Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Who would have thought that a single night at Bemelman’s would bring forth three amazing stories centered around three brothers? That Ava Ryan, the crafter of said stories, would create these heroes who burrow in deep to your imagination. It began with Damon, the oldest brother who bears the wounds of his past as a way to jettison his want for accomplishment. His need to become a billionaire before an important age threshold drives all of his decisions until he meets Carly, and she shows him a different life, a better one. Then, Ryan presents Griffin, the middle brother, the one, whom I believe, feels the wounds of his family most deeply that it constructs an emotional wall so deep that it earns him the moniker The Beast. With the love of the right woman, Griffin’s true nature is revealed, one of a broken little boy afraid to be loved. This leads us to the last brother, Ryker, the hero of Ryan’s newest story, The Billionaire’s Cinderella, and quite honestly, he is the most emotionally mature of the three brothers. Since a uniting theme for these brothers is the influence of their parents’ ruined marriage, and given that Ryker was a toddler when it occurred, it makes sense that he would not bear and endure those wounds as his older brothers. This allows for him, to quite honestly, earn him the title of “most swooniest” of the Black brothers. Yep, I said it. While, until this newest book, Griffin held my heart because there is nothing more romantically intriguing than a broken, grumpy hero with a seriously soft underbelly, there is something more romantically enticing about a hero who adores his heroine even when she bears a prickly, defensive nature.
And that is indeed the case with Ryan’s The Billionaire’s Cinderella.
What isn’t there to love about a hero such as Ryker who, at first glance, knows his heart belongs to a certain woman. A hero who reads her so well that he is willing to experience her initial disinterest because he recognizes something more intriguing about her beyond her outward disdain. A hero who invites her home for an 80s action movie and proceeds to lick ganache from every part of her body. A hero who perseveres through her deep emotional wounds because he knows they are soulmates. This is the Ryker of Ryan’s book, and he will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. He knows himself in a way that Ryan’s heroine, Ella, doesn’t. Even more, he acknowledges Ella’s pain in a way that she doesn’t, and he wants to hold it for her. [Cue the waterworks.] Yes. I shed tears for the empathy that Ryker shows Ella because, to me, it illustrates a depth of intimacy found in the best of relationships. Therefore, the tension of the story lies with Ryan’s heroine.
And Ella is me. There is a distinct theme throughout this book about disparities of wealth. It is one not to be missed. Ella’s emotional wounds are created by wealthy men who were careless with her. In the face of another wealthy man, Ryker, there is an understanding that she would be reticent to hand him her heart. What I really think this book could be called is The Things You Carry With You (a play on another book title that I have to read). Yes, Ella’s past informs her present and future (for good reason), but she lives in a state of fear of “what could happen” because her past demonstrates it to be so. Instead of embracing life with Ryker, she manacles herself to her pride and protection over vulnerability and true intimacy, and it’s there where this book earned my tears. It’s there where I found myself, and it’s there where the message is most profound. Ryan’s evil genius ways make you feel deeply for Ella as she constructs deep walls against losing herself in a man who could rightfully take advantage.
However, Ryker’s love for Ella is the perfect protection, and Ella’s moments of vulnerability with him make your heart sing. When everything is right in this book, it is a delicious melding of sweet, $exy, and swoon. I could not read this story fast enough because I anxiously anticipated their happy ending. I will say, though, that that was the most disappointing part for me. There is a clear happy ending for Ella and Ryker, but it felt abrupt. Yes, Damon and Carly and Griffin and Bellamy are present near the end reminding us of their beautifully wrought stories, and quite frankly, that portion is incredibly poetic and lovely. But I guess I wanted more. I think I need a novella or a bonus epilogue for the Black brothers and their significant others. I really should blame Ava Ryan for it because she made me adore Damon, Griffin, and Ryker, and honestly, I didn’t expect it. Yes, the titles of this trilogy portend some “royal” romance, but that isn’t really the case. Instead, all three books magnify the idea that the most confirmed of bachelors can find “true love.” And I guess it’s there where Ryan’s fairy tale is found even when it looks like Manhattan and billionaire brothers. Honestly, grab The Billionaire’s Cinderella (I bought and sent it to my book bestie) because you will walk away from it feeling like your Prince Charming might just be right around the next corner.
In love and romance,