The Ugly Stepsister #1: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back – Sariah Wilson

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

You probably know me well enough by now to realise that while I’m more than happy to wander between genres, I’m a romantiphobe. The only books that I voluntarily sign up for knowing upfront that they will involve kissing are by Chris Cannon, who sucked me in with talk of bookstores and food and a liberal sprinkling of banter, and Melissa McShane, who upped the ante by giving me a magical bookstore!

So, how did this book wind up on my TBR pile? Your guess is as good as mine. It probably had something to do with the fact that this story is told from the perspective of the ugly stepsister, and you know how much I love a good underdog story.

“So come here, Cinderella. You need to see this.”

“I think you’re confused as to which one of us is which girl in that story.”

Mattie’s stepsister, Ella, is practically perfect in every way. She’s gorgeous, kind and loved by everyone. She’s a cheerleader, she volunteers, she fundraises and she is happy to clean their home, even though they’re super rich and have staff employed to do that for them. Mattie’s father is so rich their home comes with its own part of the beach!

Mattie, despite being everything that Ella is not, can’t hate her. Ella is too adorable to hate. Although, the fact that she’s dating the boy Mattie has been in love with for half of her life isn’t exactly helping.

I went from raging mad to helplessly in love to totally confused to completely embarrassed in the space of a few seconds when I was with him.

This was a light read but I enjoyed it much more than I expected I would. Sure, the requisite romance novel eye rolls were there, my favourite of which happened when Mattie did the whole superhero thing. She changed her clothes and donned a mask and hey, presto! She was unrecognisable to the boy she’d been spending so much time with. He didn’t even recognise her voice.

Despite this, I liked the main characters. Mattie was a good underdog, even though she needed some self esteem. Ella was loveable, even though she was too perfect. Jake, who was almost too perfect himself, had vulnerabilities that endeared him to me. Though, I did want to punch him every time he thought of Mattie’s best friend as a “poor man’s Jon Snow”, “wannabe Edward Scissorhands” or “Guyliner”.

I wanted to get to know Trent, said best friend, better because he was sidelined for most of the book. I also wanted Mercedes Bentley to have more page time. Surely a girl who is not embarrassed to be named after two cars is worth getting to know. Come to think of it, maybe she is mortified by her name and that’s the reason she feels called to be a mean girl.

There’s drama and what ifs and that really irritating lack of communication that I’ve come to expect from my limited experience reading romance novels. If the lovey dovey teenagers actually communicated, their story could be all about the HEA by chapter two.

I’ve got to give Jake credit for summing up the plot of pretty much any romance story for me (change the pronouns where appropriate):

“He likes her. She likes him. They find out.”

Now, this is probably going to be the most unexpected thing you’ll hear me say in the near future: I’m planning on reading the sequel.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Kindle Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Everyone knows how those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect – pretty, smart, and, worst of all, nice – stepsister is dating the charming, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her online. The school mean girl has made it her mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister is the most popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.