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Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook, heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town.

Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne. For generations the Charmaynes have spotted their soulmates by seeing a golden aura the first time they laid eyes on The One.

When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

266 pages, Paperback

First published March 10, 2015

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Ines Johnson

94 books481 followers

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5 stars
131 (30%)
4 stars
140 (32%)
3 stars
107 (24%)
2 stars
36 (8%)
1 star
15 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews
Profile Image for Camille.
1,584 reviews53 followers
May 1, 2015
2 stars for the cutesy fairy tale spin, which was sweet...even though we know nothing of what the hero looks like besides having grey eyes. I kept seeing these disembodied grey eyes floating around. Anyway.

3 stars though for the heroine, an English high school teacher, addressing the "customer is always right" model that is American education.

Because, thank you!

The customer of course being the lazy, indisciplined little fucks who think showing up in class entitles them to an A grade participation trophy.

In my country we earned our education. Here, the teachers are the ones being tested and graded. Can't get the entitled assholes to score 80- something and teachers' livelihoods come under threat.

America's education system is the fricking Titanic and teachers are the ones below deck seeing the iceberg mere metres away while everyone outside of education is up top dancing along to the string quartet, singing "what a mighty super power we are."

Wait for it, America is raising a generation of appallingly indulged idiots, and the chickens will come home to roost.

But don't listen to the people in the classroom. Just go, you know, bomb something or whatever.
Profile Image for Francesca Forrest.
Author 20 books82 followers
July 19, 2015
This was great in all kinds of ways. I thought the overall structure--retelling of Cinderella with a single mom in the title role--was really well executed, and I liked that it was self-consciously done. (Pumpkin has dreams of being a screenwriter, and she's always thinking in terms of casting, plots, movies, etc.) I really liked the setting and background drama: the election, with the accompanying conflict between the fishermen and the BP-like company that's polluted the waters off the coast of Louisiana. I really liked the background relationship between Pumpkin's two students, and the fact that Pumpkin was wrong about them. I really *loved* Pumpkin and Manny's talks about issues, and I liked Pumpkin's character a whole lot--her remorsefulness when she sees she's messed something up, and her determination to keep trying. She always speaks truth to power--like this excellent speech on the impossible standards single moms are expected to live up to:
"Society sets single mothers up for impossible expectations," Pumpkin continued. "Better yourself through education, they say. Work two jobs, make a nutritious dinner from scratch, get your kids into enrichment activities after school and after your long day of work. Work harder, do better, even though we're already maxed out. And then we're told to keep it tight and sexy so that we'll find a daddy for our kid. Is it any wonder we start to think that love is a fairytale? And no fairytale involves mothers, definitely not single mothers."

One of the best things (though also one of the most painful things) in the book is I also thought the portrayal of Seth's father was really good. It would have been easy to make him a complete and irredeemable jerk. Instead he's just a... not-so-great guy, but one who wants to try to have a relationship with his son.

My only complaint was the really stock Hollywood betrayal, which I knew was coming but hoped against hope the story would avoid. Manny fell significantly in my estimation for letting himself feel/be betrayed when the secret Pumpkin hasn't been bold enough to reveal comes out. As Pumpkin herself thinks, here's a guy who's willing to stick up for Pumpkin's student Tyler and see to it that Tyler gets a second chance, but he doesn't consider doing the same for the woman he loves? Of course he does come round eventually but--oh, it's just that I hate Hollywood betrayals like that. I'd rather have *anything* else keep the lovers apart.

But I liked everything else about the book and would recommend it for anyone who wants a fun, thoughtful romance with a wonderful single-mom protagonist and excellent supporting characters.
Profile Image for Sophia.
274 reviews6 followers
August 5, 2015

This was a beautiful story. I enjoyed reading this book. Very Cinderella like. Manny was a wealthy bachelor looking for the one and she was standing in front of him the whole time. Pumpkin (Malika) had given up on love because of the frog that abandoned her. But an accidental encounter led her to her prince.
Profile Image for Courtney Filigenzi.
Author 5 books31 followers
April 17, 2015
A fun and entertaining single-mom fairy-tale that kept me turning the pages! I adored Pumpkin and enjoyed her journey to her happily-ever-after! I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series.
Profile Image for Empi Baryeh.
Author 11 books57 followers
March 31, 2017
Taking a fairy tale and giving it a modern twist can be tricky, which is why I approach fairy tale adaptations with caution. Although, to be honest this one had me at 'cindermama' (and the simple, but beautiful cover design).

Where do I start! The story starts off with an introduction to the heroine, Pumpkin, and her unenviable relationship with her cousins. In drawing a contrast between Pumpkin and her cousins, the author is able to show her heroine to be a woman of substance.

The first meeting with the hero is sweet, with just the right amount of humour woven in that made the scene magical.

Speaking of magic, the hero, Manny, has a family history of 'the third eye', which allows them to 'see' The One. Unfortunately for Manny, he has had to kiss many many frogs in search of the one. And the scene where he 'sees' her is so well-described that I could picture it.***sigh***

I loved this story. I loved how the heroine challenged the hero, how he was ready to at least consider what she had to say, how they 'got' each other. I haven't been so engrossed in a book in a long time. A definite must read.
Profile Image for Clare O'Beara.
Author 21 books324 followers
April 24, 2020
Malika Tavares is affectionately known as Pumpkin by her two sisters. The three ladies are all single moms. But Malika had a marriage - which failed - and the other ladies just judge men by the size of the child support they are likely to provide. Malika went to college and now teaches. She has given up on ever finding a Mr Right, because there are no moms in the fairytales she was handed as a child. More important is to raise her young son well.

Then Malika meets a dashing young would-be politician from a good family, seeking support in his mayoral campaign. Without knowing why, she finds herself volunteering to help him. About that time, two gentlemen start showing an interest in her. Maybe it's time she starts getting her own life back again. But the fact remains; single moms don't have any place in the fairytales.

This is a splendidly observed and well realised woman's fiction story, which is also an adult romance.
I enjoyed the characterisation and some of the situations; an environmental dispute is included, between fishermen and the firm behind an oil spill. That's an indicator of the depths in this story, which on the surface, tells a Cinderella version of the royalty-among-commoners archetype.
My dislike is that Malika doesn't treat well a quiet gentleman who asks her out; I suppose this shows us nobody is perfect.

I downloaded an e-ARC from the author. I'd be happy to read more by this author. This is an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Lisa Tetting.
Author 4 books63 followers
March 20, 2017
Do you believe in fairy tales? Well I certainly do and so does the mc in this book, Pumpkin.

Pumpkin is a modern day Cinderella with a twist. She's a single mother! When her parents died in a car wreck, young Pumpkin was taken in by her mean spirited aunt and raised with her cousins, who make her life miserable. After college she rushed into a loveless marriage due to an unexpected pregnancy, only to find herself deserted by her husband soon after. Her evil twin cousins are stereotypical short sighted recipients of welfare, each with multiple children by different men.

When she meets her 'Prince Charmayne' aka Manny, she is smitten right away, but both are too stubborn to give in to the feelings they have. The story goes on with twists and turns and ends like all good fairy tales with a HEA.

I enjoyed the writing style of the author and found myself lost in Pumpkins fantasy world. The relationship between Pumpkin and Manny was sexy, fun, flirty and right up my alley with all the references to movies. This story made me laugh out loud with Manny's silly antics. It was a fun read and a great twist on a classic fairy tale.
Profile Image for Deena.
533 reviews8 followers
February 23, 2017
Cute read. Loved the fairy tale aspect. It took me a minute to get into the story, but I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Nicole.
2,177 reviews5 followers
May 10, 2018
OMG! A confusion of fairytale stories and way too many metaphors! The opening chapters were the worst but it does continue through the book. I love rewritten fairy stories; I even wrote a paper on the them as an undergraduate but a writer needs to be clear in her ideas. The shame here is that the links to Cinderella were often quite clever. Ines Johnson needs a good editor with a big red pen to stop her from going too far.
12 reviews
January 1, 2017
Fun story

Nice twist on an old fairy tale. Enjoyed the story plan on reading the next one. I really liked it.
Profile Image for Michaela.
355 reviews7 followers
July 10, 2017
Such a great read! Now I need the second one. Pumpkin and Manny were a modern fairytale romance. Filled with second chances and recasting the roles of ones own destiny.
Profile Image for Goth Gone Grey.
992 reviews46 followers
June 7, 2018
Fairy tales, movies, and the modern world entwined

Fairy tale retellings are a fun genre. This is a modern version, playful and fun. Pumpkin is a beautiful single (kinda) mom, escaping into movie plots and envisioning her life as one. Mr. Charmayne (or Charming, whatever shoe fits) is a handsome, rich local politician and businessman.

The secondary characters of Pumpkin's family are LaStereotypes, from their names to their life choices. Modern day villains, I suppose, but they left me a bit uncomfortable.

Perhaps I just don't understand the hotness factor of lip biting, but it seemed endless. Sex scenes were ok, somewhat graphic but still fairly vanilla. The writing is sound, with a few typos that slipped through. Following classic romantic movie books and movies, there's a misunderstanding that drives the leads apart... But then it wouldn't be a fairy tale without a happy ending, right?
729 reviews13 followers
May 8, 2018
A true Cinderella!!!

So, I started this book in a rushed thinking that I knew what it was about but little did I know that if I didn't slow down or stopped,skipping, I would have to re-read it to its entirety so I could truly understand and did I understood....
This was truly a work of art how the author was able to put on paper, black and white, how low self esteem can actually destroy a human being.
Pumpkin was the average, low self esteem, single mother, struggling and in a fairy tale worl, the ugly duckling awaiting for its Prince, who turned out to be, Manny who truly was a prince, nice, charming, gentlemen and all.
If you are looking for a wonderful Sunday afternoon, or are feeling particularly nice and uplifted, this book is for you
Profile Image for Kimberly Treamer.
171 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2018
2 Stars
This was a struggle for me... while I love the whole strong independent woman bit, Pumpkin's entire personality was irritating and rather juvenile. She was just stuck to much in her head with the story books, and categorizing everyone and everything. Get your head back in real life and give people a chance. Get to know who they really are before you become all judgmental. Just really was not a fan of her at all...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chelsea Nicole.
419 reviews16 followers
September 1, 2019
This book was completely silly but I liked the spin on the typical Cinderella tale. What I found very weird is that the characters tells you exactly what is going to happen. I wished Manny had a better description because I couldn't really wrap my head around what he or his aunt looked like. While it wasn't a terribly bad book I think it could have benefited with having younger characters. Everyone in this was way too immature.
Profile Image for The Book Junkie Reads . . ..
4,813 reviews140 followers
January 8, 2017
Pumkin had her hand full with her child and two grown children, her cousins and their children. She never ever expected to be swept off her feet in front of the welfare office. Then swept in to politics and the limelight she did not want anything to do with it. This was a different take on Cinderella. With some urban flare.
Profile Image for Sheena Breland.
17 reviews
May 16, 2018
New age Cinderella story

All the characters are there, just in a different way. This was a fun and quirky yet predictable Cinderella tale. There were some spins that kept it interesting. There were also a few grammatical errors that caused pause but didn’t prevent me from finishing and enjoying the story.
Profile Image for Michele.
510 reviews2 followers
June 14, 2018
I would give this book 4 1/2 stars. The plot and writing were really enjoyable, and seeing the growth of the characters was happily unexpected. My only gripe was the portrayal of Pumpkin's family, too stereotypical "welfare queens". She could have had unsupportive family members without perpetuating this harmful narrative.
Profile Image for Katie Jo.
401 reviews
May 22, 2019
I really loved this retelling of Cinderella. There needs to be more contemporary stories about single mothers and women of color. Ms. Johnson does a great job smashing stereotypes while not avoiding the issues many people face. I love that Pumpkin is not a weak woman, but still has her faults. It's refreshing to read realistic characters that are written with heart.
Profile Image for April.
605 reviews
October 19, 2019
While I liked Malika/Pumpkin well enough, the secret she kept from Darrell and Manny even though she had time to tell both was one thing I didn't like about her. The overall theme feels like one that has been done before so this story didn't add anything new as far as I could tell. Not sure if I would read any more in this series or not.
5 reviews
July 13, 2017
Like no other fairytale

What a fun read! With reference to fairytale characters of our youth, this adult version is fun and sexy. A real page turner. Downloading another book now....
Profile Image for Barbara "Cookie" Serfaty Williams.
2,394 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2017
The love story of Pumpkin (Malik's) and Manny (Armand). Pumpkin is a single mom who has stop believing in love. She meets Manny and her hold world changes. Can Pumpkin find her dream again or will she find another frog. Get story and African-American Cinderella story.
228 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2018
A very interesting story

I enjoyed reading this Cinderella-like story with a political background. They left a few important story elements unanswered but the ending was still satisfying.
1,177 reviews
September 24, 2018
Adult love

Pumpkin is a straight arrow, A high school teacher and single mother. Her husband walked out 3 years ago. She becomes involved with a man running for mayor and his best friend.
Profile Image for Sue Lauzon.
281 reviews2 followers
March 31, 2019
This book was just an okay read for me. The storyline was a little to cliché for me with all the Cinderella and fairytale references. It was a quick and easy read. I also wanted to smack her aunt and her two cousins.
3 reviews
September 1, 2017
Great story

I enjoyed escaping for a little while with the story. Not too long for a quiet afternoon read. nice ending
869 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and the story line was good. I couldn’t put this book down until I finished it.
Profile Image for Angel Graham.
Author 1 book30 followers
May 9, 2018
Just No. I didn't like anything about this book except for the son.
Profile Image for Fatmata Sankoh.
1,159 reviews4 followers
May 16, 2018
Loved it. From start to finish I was hooked. It was funny and exciting. The characters and storyline were well written. A definite must read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews

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