My Lady Governess
This is a book without any of those “pet peeves” that can kill a story. There are no stolen aristocratic babies, no whiny heroines, no cruel heroes and no annoying historical anachronisms. There is one plot and the kitchen sink is nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, My Lady Governess is a Regency Romance that still reads as though it were written by-the-book. Nothing in this book excites, intrigues or challenges the reader. The plot is a bit threadbare and the hero and heroine don’t seem much at odds. None of the characters seem to have been drawn from life, with the story risks that would entail. Instead, both the hero and heroine, and their conversations, feel as though you’ve read them before, in other routine Regencies.
At the start of My Lady Governess, heiress Lady Elinor Richards discovers that if she doesn’t do something drastic, she will be forced to marry an elderly opportunist out for her fortune. Elinor has a year to go until she is twenty-five and in control of her money, and so she decides to disappear. The solution to the problem is to gain a position as a governess using the name and references of Miss Palmer, her old governess and loyal friend.
Posing as Miss Palmer, Elinor soon has a position in the household of Adrian Whitson, Marquis of Trenville. In her job taking care of Adrian’s children, Elinor ends up spending much time with Adrain, and observes that he is a wonderful and devoted father.
Adrian has an important role with the Foreign Office. Not long after Elinor arrives, important secret information begins to leak to the French from the Marquis’s home. Elinor, with her surprisingly well-cut clothing and impressive education, is an unavoidable suspect. While Adrian is attracted to Elinor, he is not only concerned that she may be a spy, but he has also vosed never again to marry. Adrian’s first wife was a beautiful bore and he doesn’t wish to risk another unhappy relationship.
Both Elinor and Adrian seemed to come out of Regency central casting. Elinor, bright, unconventional and something of a bluestocking, delights in charming the children in her care. She has to work to avoid exposing her aristoctratic roots and gets a taste of what it’s like to be neither a servant nor a mistress. Adrian, handsome, intelligent and utterly correct, is determined not to take advantage of a young woman in his employ. Its all terribly civilized and one doesn’t feel much romantic tension between these two. Furthermore, conversations that are clearly meant to show Elinor’s quick wit and education are neither particularly witty nor surprisingly literate.
The revelation of the identity of the spy is predictable, as is the reaction of Adrian’s snobbish mother to the discovery that “Miss Palmer” is, in fact Lady Elinor.
I can’t say that I really disliked this book but there was nothing in it to make me particularly enthusiastic. In her first book, Willed to Wed, Wilma Counts started with a routine plot and made it come to life with two interesting and passionate people who did and said things that made you understand their attraction. Sadly, My Lady Governess is a far more commonplace book. Nevertheless, Count’s writing style is smooth and her history convincing. Readers who enjoy Regency Romance and don’t mind being able to foretell every aspect of a story might enjoy it.