The Cinderella Swap by Linda Palmer
Publisher: Sugar and Spice Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (175 pgs)
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Fern
When high school sophomore Ren Montgomery rescues a shy teenaged girl from a bully, she has no idea that the girl’s big brother, senior Dugan Donovan, is her secret crush. He not only thanks her in person, but drives her home, which should be the beginning of a wonderful relationship. Unfortunately Ren’s mom, a juvie judge, greets Dugan by name, which is never a good thing since it means she first met him in court. Though Ren is ordered to forget the boy, she can’t. Her secret psychic gift—a flash of color that reveals the soul—tells her that Dugan is as good on the inside as he looks on the outside. And while she’s perfectly happy to have a secret boyfriend, Dugan will not cooperate. It’s mutual need that finally brings them together. But will their “Cinderella Swap” remain strictly business?
The Cinderella Swap is a story that is much deeper than a reader may initially expect. To be certain, having a heroine fall for an unobtainable hero with a juvie record is intriguing. There is a ton of angst and heartache just waiting to happen. But author Linda Palmer takes things up a notch by adding a dash of pulse-pounding suspense and a pinch of the paranormal to keep us on our toes.
From the start, you’ll enjoy the voice of Ren, the outspoken yet kind-hearted heroine. She’s a girl who knows what she wants, even if everyone–including the boy in question–tries to tell her to find someone else. Fortunately, her ability to see the soul shades, aka the auras of those around her, tells her what she already knows. The drop-dead gorgeous Dugan isn’t a bad guy at all, regardless of his past. She just has to find a way to get past his defenses and prove to her authoritarian parents that he’s changed. It’s during one of their encounters that Ren meets Bo, Dugan’s boss and mentor. One touch–and a flash of deadly soul shade black–warns Ren that Bo isn’t who he seems. She isn’t sure what to make of what she discovers until she notices Bo’s interest in Payton, Dugan’s young and impressionable sister, and things take an unexpected turn.
Without risking giving anything away, I can tell you that when the story delves into the darker elements and themes, I couldn’t stop reading. Ms. Palmer has done a wonderful job of merging youthful romance with mystery. You’ll have an idea of what’s going on, but I can guarantee that you won’t see what’s coming. The beginning sets up the romance, while the suspense hits near the half-way mark. I soared through the pages, anxious to see where the journey would lead, and didn’t stop until I finished.
The material itself is tightly written and flows nicely. Though written for young adults, I thoroughly enjoyed The Cinderella Swap, and recommend it to both teens and parents alike. Be sure to pencil this delightful story onto your TBR list.