The Rags-to-Riches Governess
The Rags-to-Riches Governess is the first in Janice Preston’s Lady Tregowan’s Will series. Miss Leah Thame is summoned to a solicitor’s office with the promise she will miss the opportunity of a lifetime if she doesn’t show up at the appointed time. Two other women arrive shortly after Leah does, and the solicitor announces he will be reading the will of the late Lady Tregowan. He reveals that the three women are in fact half-sisters and that while they all have different mothers, Lord Tregowan was their real father. Lady Tregowan has left a fortune for the sisters, but each must spend the next Season in London and must marry within a year if she’s to keep her share of the fortune. With this knowledge, Leah returns to her position as governess to Lord Dolphinstone’s children. Lord Dolphinstone – Dolph – has recently returned from an extended trip he took following the death of his wife, and Leah resolves to remain in her position and allow the children time to become reacquainted with their father.
Dolph is carrying a terrible secret: his wife Rebecca committed suicide and he believes it was his fault. He thinks he didn’t pay Rebecca enough attention, and that if he had, he would’ve been able to prevent her death – and as a result, he has vowed never to remarry so that he won’t make another woman miserable. Then Dolph meets again the governess he hired in a hurry before he left, and finds himself very attracted to her.
The Rags-to-Riches Governess got off to a great start. Leah learns she’s an heiress, has two half-sisters, and that she’ll need to marry within one year, then she goes back to Dolphin Court to find her employer has finally returned on the one day she’s taken off in a year. There was so much drama that I couldn’t stop turning the pages. And then the middle happened, and instead of dialogue and character interaction, there was lots and lots of description and characters having the same thoughts over and over. I could only read about Dolph’s guilt and how unworthy he feels of any woman so many times before it became repetitive and boring. Fortunately, things pick up towards the end as Leah is reunited with her sisters and I looked forward to finding out how she and Dolph would resolve their issues. Once again, I found myself unable to stop turning pages, and the resolution was very satisfying.
As far as the characters themselves went, I liked them both. Leah is a strong woman just trying to make it on her own, and she takes the news that she’s an heiress in stride and doesn’t lose sight of her true self. Dolph is a good man who has made mistakes (such as leaving his children when they needed him most) but is determined to set those wrongs to right. It was a pleasure to see him become a part of his children’s lives.
One of my favorite parts of this book was George, Dolph’s often oblivious friend. He was often a bit of comic relief but by the end, he’d also experienced some personal growth and had become a different person. Part of me was hoping he’d have his own story, but his romance within this romance was enjoyable.
While the middle lagged a bit, the beginning and ending of The Rags-to-Riches Governess more than made up for that deficit and kept me reading. I am greatly looking forward to Leah’s half-sisters’ stories!