Romancing the Dustman’s Daughter by Ruth J Hartman

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Augustus Sinclair has a broken heart. His betrothed has dropped him for his best friend. Former best friend. When he meets Anne Balfour, though, he questions whether he’d ever really been in love with his fiancé. Some of Anne’s reactions to what he considers everyday activities are puzzling, but that doesn’t stop him from falling head over heels for the first time in his life.

Anne Balfour is amazed to be a guest at the Shrewsbury’s, one of Mayfair’s most well-to-do families – even if the circumstances are less than ideal. Still, she can’t help but get caught up in the excitement of society life. Especially when in the company of Augustus Sinclair. He makes her believe in love and romance, even if she is just the dustman’s daughter.

Publisher and Release Date: EsKape Press, November 2013

RHR Classifications:

Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Persephone

This novel is based on the theme of Cinderella, but minus the ugly sisters. Nonetheless, a thoroughly unpleasant anti-heroine makes this a lively read. And Ruth Hartman’s heroine is every bit an angel: in more ways than one.

While Anne Balfour’s opportunistic-minded father has an eye to upping his status by cunning means, Anne is less than enthusiastic at being forced to do his bidding. But she loves her father most dearly, and despite fears of ineptitude in the ways of society ladies, she steps over the fine line of blackmail alongside her forceful father.

Soon her fortunes change, but for the better or worse, is at first, impossible to tell. The transformation from dustman’s daughter to assumed role as cousin to Constance Shrewsbury – a young lady of note – involves every stage of the process of presenting the correct image of a sophisticated young lady. But can a young girl from a humble background ever convince the young men of the beau monde,that she is indeed a young lady worthy of marriage to one of their ilk?

From gowns to dressed hair, the miracle begins to take shape. But, Anne is merely a fake cousin to Constance, and is mercilessly subject to the whims of the fair-haired and sophisticated Constance, who has no intention of being outshone by a dark, sultry maiden. Hence, Anne despises the array of gowns she must wear for formal outings, and suffers the indignity of sniggering female socialites who parade at balls and social gatherings. On the other hand, of the men Anne encounters by accident of time and place and or formal introduction, all prove quite taken with her natural and engaging demeanour. But one encounter with a gauche young man then sets her apart from the other ladies, and the hero, Augustus Sinclair, admires her charming response to his friend’s dilemma. Constance, though, cannot bear to see her ex-beau escorting Anne, and when Constance’s vanity is at stake she’s a formidable and malicious character.

With the dream suddenly at end, and not hers in the first place, Anne is devastated and seeks comfort in her former dreary existence. If only fairytale wishes were possible, her prince would seek her out and all would be well. But how is that possible, and why would he? Well, suffice to say there is a touching and fittingly happy-ever-after for the dustman’s daughter. And I have to say, this novel was a lovely read. Defining the era depicted was almost impossible as, to be quite honest, it can be read as a Georgian, Regency or a Victorian period fairytale. But that is immaterial. My advice: just let your imagination go with the flow.

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