Release Date: November 30th, 2021
CW/TW: character with Alzheimer’s disease, death of a grandparent, gaslighting
Claire Ventura is nothing like the poised and perfect heroines she reads about in her favorite romance novels. She’s a quirky, people-pleasing bookworm with a degree in Women’s Studies and an internet cookie decorator all rolled into a five-foot-two package fueled by chamomile tea.
And most of all, Claire loves her grandmother, Lola. Claire was always her favorite grandchild, and they shared a special bond. So when Lola inches into her nineties and Alzheimer’s starts chipping away at the vital and independent woman she used to be, the whole family dynamic starts shifting in a new direction.
Then Claire meets Nate, the CEO of a mega tech company, and he takes her to Paris. Hailed as the next Mark Zuckerberg, Nate is a fast-rising star in the tech industry, and he’s just fallen head-over-heels for Claire. Together, Claire and Nate must learn to navigate their personal and professional lives and, in the end, Nate proves to Claire that fairytale endings are really just the beginning.
Everything about the way How to Survive a Modern-Day Fairy Tale sounded, it was right up my alley, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped. The book follows Filipino-American Claire Venture as she navigates life as a bookseller and a cookie making expert while trying to balance making her family happy and making herself happy. The last thing Claire expects is to meet a handsome billionaire who worships her and wants to give her the life she never dreamt of.
As a fan of strangers to lovers and a reader who enjoys exploring other cultures, I was really looking forward to this story. But there was a lot left to be desired. I’m not a fan of insta love, which was what was happening with Claire and Nate and the fact that we didn’t see too much of Nate’s side of things made the story feel a little incomplete. I’m happy to read a story with just one POV, but I believe this story deserved Nate’s side as well, because there were just so many questions left unanswered.
As this is Elle’s debut, I will admit that it’s well thought out and planned, but at the same time I felt like it dragged on for a little too long. I also didn’t entirely believe in or like the relationship between Claire and Nate, because it felt like he was trying to buy her love with all of the expensive things and trips around the world. Their relationship moved too fast for my liking and their break-up/conflict felt too empty.
I’m also not a fan of female characters disliking themselves because they’re not like other women, or comparing themselves to other women. And Claire didn’t have faith in herself for a good chunk of the book, plus she refused to believe that Nate wanted to be with her for who she was. There was a lot of comparing herself to other women going on and it bothered me. There was also some gaslighting on Nate’s part when it came to Claire and her insecurities that didn’t sit well with me.
I’m still unsure about whether or not I liked what we got of Claire’s Filipino culture, because it was mostly rooted in Asian family dramatics – which as an Indian, I can relate to – but I think a part of me expected more of that culture to be infused into the story.
While this story didn’t work for me, I don’t want to say it won’t work for others. I commend Elle Cruz for putting her whole self into writing this book, because it has the bones of something great!
Thanks to NetGalley, Entangled Amara and Elle Cruz for providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.