Thursday, June 24, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: When a Duke Loves a Governess by Olivia Drake

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Olivia Drake’s Unlikely Duchesses series are fun Regency Romances. See my previous review of Forever My Duke (Book two).  The third book is When a Duke Loves a Governess

Tessa James is the illegitimate daughter of a housemaid and an unknown member of the aristocracy. Her mother died in an accident when Tessa was only six, and she was raised in an orphanage/workhouse, then apprenticed at age fourteen to a milliner. She has been saving her pennies for years, hoping to earn enough to set up her own millinery shop, but realizes she’ll never save enough. So, she’ll have to locate the father who seduced then abandoned her mother, and convince him to loan her the money. The only clue she has about his identity is a gold locket given to her by her mother, with a small coat of arms on the back.

While working at the hat shop, Tessa overhears two ladies gossiping about the duke of Carlin, a widower with a four-year-old daughter. They say the duke has lost yet another governess, because his daughter is an impossible brat. Of course, he’ll soon be seeking another.

Tessa resolves to present herself for the position in order to get her foot in the door of “the ton” to search for clues about her father’s identity. Although she’s not technically qualified and is certainly not of the correct social class, she does have experience caring for children (in the orphanage), and she has some experience with society (eavesdropping at the shop.) But she can’t use those credentials, so she lies.

Carlin is underwhelmed by Tessa’s interview and doesn’t quite believe her story, but she is persuasive and he’s desperate, so he agrees to give her a week’s trial. She does have a way with the girl, so one week extends to another, despite the fact that he learns much of what Tessa told him was untrue.

Carlin is extraordinarily virile and handsome (naturally) and Tessa is beautiful and spirited (naturally.) She helps him connect with his daughter. Moreover, she connects with him. She’s interested in his scientific endeavors. (He spent the last four years traveling the globe, collecting plants and animals to study. He’d never expected to become duke; he was fourth in line to inherit, but a series of accidents and illness left him with the title.) He’s forgiving of her falsehoods and intrigued by her mysterious past. Before long, they are fooling around, despite both of them knowing the relationship can go nowhere.

The plot is busy, with thievery and possible murder alongside the progression of the romance, the reconciliation between Carlin and his daughter, and Tessa’s search for her father. But the author pulls it all together in the end. The hero is sensitive. The heroine is clever and brave. Although the situations are contrived, it’s Romance! I’ll keep following this series.

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