn’t doing anything to celebrate and Dante isn’t having it and offers to take her out to dinner.
Dante just wants to do something nice for Cara and has no plans to start anything with her. She’s too young for him and doesn’t see her as a women...until she shows up for the date and she’s stunning. Seeing Cara all dressed up has really transformed her appearance. Dante is immediately attracted, but still has no plans of leading her on. When she kisses him at the end of there date he doesn’t see why he can’t enjoy a friends with benefits relationship with Cara.
What I thought would follow was a Cinderella type romance. Extremely rich man meets very poor, but sweet woman. He showers her with love, affection and beautiful gifts. (Insert record scratch) This is what really happens... Dante tells Cara that he would like to continue seeing her but he doesn’t want a relationship. It would be purely for benefits and they would see each other only once or twice a week. No commitment and oh yeah, let’s keep this on the down-low cause Nick won’t approve of us.
I’ll give Dante this much, he would have showered Cara with gifts, but Cara has enough self worth to not take gifts from a man who only wants to see her for the “benefits”. He hides their relationship, only sees her twice a week but completely on his terms. She never meets his friends or family and doesn’t even get to know where he lives and then pretty much dumps her when his ex comes crawling back.
Man, I really struggled with that. What’s kind of worse is Dante isn’t really a jerk. He sounds like one and the evidence sure is overwhelming but really his only fault is being in love with a manipulative woman and not being able to see past her to what he could have with Cara. Obviously, he comes to his senses eventually, but man, by that point I really wanted better for Cara.
Cara is the only reason I even enjoyed this book. She has had so many tragic things happen to her and so many people who treated her badly that I wanted her to get Prince Charming so badly! Why would Cara accept this from Dante? She’s had a huge crush on hm since she first met him and has decided she will accept his terms just so she can spend time with him. She likes him so much she was willing to accept his crumbs.
The ending soothes the ache I have for Cara and she finally gets her Prince Charming but he doesn’t really deserve her. Dante finally steps up and treats her like the princess she deserves to be treated and he knows he has a lot to make up for and he’s all in.
This is a warped version of a Cinderella story but I know there are a lot readers who like the real life version and will enjoy this book. ARC provided by NetGalley.