Plain Jane O’Reilly is good at being unnoticed. Detested by her stepmother and teased by her stepsisters, Jane has learned the art of avoiding attention. That is until Price Moreland, an American with big dreams, arrives in her small town.
Does she dare to hope someone might notice her?
However, Price Moreland may not be the prince that the whole town thinks him to be. Was his desire to be a missionary a God-given call, or just a good excuse to run from his past?
Complete with an evil stepmother, a missing shoe and a grand ball, Unnoticed takes the time-old Cinderella fairy tale and gives it an Australian twist.
I’m a fan of the Cinderella romance trope and enjoyed reading Unnoticed. The story is set in the 1870’s in Hay, a small Australian town in the western Riverina region of NSW.
Jane O’Reilly is your classic Cinderella heroine. She lost her beloved mother when she was young and her father remarried a woman with two daughters. Jane’s stepmother has no qualms about treating Jane as if she is a second class citizen and her personal slave. Jane’s father seems to turn a blind eye to his wife’s blatant favouritism of her own daughters over Jane.
Jane has very low self esteem that’s reinforced by the horrible treatment she receives from her stepmother and stepsisters. Her Aunt Ruby, who is their cook and her stepmother’s sister, is one of the few people who treats Jane with respect and dignity.
Forced by her stepmother to dress in old and ugly clothing, the townsfolk of Hay call her ‘Plain Jane’ and treat her as if she’s the town joke. Jane believes she’s ugly and feels powerless to change her life circumstances.
Price Moreland is an American who recently moved to Hay. He sets up a Barber and Dental Surgery in town but his main goal is to share the gospel with the unchurched townsfolk in Hay. He has a complicated relationship with his wealthy rancher father and is troubled by his experiences of living in the south during the American Civil War.
Price meets Jane when she turns up at his dental surgery with an infected tooth. He’s the prince charming who is intrigued by Jane and sees both her inner and outer beauty. Jane struggles to believe she can be worthy of Price. They become friends and a sweet romance develops between them as they overcome many obstacles in the story.
Their spiritual journeys are explored and the faith element in the story is both overt and compelling. Price and Jane are challenged on a spiritual level and draw on Biblical truths to resolve their faith issues.
The story addresses social issues of inequality and racism in both Australia and the USA. My husband has Chinese ancestors who migrated to Australia during the 1850’s Gold Rush and lived in the Riverina region of NSW. My personal connection to the setting added to my interest in the social class dynamics in the story.
I recommend Unnoticed to readers who like historical Christian romances set in Australia.