The Bachelor Auction
In this Cinderella-redux story, Jane divides her time between managing her demanding step-sisters and running her cleaning business. When she ends up at a fancy party and loses a shoe, she slips into a completely different world. Our hero is Brock Wellington is a billionaire CEO; a gruff, severe man who is hoodwinked into participating in a bachelor auction by his spry and wily grandfather – and the auction will lead to marriage. Of course, Brock is falling for Jane, but she’s not marriage material! Or is she? As the day of the auction approaches, a cast of characters (including a fairy godmother of sorts!) will conspire to ensure a ride into the sunset for our fairytale couple.
If that summary sounds a little cutesy – and not in a good way – then you may want to steer clear of this book. I can’t tell if Ms. Van Dyken meant to write a series of over-the-top caricatures as characters, or if this is meant to be a straight-laced novel, but the characters are too quirky and the plot devices too oddball for the latter. It’s essentially a screwball comedy in written form, although I’m not completely sure that’s what it’s supposed to be.
When we meet Jane, she’s running her business, Cinderella Cleaning, and dealing with running the lives of her two demanding step-sisters. She barely has time to breathe, much less go to a party at a mansion, but she goes anyway. Desperate to not really be seen and to get out of there quickly, she is nonetheless caught up in a fracas and is in need of rescuing. Thankfully, a handsome stranger is there to whisk her away to a safe room, and also to replace her destroyed shoes.
Soon after, Jane is offered a job cleaning a private house by a mysterious older man. She agrees after he badgers her into it, naming a salary she simply cannot turn down. Jane is under the impression that the house is empty, but she comes to find out that not only is someone living in it, but it’s the handsome stranger!
Brock’s grandfather was the mysterious older man, by the way, and he’s a bag of quirks. Determined to get Brock married off, he’s arranged an auction, where the highest bidder for Brock will marry him. As Brock feels more and more connected to Jane, he’s more and more surly about the auction. Taking place over the course of a month, The Bachelor Auction not only follows the story of Brock and Jane, but introduces a cast of secondary characters who demand to be explored in further books. Fans of Ms.Van Dyken will find much to forward to, but I don’t believe I’ll be continuing with this series. I felt no connection to the hero or heroine, and if the brothers are going to be the focus of future works, I’m out on them too. Bentley and Brant were grating and not endearing, and the one character many other reviews call out as their favorite was one I could not connect with.
I had such high hopes for this book as I love fairy tale retellings, but I think some aspects were taken too literally. If Jane was a small business owner, a profession which takes quite a lot of fortitude and a thick skin, why in the name of everything that is holy was she taking all that crap from her step-sisters? Family obligation does not cover her choices. In the fairy tale, she is economically dependent upon the stepmother but I could see no justification here. Additionally, where some may find the grandfather charming, I found him frustrating and inappropriate.
If you’re looking for a light and fluffy – so fluffy, in fact, it’s like cotton candy – then this book may work for you. I’ve never read any of Ms. Van Dyken’s other works, so I cannot speak as to whether this is atypical or not, and thus cannot say if fans of existing works would enjoy this one. What I do know is that The Bachelor Auction simply did not work for me.