Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92594-4
Historical Romance, 2017
Marrying His Cinderella Countess has a very interesting premise that promises lots of drama. Ellie Lytton’s stepbrother holds all the strings in the family, and he is not a nice man. Still, when he is killed in an accidental shooting, she blames our hero William Blakeford Pencarrow, the Earl of Hainford, for the state of penury she finds herself in. You see, the shooter wanted to aim at Blake, but oops, the dolt missed and ended up hitting Francis instead. Now, Ellie is totally broke because Francis spent all his money trying to live the high life like his idol Blake when he’s not investing in schemes that ended up being money sinks.
She blames Blake for (a) not advising Francis on his investments, and (b) not paying attention to Francis and instead goading the shooter into taking up the gun and going bang bang bang. So, when she has to move to the only property she has – one that Francis can’t wager or sell – in the country, she writes a letter demanding that Blake loan her his carriage to move there, so that she can save costs and keep her maid a little longer. To her surprise, he agrees. And we all know fun things can happen on long journeys.
Sounds good, doesn’t it, the premise? Unfortunately, the story soon degenerates into a tale of pride and stubbornness running amok. Now, I know, we romance readers will go into seizures when a heroine dares to fail the purity test, but the author goes to such lengths to prove that Ellie is not some money-grubbing ho despite her penury that the heroine comes off as demented instead. Oh, and the author makes Ellie an author but for some reason, the income from that must be so little that she has to depend completely on Blake’s charity. Weird. Anyway, despite the fact that Blake is willing to give her money, our heroine can’t have that kind of charity thrown at her, of course, to the point that Blake decides to marry her to save her from herself. I wish I’m kidding.
Following that, Blake will spend ages moaning about how he once failed some woman who loved him but died before he realized that he cared for her too. Ellie, of course, will spend an eternity whining that he will never love her so she’s going to make everyone’s life miserable in the process. I wonder about that one, because there’s really nothing here to stop Blake from walking out and cutting off any financial support to Ellie if she pushes him too far, and Ellie won’t have much recourse should that happens. And yet, our heroine just acts like some modern day petulant girl-child who won’t settle for anything less than an outright declaration of love, and she even holds Blake’s apparent affections for that dead woman as some sign that he doesn’t love her. Because, I suppose, a man must love her and only her.
So, this story hurdles down a painfully boring route in which all kinds of wrong assumptions occur because both characters are determined to be martyrs to a situation that they both willingly go into – all the way to nearly the last page, mind you. And the payoff isn’t even fun – the author comes up with bewilderingly simplistic resolutions that turn these two from emo groaners to sunshine and butterflies with a wave of her hand, and I don’t buy any of it. I don’t even see why Ellie and Blake are in love, as both are more invested in playing up the other person’s supposed inability to love making them all blue and hurt inside.
This is one couple that get the most joy out of being miserable, and hey, more power to them. I’ll just move on to something more interesting.