Title: This is Now
Author: Maggie Gilbert
Release Date: February 1, 2014
A gritty, urban New Adult Cinderella story where the princess can do her own rescuing — she just needs someone to believe in her.
Sister to car thieves, ex-girlfriend to a drug dealer, high school dropout, no-hoper and loser — Jess is on the sidelines, watching her life become one epic fail. Her dreams of university are fading fast, as the people in her life fight to confine her to their own expectations.
Then she meets Sebastien, a gifted cellist from a very different walk of life. Sebastien is clean and strong and talented. He likes and respects her, but he too has expectations. Sebastien seems to think she can do anything, and Jess, despite her fears and the secrets she hides, is starting to believe him.
But just as Jess dares to hope, the secrets in her past and the lies in her present catch up with her. All seems lost and she has to make a choice. Between past and future. Between home and hope. Between now and never. And this is now.
They had me at “Cinderella.” I’m a sucker for a good fairytale, a story of star-crossed lovers and a happily ever after. When I received the ARC of the book I was really excited to get started. The story started off a little slow for my taste. I like to be drawn in from the first page and it took a little bit before I felt completely into the storyline and the characters. As the book progressed it definitely got better and better. Initially I was caught off guard by some of the lingo in this book, until I realized this was an Australian story and then I got really excited because I love a good accent!
Jess was a cool character. I liked that she lived her life unapologetic of her decisions (but not completely running over other people in the process) and had a bit of an attitude. It felt genuine to her current situation and her history. Even though she is tough and likes to party, she still knows that she wants more from life and she goes to school and has a job so she can get there someday. I appreciated that she had this dream and determination on her own and didn’t need a guy to tame her wild ways and make her see that she could have more. She already knew she deserved and wanted more. She just needed to rise to the challenge to get it. Sebastien is the “prince” in this Cinderella story. Thankfully he isn’t the typical celebrity/rockstar/wealthy-guy-who-has-never-had-to-work-at-anything-in-his-life character usually portrayed in these modern fairytales. He does come from a well-to-do family, but he doesn’t seem to be running around acting like an idiot and expecting to live off his parents wealth forever. He is actually very smart and is a talented cellist. He is dedicated to his music and works hard to make that his career.
The best thing about this storyline was the pacing. It didn’t feel rushed. There was no annoying insta-love or “we just met ten minutes ago so let’s jump each other” action. The characters got to know each other and their relationship actually developed instead of just appearing. The secondary characters were nice additions to the story and played opposite the main characters well. It left me wanting to know more about them. That is probably the only real issue I had with this book. I wish I had the chance to really connect with the characters. I didn’t really develop an emotional understanding of the characters because a lot of their lives before meeting each other was just briefly glossed over. I wanted to understand why Jess felt so stuck in her own life, why she was afraid of turning out like her mother or brothers but, except for one scene with her mother where things got heated, the encounters between Jess and her family are brief and do little to enlighten us as to their relationships. Sebastien kept claiming his life wasn’t perfect and he seemed to understand where Jess was coming from, but we didn’t see any of it. Sure, his family was never really around, but until the last several pages his life does seem to otherwise be pretty perfect.
On the plus side, there was enough of a story left to be told that there is a potential for future books focused on life after “This is Now” and the secondary character’s lives in general. Overall, I really liked this story. It was a fun read and the characters were interesting and authentic. It was a cool twist on a well-known storyline and I hope I will be seeing these characters again!
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