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Plain, lame Ellie Lytton isn’t destined for marriage. She’s perfectly content being her stepbrother’s housekeeper… Until the high-handed Earl of Hainford arrives with shocking news–her stepbrother has been killed!
Ellie believes the earl is responsible for her plight and that he is duty bound to escort her on the journey to her new home. But soon Blake’s fighting an unwanted attraction to his argumentative companion… And when she needs protection, he determines he’ll keep her safe–by making Ellie his countess!
Please ignore the silly blurb. it’s a much better book than it makes it sound.
Of course I liked this book. Louise Allen is a favourite of mine, and she is so comfortable in Regency England that it makes her readers comfortable, too. The Cinderella trope isn’t exactly original, but the way Allen writes it makes all the difference.
We have a downtrodden and traumatised heroine who is also mature and strong without being a silly, flouncy, anachronistic Disney princess. She has her pride, and follows Regency manners (for the most part), holding her head high and staying quiet at slights and insults, and keeping her dignity.
The hero is honest: he can’t see anything appealing about her at first, but he is also kind to her when she literally has nobody else, and when she loses her home due to her stepbrother’s poor investments – and early death.
The relationship develops well, and at a slower pace that seems believable. The heroine tries her best to “fix” herself for him when they marry, which he discovers after the event – and to his horror. There is also a theme of overcoming abuse, which was handled well and without melodramatics.
Overall, this was another excellent book by one of the genre’s most reliable authors.
If you’re going to do a Cinderella theme, this is how is should be done.