- Contemporary Romance
- Best-selling author of Dumplin’
- 292 pages
- Cinderella retelling
- Disney inspired (and sponsored)
- Inclusive, plus size protagonist
If The Shoe Fits is a progressive, contemporary romance.
A recent graduate from a prestigious fashion school, Cindy is ready to start her career as a shoe designer. The only problem? She’s out of design ideas and she has no job in sight. Not sure where to go with her new degree, Cindy moves back in with her famous stepmother, Erica Tremaine, a reality dating show exec. Her stepmother gives her the very fashion-free job of nannying her younger siblings for the summer (or until she can find a job). That is, until Erica and her protégé realize they are two candidates short for the latest season of the show.
As a plus size woman, Cindy never expected to be on a show like Before Midnight, where pretty skinny girls compete for a suitor’s attention until one of them wins a ring and some big bucks. But, the opportunity to compete could help Cindy find a designer job, and if she wins, she would have enough cash to start her own line. Though Cindy could use the bump in publicity, she will be the first ever plus-size contestant on the show and that can come with some very real challenges.
Best-selling author Julie Murphy’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and of believing in the happy ending each and every one of us deserves.
If you guys saw my recent review of Darling Girl, you might have realized I’ve been on a bit of a Disney kick while I was away on vacation. While researching Disney-inspired novels, Julie Murphy’s book popped up and I decided to give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did!
This book, guys. This book. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, but it was fantastic.
The premise of this book is Bachelor-inspired (the show). Basically, a whole bunch of single female contestants compete for the love of the suitor, who gets to decide whether they stay or go. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this plotline, but I really did.
Let me start off with a review of the characters. First of all, I love how Disney inspired this book is (and I suppose it probably should be given that it was produced by Disney). The characters in the novel all fit the characters in the classic movie, but Murphy changes their stereotypes. Cindy is plus-size and she is described as not being the typical ideal of beauty, at least by the other characters. Though, she certainly seems to hold her own and I visualized her as drop-dead gorgeous, regardless of her size.
The “evil” stepmother is played by Erica Tremaine, the show producer and she breaks the stereotype as well. Although she often challenges Cindy, it is completely out of love. You can tell that she sees Cindy as one of her own daughters and really only wants the best for her, even if she doesn’t truly understand what the best means. As with most parents, Erica is a little out of touch, which complicates the relationship between her and Cindy. I don’t see Erica as the “bad guy” in this book at all and I loved how Murphy changed that perspective for her.
One more note about the characters—I want to talk just a little about the “stepsisters,” Anna and Drew. These two are Erica’s biological children, but only related to Cindy through marriage. They are also cast on the show with Cindy, and even given the competition between the three of them, they still support her. Anna and Drew fit some of the stepsister stereotypes, but the break most of them, as Erica does. It’s clear that they are a support system for Cindy, regardless of whether they are competing against her or not, and I loved that aspect.
Now, I won’t say a lot about the suitor of this novel because as soon as I give it away, it’s a big spoiler. So, I’m not going to do that because I 100% am recommending romance readers try out this book (you will love it). That being said, I think his character was commendable. I liked that he respected Cindy and he made absolutely no remarks throughout the entire book about her size—he treated her just the same as all the other girls, which exactly the type of inclusivity that we need in this book.
Speaking of inclusivity, I just need to point this out here—Julie Murphy did an incredible job with pronouns in this book. Several of the characters meet LGBTQ characteristics and a few of the characters even use they pronouns. I loved that she included this in the book, and truthfully, she does it so seamlessly that most readers wouldn’t even notice it. This is the first heterosexual romance book that I have ever read that had that level of inclusivity in it and I truly believe it should be more common. I really enjoyed that Murphy took the time to add representation to this story with the minor characters.
As far as plotline, I went into this book thinking that it was going to be very predictable—and to some aspect, it was. There’s only so many ways you can write a book like this and have a happy ending, right? Well, I was wrong. The ending of this book was so unexpected and perfect. I won’t give it away, but I did really enjoy the extra surprise at the end. It was not at all what I expected and exactly what this book needed.
I’m going to be real with you all, my biggest disappointment with If The Shoe Fits was that it doesn’t have a sequel yet. When I went on my Goodreads to review it, I noticed it was labeled #1, and I was so bummed that there isn’t another one yet. But, no worries, I’m sure that there’s one coming, and in the meantime, I’ll just read Murphy’s other books, as this is the first book I’ve actually read by her (though I thoroughly enjoyed the Netflix movie based on her book Dumplin’).
As far as criticism goes, the only thing I struggled with was this book was some of the minor characters. I felt it was difficult to keep track of some of them in the beginning, but I’m not sure that’s completely unavoidable, given the fact that this book is about a show that has more than a handful of girls on it for the majority of the premise.
That being said, I think this book was a perfect romance. Because it was sponsored by Disney, there wasn’t a lot of spicy scenes, but the reader still gets a very good sense of Cindy and her suitor’s chemistry. The ending was completely unexpected, but in all the best ways. I loved the inclusion of LGBTQ characters and diverse pronouns. There’s really not a lot I would change about this novel, I thought it was really well written, fantastic read.
If you’re looking for a good romance, I would definitely recommend checking out If The Shoe Fits (and, it’s also YA friendly). If you’d like to purchase it, you can see it on Amazon here.
In the meantime, check out my other Disney-inspired retelling review, Darling Girl, by clicking here.
Until next week!