Nola Devlin has a secret identity. By day she is an overweight, frumpy, and overlooked editor, but by night she slips behind her keyboard and into her alter ego: Belinda Apple. Belinda is thin, gorgeous, and the author of a glamorous advice column. Not even Nola's two best friends or her jealous sister (who worships Belinda as the "sister she never had") know her secret.
Nola is shocked when Belinda receives a desperate letter from Deb, her best friend and former cheerleading captain, now also overweight and depressed. Nola resolves to help her friend, and together with their pal Nancy, the trio form the "Cinderella Pact", a promise to be their own fairy - godmothers and help change one another for good.
But things don't turn out the way the three friends expect. Deb's formerly devoted husband drifts further away with every pound she loses, while Nola finds herself caught between a crush on her dreamy boss and the attentions of a charming British reporter. But which of them loves the real Nola? Only when her secret identity is revealed will she find out which man is right for her, and if her two best friends can forgive her deception.
This was surprisingly pretty thoughtful! I picked it up thinking it would do for some brain candy for a few hours, and it turned out to have quite a bit of heart to it. Nola is quite a woman! Being overweight and very conscious of it, mainly because of how others treat her because of it, she seems at first glance to be your typical damsel in distress type of character. But Nola can stand on her own two feet just fine! She most certainly has a backbone, it just takes some pushing to make it come out. But stress at work, worry for her friends, and finally just getting tired of always being looked down on, (plus a rather handsome man!) fire her up at the perfect moments.
She makes plenty of mistakes though, pretending to be someone she's not being one of them, but owns up to them by the end. She's also a very loyal friend. The friendship between Nola, Deb, and Nancy was a wonderful aspect of the book! No matter if they agree with the decisions each of them make or not, they are always right there regardless. Always supporting one another and cheering one another on. I love great friendships in stories and this group of women have a lovely one.
The weight issue is a sensitive one to approach, and Ms. Strohmeyer handles it delicately and nicely. There's no crude humor at the expense of the heavy people here. Instead, the overweight people have issues and reasons for their weight gain, and the story marks each persons journey to their respective discoveries. Because journey's they are. Each woman has to do some jogs here and there and also serious soul-searching to reach their epiphany. It's not an easy road for any of them. But once they reach their goal, you're so happy right along with them!
Of course, there's romance. But it actually is more of a background plotpoint. While it only takes center stage in bits and pieces, that doesn't mean it isn't sweet. Because who doesn't want somebody to show you that they love you because of who you are, not what you look like? Yes, it's a bit cliche, but still so fun! Because isn't that what we all dream about? ;) A relatively clean story filled with friendship, romance, exercise, and coming to know oneself better, this is a terrific way to spend a few hours!
"Daydreaming is something I do regularly and, may I say, I do well. I have daydreamed all my life. I can't remember not daydreaming. In fourth grade I could tell you the names I had given the leaves on the tree outside our classroom window. Or the fairies and elves that lived in its roots. My grade point average hovered at a C- in fourth grade.
It is the refuge of worrywarts, daydreaming. That and mindless eating. Best done in combination for full effect.
It would be nice if Computer Chip drove a Capri blue Mercedes SLK convertible, but he doesn't. He drives a black Toyota pickup and is wearing a denim shirt rolled up to the elbows when he pulls up next to me and leans out his window."