The Awakening Heart by Dorothy Mack
Probably the best Dorothy Mack I've read! The romance was slow going that develops from not-so much enemies to friends to more.
Dinah Elcott was an unusual heroine. Who was so contained all her life by a father that pretty much left her in his sister's care, and a aunt that really couldn't care less about her niece's welfare. Dinah finds all she wants in needs in her art, she loses herself in brush strokes of colors, in the dancing of light off a lake surface. She finds no real need for human contact as she's had to live without anyone count on anyways.
So when she's sent to London in order to gain some town bronze and perhaps be married off, Dinah finds this an opportunity to improve her art. Only she has zero social skills, that makes her come across as a snob, spoiled girl.
While her hostess tries to bring Dinah out of her shell, her hostess cousin-in-law ,Charles Talbot, uses force with his barb wit and a little manipulation of her art study to get her out in the world.
While Charles starts to see Dinah as more, he's not sure she sees him but anything but a Uncle. This brings Charles out his own shell he's being hiding and try again at love.
Dinah really comes to her own, from a socially awkward young woman, to a woman who gets wooed by a fortune hunter to falling in love with someone who loves her for herself. You can see how she grows. It's not a rush job either, the change doesn't happen overnight. This I truly apprenticed, as some heroines tend to turn from ugly ducking to swan overnight. Not for Dinah, she tends to stay the same, but opens up more to people and has something she hasn't had before. People to turn to, a friend.
Charles on the other hand could be an ass when he thought his friends were being taking for a ride and this was without knowing the whole facts. He could also be a bit pushy. This of course changes as the story moves on, but it's when Dinah suffers her first heartbreak does he see her as more then a charity case but a woman he's come to truly care for and wants to protect.
Their road to a happy ever after isn't easy, but nothing worth fighting for is, and with a slight misunderstanding toward the ending that somewhat dragged the story down a little. I overall enjoyed this wonderful story. It had alot of depth without being bogged down with unnecessary ploys, showing alot of amazing growth between two wonderful characters.