Before the Midnight Bells (Once Upon A Romance, #1)

Before the Midnight Bells (Once Upon A Romance, #1) - Jessica Woodard Freebie from Amazon for Kindle.I decided to bust out my Kindle again today and look through a bunch of the freebies I had purchased to take with me on my Wi-Fi-free vacation. DNF'd a few, but then I found this gem.Obviously based on the tale of Cinderella, I was expecting the ridden-hard-and-put-up-wet evil stepmother, terrible stepsisters, hidden identities, kingdom-wide searches for a lady with a particular shoe size... the usual. Fortunately, there was nothing 'usual' about this story.The stepmother is flighty, shallow, and a little hair-brained. But she's not evil. She may take Ella for granted, but she doesn't abuse and misuse her like we usually see. I actually liked the stepmother, as clueless as she was.The stepsisters are both hilarious. At the ball, Prudence won't dance with a redheaded man because redheads can't wear pink and if they had kids, the daughter couldn't wear pink. Yeah. She's serious. Beatrice is like, I dunno. She's big in every way. They both cared for Ella and their quirks made this writing of these characters stand out more for me than any others.Ella was... a doormat. For a while, anyway. She felt the need to take on every single responsibility. Not that she was asked to or forced to, but she was the only one that acted like an adult in the family, so she did it. When she finally stood up for herself, I was like "hell yeah!" but I wish the scene had had a bit more confrontation. The stepmother needed Ella to say "enough is enough", but it just wasn't happening. Ella has a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue. While I disliked her need to take on the weight of all the household problems, I loved her otherwise. Her reactions and musings felt natural, believable, and were usually quite funny and smart.Max could have had a little more personality. No... he had personality, but I guess he needed a bit more character development. I didn't feel like I knew him as well as I knew Ella. But he was a nice prince and I liked his loyalty to both Vivi and Ella.This was a very funny book. I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times and I felt weird reading out in the sun because I probably looked like a loon staring at my lap with a grin on my face for 2 hours. Since the book is on my Kindle, I can't copy+paste some of my favorite quotes at the moment, but I will shortly.So, yeah. This isn't your typical Cinderella story. It's part fairy tale, part historical romance, part comedy. I don't know how to say it better than that without giving specific moments that I especially enjoyed... which I might do later.I highly recommend this book! It now costs $2.99, but at 235 pages, I feel like it would be worth it. Great story, fun dialogue, unique characters... and fae Godmother, of course.