Seducing the Governess
I’m predisposed to like governess books. In the eternal Jane Eyre v. Wuthering Heights debate, I’m firmly in the Jane Eyre camp, and I think most governess romances owe a little something to Jane. But Seducing the Governess is not all that noteworthy. Neither dreadful nor wonderful, it’s your typical C read.
Mercy Franklin has been raised by a dour minister and his wife, but really she’s the granddaughter of a duke. Her grandfather disinherited her mother when Mercy was just a baby, and when both Mercy’s parents died, he led others to believe he was going to take charge of Mercy and her twin sister. Instead he separated them and paid other people to take them. Why did he do this? I never could figure that out. Anyway, he is now on his deathbed, and has decided to look for his missing granddaughters.
Mercy has no idea that she is of noble birth, because her adoptive parents led her to believe that her mother was a strumpet, and she was likely to suffer the same fate if she didn’t watch her step. After both adoptive parents died, Mercy has no means to support herself, so she decides to become a governess, taking the only position she can find. En route to her new home, she is practically run over by a group of disreputable-looking men on horseback. As she is still sitting, dazed, in the middle of the road, another man comes along on horseback. She startles the horse, and the rider is thrown. He impertinently asks for her assistance to make sure his leg isn’t injured.
The scandalous gentleman turns out to be her employer, Nash Farris – Lord Ashby. Lord Ashby has only recently inherited his earldom after the death of both his brothers. One of them left a young daughter, Emmaline (hence the need for a governess). Nash’s estate needs a lot of work, which requires money he doesn’t have. So he needs to marry an heiress – which proves to be an inconvenient problem, as he soon falls in love Mercy.
The story unfolds about as you would expect. Nash likes Mercy almost immediately, but strongly considers marrying the daughter of a wealthy neighbor. He pursues Mercy, even knowing it’s a bad idea. He also investigates his brothers’ deaths, which in retrospect, appear more than a little suspicious.
There’s nothing wrong with all this, really. Nash is mostly a nice guy. Mercy is sincere in her efforts to help her young charge, and she’s drawn to Nash in spite of her better judgement. They run into each other in candlelit corridors, and share romantic moments.
The problem is that it all feels more than a little like something you’ve read before. Not in the plagiarism sense, mind you – just in the been there, done that sense. No compelling character or riveting plot makes you yearn to turn the pages or read into the night. It’s all just average.
So I wouldn’t warn anyone away, exactly. But I would say that there is no reason to go out of your way, unless perhaps you’re the most die-hard governess book fan ever. Others would do better to search for something a little more – well, noteworthy.