Follow three best friends who navigate love and independence as governesses in Regency England (This publisher! This book is no more set in the Regency era than 2016 is set during Bill Clinton’s first term as US President! Ugh!) in this delightfully charming instalment in the Governesses series.
Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her focus and avoiding temptation has been easy. But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten…. Convinced to risk it all, Mary let’s herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten’s arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?
This is the second in a trilogy of shorter historical romances, set in the Victorian era, and featuring governesses. I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series, and even managed to not get too upset about the Cinderella themes (my issues with Cinderella stories discussed HERE). This heroine is in her early thirties, and the hero has a daughter who is seventeen, so the characters are a little older than in most books – I liked it.
On the other hand, there are some glaring historical and language mistakes, and there is still too much mental lusting for me – in fact, there’s more of it in this series than any other I’ve read.
I have to mention this first, because it nearly made me DNF the book: construction of Tower Bridge began three decades after this book is set (it’s set in 1857), and the bridge was not opened until 1894, nearly forty years after the story ends.
So why were the characters mentioning it?
I’ve heard there’s one infamous historical romance where the characters visit the Eiffel Tower several decades before it was constructed, and this is the same thing. It’s like setting your book in the Great Depression and having your characters discuss the Vietnam War. Or like setting your book during the Vietnam War and having your characters reference September Eleven.
In the end, I found a lot to enjoy in this story, even though so many of the female characters are presented in a negative light (this being a Cinderella story). I think it was more readable than the first book, and even though the sex scenes happened at inappropriate times (with the heroine happily throwing her virginity away even though it might have meant total ruin for her), they were better than in the first instalment.
The daughter was the most interesting character for me, and I’d actually have liked to see more of her romance. I think recently I’ve been suffering from sex-overload in my reading, and have been wanting to read sweeter stories. So I really liked the secondary characters and their more traditionally Victorian-era pairing.
When it came to the main couple, the mental lusting was not my thing. I don’t want the hero to be fantasising about sucking the heroine’s breasts five minutes after they’ve met – and in the middle of a conversation about his daughter’s problems.
And I certainly don’t want them to go from zero to oral sex in the space of one waltz and half a conversation! That’s not romance.
I thought the same thing with the first book: there’s such a good story here, but this constant push for sex, and sex, and thoughts about sex, and rushing a full romance into something only novella-length is where the story struggles. Historical novellas can be wonderful, but once sex is brought into the short timeframe they tend to become unrealistic, and the romance suffers.
There’s more US English than I liked to see in my England-set books (and it’s a BEETROOT, not a “beet”), but it didn’t distract me as much as usual (I could do with “off of” being made illegal, however – it’s just OFF!).
Having now read two of the three books in this series, I have decided the author is very good at what she does. HOWEVER, there is no need for all the lusting and premature sex, and if that was removed, this would be a much more enjoyable series.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.