From the Cover: Nola Delvin has a secret identity. By day, she's an overweight, frumpy, and overlooked magazine editor. But by night, she slips behind her keyboard and into her alter ego: Belinda Apple. Belinda is all the things Nola is not --- thin, gorgeous, and the author of a trendy advice column. Note even her sister or best friends know her secret......
Nola Delvin is stressed, overworked, and certainly the most underpaid editor at Sass! Magazine, the magazine for trendy women everywhere. When the wicked witch of the west, Lori DiGrigio stumbles up to Nola's desk (with red thong showing) demanding to know the whereabouts of Belinda Apple. It would seems that Ms. Apple may have pulled a fast one on the magazine (meaning on Lori) and may not be whom she claims to be. Also meaning, Lori needs someone to blame.
Nola's face drops, color slowly drains from it....is her secret safe or does Lori know something Nola doesn't.
It all started several months ago when Sass! was looking for a columnist for a new ethics advise column. Nola's five year goal was to be a columnist, and not just an editor. It's now four years later and she's still an editor. So, naturally she applies for the job, knowing she meets the qualification. Lori DiGrigio laughs at first, until she realizes Nola isn't kidding, assuring her she'll get back to her. Nola knows Lori will never get 'back' to her. She's a fat snob. Nola decides to take matters into her own hands. First, she photoshops an old college photo changing hair color and slenderizing, adding sassy pink cowboy boots. Next, she copies her resume and application onto her new alter ego's application and whala, Belinda Apple has been born.
Almost as soon as the application and photo hits Lori desk, Nola's new cell phone rings (Belinda's new cell phone number). Answering her new cell with a British accent (Belinda is quite British you know), she is told that Sass! would love it if she could start right away....just as Nola was going into her ah ha! moment, Lori mentions the salary $150,000 per year. Belinda would earn at least 3X's as much as Nola, plus fees and bonuses. Nola knows she shouldn't, but who could resist, she'll be Belinda's editor anyway. She can write the column at home at night and edit the next morning at her desk at Sass! What could be the problem? No one would be the wiser and she could use the extra money. No one knows Nola's secret, not best friends Nancy and Deb. Not Joel, fellow editor and friend. No one knows or can know.
Nancy, Deb, and Nola have been friends forever, bound by their need of acceptance, no one wants to have fat friends. But when they arrived at a favorite restaurant only to be told they'd have to sit in back where they'd be less noticeable, do they feel their fatness. Nancy, top trial lawyer inquires about their policies on discrimination. She is assured that they are not being discriminated against and offered to find a different restaurant...maybe Hoagies Haven. The girls have had it. Nancy pulls from her bag Belinda Apple's April column 'If I Can Do It, So Can You!' where she relays her struggle to get thin. Belinda has laid out steps to follow, much to Nola's chagrin, Nancy has taken it to heart. Nancy urges them to make a 'Cinderella Pact', to find their inner goddesses, to become a true Cinderella through diet and exercise. Deb and Nola groan, do you know how many diets they have tried? Sure she did, Nancy has dieted with them.
The Cinderella Pact starts that day. No more over eating, no more desserts, no more fun! Deb has a secret, she's going to have gastric bypass surgery, has been planning it for weeks, but Paul (her husband) doesn't want her to, but she knows diets won't work for her. Nancy hires a personal trainer and a nutritionist. Nola decides on Weight Watchers. Now she counting points again and having to go to the dread weigh ins.
David Stanton, son of the publisher of Sass!, is also looking into the Belinda Apple problem. If he's going to take over publication duties, he needs to know his employees. Unfortunately, Nola has never met him before, knows nothing about him, including his involvement with the Belinda investigation.
After Nola's car bursts into flames, she left stranded at Sass!, when a mysterious stranger pulls up in a beat up Toyota pick up asking with she needs a ride. Assuming it's Chip from the tech department, Nola climbs in and gives direction to her apartment. Chip, it turns out, is sweet and seems to really like Nola. But Nola has been made fun all her life and the gorgeous guys never go for the fat girls. As Chip and Nola get know each other, all the signals point to Chip really being interested. He encourages her to buy her dream car to replace the now officially dead Audi Fox, a Mercedes SLK65 in Capri blue, when she hesitates, Chip finds her the closest thing he can, a Mercedes Roadster SLK230 in black. Even better. And the price is just right.
As the investigation at Sass! gets deeper, Nola is getting email daily from David Stanton and inquiries from Lori DiGrigio about who Belinda Apple really is and where she can be found. Nola's sister, Eileen, is a big fan of Belinda's and after speaking to her about Nola's weight problem, Nola's jealousy toward Eileen, and the way Nola acts towards her fiancee, Eileen decides Belinda would be perfect as the maid of honor in her perfect wedding. As the plot thickens surrounding Nola and Belinda, only one of them can survive, the question is will everyone understand when Nola holds her head up and announces to the world her true identity.
The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer is a must read. It tells the story of a shy, insecure, overweight, overlooked woman who just wants what everyone else wants, the happily ever after that we're promised as little girls. No one tells you that boys may not like you because of the way you look, kids will make fun of you, and people won't respect you. Nola has struggled her whole life, yo-yo dieting, putting weight on and off again, only to gain more with each diet. She's given up until she makes the Cinderella Pact with her friends, in fact, she wants to give up several times throughout the book. She struggles trying to find her true identity and the happiness that life can bring. For her own personal happiness, she wants, no needs, to lose weight and to keep it off. Diet and exercise become her new friends. It was hard watching Nola struggle, especially as her alter ego, the perpetually thin and gorgeous Belinda Apple, sneaks into her life. It exceptionally hard when she is with Chip, wondering if he can really have feelings for her, since no one really has before. He could be the love of her life or the bane of her existence. At times, I laughed out loud reading this story, it was so incredibly funny, but at others times I had tears from her heartache and struggles. I can highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a fun heartening novel.
For more information about Sarah Strohmeyer's novels, please visit her website. She can also be found most days blogging on the Lipstick Chronicles. The Cinderella Pact tells the story of her own struggle with weight issues. She has an online support site for all those who'd like to take part in the Cinderella Pact @ http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/cinderellapact/. The Cinderella Pact Series continues with The Sleeping Beauty Proposal and Sweet Love. I can hardly wait to read them.