From Cinderella to Countess (Harlequin Historical)

Written by Annie Burrows
Review by Ray Thompson

When Lady Bradbury tells her paid companion, ‘Men like him… never marry girls like you,’ Eleanor Mitcham is mortified. True, she does admire Lord Lavenham, her employer’s great-nephew, and she enjoys their lively conversation when he visits, but expectations of a marriage offer? To ‘plain, practical Eleanor’? Yet that is exactly what happens.

The path to matrimony, however, is not only circuitous, but a tour of some favorite romance motifs. Distressed by the hero’s cynical view of marriage, the heroine flees into the night, gets lost in fog, is saved from freezing to death and carried off to London by a manipulative Dowager Duchess; disguised and launched into high society, she is stalked by her disgruntled suitor, only to end up basically where she started: an unappreciated caregiver, this time in her vicar uncle’s household. What saves this Regency from melodrama is the pattern of tongue-in-cheek irony that underlies her misadventures, the self-honesty of the protagonists, and their ability to learn from painful mistakes. But have they learned enough? Is she ready to reject passivity and take control of her life? He to care for others? Both to risk disappointment by taking a chance at love? Recommended.