An Amazon Best of the Month Selection
A Library Journal Best Book of 2020
An Apple Books Best of the Month Selection
A Best Book of Fall 2020 by NPR’s Boston Affiliate
A Bookish Most Anticipated Books Selection
“An adorable retelling, engaging and character-rich...this kind of mutual empowering is one of Weatherspoon’s hallmarks.”
—The New York Times
“Heart-melting…a perfect fit for fans of contemporary romance authors Jasmine Guillory and Alexa Martin.”
From award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon comes a thoroughly modern take on the timeless tale of a struggling Cinderella who finds her prince charming at the eleventh hour—and the adventure that ensues the morning after . . .
Working as the personal assistant to one of Hollywood’s cruelest divas has left Amanda Queen more determined than ever to sell her screenplay and gain her independence. In the meantime, she’ll settle for a temporary escape. When her employer is felled by the flu on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, Amanda gets her glam on, struts out the door, and parties with the glitterati. But she never expects to come face to face—and closer than close—with one of the hottest stars in the game . . .
Following up his first Oscar win with a steamy after-hours romp with an enigmatic woman seems like the perfect way for actor Sam Pleasant to celebrate—until she suddenly disappears. Worse, she’s vanished with the wrong swag bag: the one containing his Oscar statue, leaving Sam even more intrigued about the beauty’s identity—and wondering if a repeat performance of their amazing night is in the stars. And when a second chance encounter happens, only a trip to Sam’s family ranch—and revealing the whole, not-always-glamorous, truth about themselves—will give them a chance to turn one magical night into forever . . .
“Wonderfully inventive…Uniting a heart-stopping hero and a plus-size heroine who knows her own worth, this steamy fairy tale shines.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
“One of romance’s brightest stars…[this is] a thoroughly modern Cinderella story.”
—Bookpage, Starred Review
“Another winner from rising star Weatherspoon.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
Release date: October 27, 2020
Print pages: 290
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If the Boot Fits: A Smart & Sexy Cinderella Story
The night before must have been a dream. There was no way her friend and rising A-list actress Helene Sawyer had scored her an invite to the Vanity Fair Oscar party. There’s no way she’d let her tag along to Kata and Rina’s A-list after-party. There was absolutely no freaking way she’d run into Samuel Pleasant at both events, and surely you’d be joking if you told her that sometime in the night she and Sam had completely hit it off. And that somehow he’d asked her back to his hotel room. She’d call you a bold-faced liar—to your face—if you even hinted at the idea that Amanda and Sam had slept together and that the sex had been top tier, mind-blowing even.
No. There was no way any of that had happened.
But then how did Amanda explain to herself how she’d woken up, still very naked and aroused, tangled in high-thread-count hotel sheets with now Oscar-winning actor Sam Pleasant? If she wasn’t afraid of making any sudden movements she’d pinch herself. His arm was still draped over her, his fingers resting on her breast. Slowly she turned her head and looked over at him, the dim light coming from the small part in the blackout curtains making it just bright enough to see. Sam was still very much asleep, snoring softly, his dark brown cheek pressed against the white pillow.
His skin was amazing, Amanda thought as she took in the dark lashes brushing those cheeks. She could spend all day looking at him and another night as well. Too bad she had to be at work in exactly ninety minutes. She didn’t need to look at her phone to see what time it was. Amanda woke up every single morning twenty minutes before her alarm. Call it peak readiness. She took pride in her work and the lessons both her parents had taught her. On time was late. And now, she was definitely going to be late.
Okay. First thing, extract yourself from the bed without waking Sam up. Then flee from his hotel room before you have a chance to exchange another word. They’d agreed, no names. As if she didn’t know who he was, but when he’d asked her name in the middle of her enthusiastic rendition of the cha-cha slide, she’d played it cool.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you. I’m dancing,” she’d said. He’d laughed. They’d danced some more and more, until it was time to go their separate ways. Or so she’d thought. It wasn’t until she’d gotten off the elevator and found him waiting right where he said he’d be, right outside of room 1020, that she’d realized this thing between them was actually happening. No, it wasn’t until he’d asked if it was okay if he kissed her, that he’d been wanting to all night, ever since she’d made that crack about doing the breaststroke through a chocolate fountain. (Listen, it was her first night out in almost six months and some very nice woman named Lisa had done a great job on her makeup. She was feeling a little peppy and loose.)
That kiss though, the soft slowness of it that had somehow managed to work its way through the pulsing excitement of the night and of Sam’s Oscar win, she’d felt something in that kiss. It had been the only reason she’d shimmied out of the sparkling gold and silver romper that she’d scored from the Forever 21 plus-size section. The only reason she’d been glad she was still carrying the emergency condoms she always did on her boss’s behalf. That kiss had only been proof that Sam Pleasant knew exactly how to treat a woman. He wasn’t too bad at the sex part either.
But none of that mattered now, because she had to be standing at the foot of her boss’s bed in exactly eighty-seven minutes.
Amanda glanced toward the floor and calculated just how loud of a thud she’d make if she rolled off the bed. Her mental math told her that would be the quickest way to wake Sam up. Slow and easy would be the way to go.
Carefully, oh so carefully, she eased to the side, pointing her foot toward the ground. When her toes made contact with the carpet, she gently lifted Sam’s hand and eased out from under his arm. She set his fingers in the warm spot she’d left behind, then quietly sat up and stood before pulling the covers back over his shoulders. She froze when he sniffed a bit, then rubbed his nose. Her heart started beating again when he rolled over and settled deeper into the sheets.
She quickly but quietly began to search the room for her things. Her jeans and shirt were back at Helene’s house up in the Hills. She’d have to worry about that later. She grabbed her sequin jumpsuit and her silver strappy sandals, then slipped into the bathroom, dressing in record time. Her bladder was screaming, but there was no way she could risk flushing the toilet. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to be the nasty ass who peed in Sam Pleasant’s hotel room and didn’t flush. She telegraphed the message to her bladder, just wait five more minutes, then she checked her face in the mirror. Thank God her makeup was barely smudged.
Normally she was good at being invisible. Every Hollywood assistant had mastered the skill—ever present, but never seen, never heard, and definitely never photographed. She hoped being Black, a size twenty, and not at all famous would reduce the chances of anyone noticing her walk of shame. Or should she say, strut of triumph? She’d definitely had sex with Sam Pleasant and that was worth celebrating. In any event, smudged makeup would attract someone’s attention. For now she was just your average Oscar night partygoer on their way home. With eighty-five minutes to spare before she had to be at work.
She crept back into the room and grabbed her clutch off the hotel desk, then grabbed the swag bag she’d received from the only post-award-show gifting suite Helene had managed to sneak her into. No way Amanda was leaving that behind. She’d investigate the full extent of her spoils once she got home. She did one final visual sweep of the room, then fled into the morning.
In the elevator she called for a Lyft. Jerod was five minutes away.
In the lobby things were still quiet. No one but people like Amanda woke up this early, the first-shifters who got other people’s days started for them. Amanda would be lying if she said she didn’t find a little thrill in it. Yeah, the work was thankless, but often she was the first to witness so many things. Things she couldn’t talk about, but still, she was always in the know.
She used the restroom, then stepped out into the predawn morning just as Jerod pulled up to the curb in front of the W Hotel.
“Fun night?” he asked as she buckled her seat belt.
“It was a great night. Thank you.”
“Well, let’s get you home.”
Fifteen minutes later, they pulled up to her place in Beverly Hills. Technically it was Beverly Hills, but not the rich, fancy, big mansion part most people thought of when they pictured the famous zip code, and the adorable cottage facing the street definitely wasn’t hers. She lived in the back. She tipped Jerod in the app, then hurried inside. She had just enough time to shower and shovel down a quick breakfast before she got on with her day.
She threw a frozen breakfast burrito in the microwave, fixed her triangle braids up in a high topknot, then hopped under the hot spray, where she scrubbed the night off her face. Quick lotion up and wardrobe change and she was almost ready to go.
She flopped down on her bed to pull on her Converse and accidentally knocked her after-party gift bag to the floor. It landed with a sickening thud that she was sure had dented the old hardwood floors. She picked up the bag and glanced inside, just to make sure her brand-new bits of expensive swag were okay.
And that’s when she realized her mistake.
She’d grabbed the wrong bag.
There was an iPhone in its crisp white box. Beside it was another box and beside that was a pristine Oscar statue.
“No, no, no, no, noooo.” Amanda carefully pulled the beautiful golden knight out of the bag and examined the envelope that had been lying beneath it.
“Oh my gosh. No!” This was not the time to panic, but of course she was panicking. She had to get the award back to Sam or Sam’s team, and she had to do it now.
Amanda fell back on the bed and googled frantically, looking for the name of Sam’s agent. She knew everyone who represented everyone in prime-time TV, but film stars were not her area of expertise. Not while her boss Dru Anastasia was still employed in the world of teen paranormal dramas. It took a few clicks and swipes, but she managed to find it. John Coffey at TCA. He shared an agency with Helene. Great. She swiped over to JackRabbit, the courier app she used at least twice a day, and scheduled a pickup for right outside Dru’s apartment building on Sunset. Hopefully, Sam was a late sleeper and the missing statue would be back in the right hands before he wondered where she’d gone.
With the pickup confirmed, she packed her bag for the day, making sure she didn’t forget Sam’s swag bag or his award, and hurried out to her midsize SUV parked out on the street.
Traffic and the parking gods were on her side. She made it to Delightly, Dru’s favorite restaurant, and found an empty meter right in front. She ducked in and grabbed Dru’s breakfast, then booked it over to her apartment building on the west end of the Sunset Strip. She had to park two blocks away, but if she power walked at just the right speed she would be two minutes early. Dru didn’t like to see her sweat.
She made it to the front door just as the JackRabbit driver pulled up. She handed off the heavy swag bag as soon as he rolled down the window of the white Prius.
“Please, please, please. Get this to the receptionist and tell her it’s for John Coffey. Samuel Pleasant’s Oscar statue is in there. He lost it last night. He needs to get it back,” she said, giving him a meaningful look. There was no room for error in this delivery or both their heads would roll.
“Oh shit,” he said, his eyes popping wide with horror. “Okay, got it. I’ll make sure I walk it right into her. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure she gets it.”
A smile forced her panic away as she watched him buckle the bag into the passenger seat beside him. He nodded to her with a little salute of his fingers and then pulled a U-turn back on to the street. She sent up a prayer for a safe delivery, then snapped back into work mode.
She headed to the front door and waved at the handsome face she saw through the thick glass doors. Francesco, the doorman, buzzed her in.
“Good morning, my Amanda,” he said with his warm accent as she nudged her way inside with her elbow. He was from New Jersey and his real name was Eric, but the tenants didn’t need to know that. The Italian lie seemed fancier. His secret was safe with her though.
“Good morning, my love. What’s the news?” she asked as she walked to the elevator. It was their little game. Fake headlines by Francesco.
“Hollywood starlet plummets to her death after heated affair ends in tragedy.”
“Oh no!” Amanda said dramatically. “Give me something more upbeat tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry, my dear. Only sunshine for you from now on.”
Amanda winked at him just as the elevator chimed. Five stories above, she quietly let herself into Dru Anastasia’s apartment. As she made her way into the kitchen, Gus, Dru’s woefully neglected Ragdoll cat, emerged from behind the island and wove his way between her feet.
“Hello, my precious. I didn’t forget about you.” She grabbed a can of wet food from under the counter and fed the sweet creature whose body mass was 90 percent fur.
When Amanda moved to LA five years ago she was determined to make it as a screenwriter, but that’s the thing about dreams. They rarely work out the way you want them to. She tried to work her way into a writers’ room, but something was always off. A job promised suddenly taken away, a project canceled. She’d gotten work as a production assistant and after a particularly bad day on set had her reconsidering her whole West Coast adventure, she’d met Kaidence Kener. She’d remembered her vaguely from her own brief run on the nineties beach drama Bay Guards. Her acting days were long behind her, but her daughter Dru was just getting started and Dru needed an assistant.
Amanda had told herself the job would just be temporary, a paycheck to keep a roof over her head and food in her stomach. She made a promise to herself that she wouldn’t give up on her writing. And she hadn’t. She stole whatever moments she could, jotting down bits and pieces on her phone and on her tablet. She’d finished two more screenplays in that time, but this gig, it had turned out to be anything but temporary. Somehow, she’d become Dru’s Girl Monday thru Saturday and definitely on Sundays if they were traveling. Kaidence put her to work whenever she felt Amanda was idle, organizing her closet or researching new avenues for Dru to explore on social media.
The money was good and it covered her health insurance, but it wasn’t her dream. One day she’d move on. She just wasn’t sure when or how.
Her phone vibrated as she set Dru’s breakfast out on her favorite bamboo serving tray. She pulled it out of her pocket and looked at the text from Helene.
Helene added an eggplant, a water-squirting, and a peach emoji, in that order. Amanda covered her snort, then slipped her phone back into her pocket. She grabbed the tray, then carried it into Dru’s darkened room.
“Nnhgggg,” Dru groaned as she covered her head with her pillow.
Dru sat up and tossed her pillow across the room. There were still a dozen more on the bed to keep her comfortable. “What’s so good about it?” she snapped.
“Oh, you sound so much better.”
“And you’re too fucking cheery. Dial it back like five notches, will you.” Dru rubbed her eyes, then grabbed the remote for her curtains. Sunlight flooded the room.
“Happiness keeps you healthy and I need to be healthy for you,” Amanda said. She was absolutely joking, but she knew her sickly sweet personality drove Dru crazy. Killing her slowly with kindness was part of her retirement plan. She set down the tray on Dru’s wide night table. “Here’s your breakfast when you’re ready. If you’re feeling up to it, Sage will meet you at the yoga studio in thirty minutes or I can call her and cancel.”
“No. I need to go. I’ve been in bed too long. My muscles are going to atropy.”
“Whatever, you knew what I meant.”
“And I think it takes a little longer than a weekend for that to happen. I’ll text her and let her know you’re on your way.”
“Gee thanks, you’re the best, Mandy,” Dru said sarcastically, knowing full well how much she hated that nickname. Amanda let the insult slide off her back because she knew what came next. Dru pulled her soft purple blanket up to the bottom of her chin. “Tell the whole truth. Do I look that bad?”
“You look beautiful,” Amanda replied, and it was the truth. Dru’s stunning natural beauty was the thing that landed her on three successful television dramas back-to-back, a nearly unfathomable feat for a young Black actress in Hollywood, even if she was light skinned with green eyes. Currently she played an intergalactic vampire queen on the show Andromeda. Her character, Kalexa, was known throughout more than one universe for her stunning gaze and luscious lips. This morning, however, Her Majesty looked a little rough. Whatever bug had knocked her on her ass had done a number on her. Her edges could use a little control and her lips were dry, but most people would kill to look like Dru Anastasia even with a few bags under their eyes.
“I’d brush my teeth and throw in some lip gloss before I posted any selfies, but you’re still a ten.”
“Thanks. Please get out of my room.”
Amanda grabbed the pile of dirty clothes off the floor and carried them down to the laundry room before she went to hop on her morning call with Kaidence. Sam’s laugh popped into her head as she made her way down to the other end of the apartment. She smiled to herself, thinking about the way he’d kissed her, the way he’d felt on top of her.
Today it didn’t matter how nasty Dru was or how many absurd tasks Kaidence threw her way. For one night, she’d gotten to be that girl, not just a D-list actress’s lowly assistant. The night she’d spent with Sam Pleasant might carry her to the end of the year. Or at least until the Teen Choice Awards.
Sam Pleasant couldn’t remember the last time he’d woken up with a smile on his face. Today his mood before he even opened his eyes could only be described as good as fuck. He could still hear the sound of her laugh over the thumping music, feel her soft skin as his fingers trailed down her wrist. He stretched with a sigh, then rolled over to see if he could interest his new lady friend in some room service and possibly round two before they both started their day.
But of course she was gone. What did he expect from a post-award-show one-night hookup? Not that there was anything wrong with the one and done, but he’d had such a good time with her—even before they’d made it back to the hotel—he’d already made up his mind that he wanted to see her again.
Disappointment flooded through him as he looked at the empty side of the bed, now cold like he hadn’t spent the night with one of the most beautiful girls he’d ever laid eyes on. He glanced around the room, hoping to spot a note or something, but all he saw was his Gucci suit placed over the hotel room chair. He smiled again, knowing full well who had set it there. He had vivid memories of dropping it on the floor piece by piece as he and Cha-Cha made their way to the bed.
He’d called her Cha-Cha in his head all night. But now he wished he’d gotten her real name. And her number. It didn’t have to be a thing, but . . . he didn’t want it to be over just yet.
Apparently, she didn’t feel the same way. Sam tried to shake off the rejection as he stood and made his way to the bathroom. He found his boxer briefs under the cover at the foot of the bed, then checked his phone. It flooded with texts and calls. He let out a deep breath and scrubbed a hand over his face as he scrolled to the text messages from his assistant, Walls.
He switched back over to his text inbox. Looking over the congratulations and well wishes from friends and colleagues and castmates and a few unknown numbers, he still couldn’t fucking believe it. He was now Oscar-winning actor Samuel Pleasant. He couldn’t put the way he felt into words. He had another two years before he saw his thirtieth birthday, but he’d been working toward that golden statue his whole life.
When his agent had brought the script for The Sky Beneath Our Feet to him, Sam had had his doubts. The story of the first recorded slave revolt needed to be told. It was a part of America’s history, his history, but like many other young Black actors, Sam was torn about telling another painful story of the Black experience. The part they wanted him for wasn’t the lead, and the true event had also involved white indentured servant. . .
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