Recommended Read, Review

Review: Governess Gone Rogue by Laura Lee Guhrke (2019)

Dear Lady Truelove, Book 3

Heat Factor: steamy

Character Chemistry: Yes

Plot: Governess with a secret…and another secret

Overall: Read it!

I read this book in one sitting. Now I am both tired and bummed that the book is over, so this seems to have been a bad decision on my part. I just could not stop.

LLG doesn’t tend to get wild with plot lines, so here we have the destitute governess looking for work after being turned off without a character and the wintery and remote widower with unruly sons desperately in need of an emotional rescue. She does seem to like playing with power dynamics and making use of this period in the late 19th century when women and society were changing along with the rise of industry and the middle class. The period allows for settling a modern woman in a historic setting and not having a result that is jarringly anachronistic. A bold woman who flouts convention might be a fun heroine, but she likely won’t be a believable one in a Regency novel. The aristocracy also must contend with the rise of a new power class of wealthy businessmen. It’s a great period for setting a romance novel.

Jamie, Lord Kenyon is at his wit’s end because his wild sons keep running off their nannies (and other servants as well), so he decides he needs to find them a tutor who will prepare them academically for Harrow. He comes to this point when he is horrified to learn from Viscount Galbraith (The Trouble with True Love) that his sons have written to advice columnist Lady Truelove about finding a new mother. While he and Galbraith are discussing his situation in the newspaper office, a destitute Miss Amanda Leighton in need of a position overhears their conversation as she writes an advertisement for her services. Jamie declares that a woman could never prepare his sons for a Harrow and Cambridge education, which irritates and goads Amanda because she is Cambridge educated and had been a successful educator herself until falling in love (and sleeping) with the wrong man.

At first, Amanda wishes she could pursue the tutor position but doesn’t consider trying to get it. Then she goes home and really feels the unfairness of her situation. She’s on the brink of complete destitution. She’s well educated, but she’s not a man, so she can’t be a tutor. She’s a woman, so having an affair results in unemployment forever for her while no one would look sideways at a man. In a fit of desperate pique, Amanda cuts her hair and decides to go interview for the tutor position.

The interview does not go well. Amanda is far too cheeky and far too young in appearance. Jamie is desperate for someone to have a steadying influence on his sons, but they’re acting out because they want his attention and he’s really unwilling to spend time with them. Since he lost his adored wife, he’s buried himself in the business of being an MP, and all his energies are devoted to that. The tutor he does hire quits after three days, but Jamie is about to leave town on business and happens to run across Amanda a second time, so he hires her spontaneously and leaves.

Jamie redeems himself rather shortly by realizing that he’s just left his beloved sons in the care of an employee he doesn’t know at all, freaking out, canceling his trip, and hying back to London. Amanda thought she’d have three weeks to settle in and get the boys a little bit disciplined, so she’s surprised to see Jamie back so soon, but now their relationship can really start to develop. As a man, Amanda gets to speak to Jamie in direct ways that she would not be able to do as a woman.

Before long, Jamie finds out Amanda is a woman. This scene is marvelous, by the way:

Startled, appalled by his own body, he jerked, sucking in a sharp breath as an insane realization flashed into his mind, and as [Amanda’s] hands fell away, he knew with sudden, awful clarity just what was wrong and what he was really looking at.

‘‘Good God.” He jumped back, staring at the face before him as if he’d never seen it before, the truth hitting him like a splash of freezing water, even as the heat of arousal flamed in his body. “You’re a woman!”

“Well I can’t help that!” [Amanda] countered crossly. “It’s not like I had a choice!”

It was such a nonsensical reply that Jamie laughed in disbelief.

So of course he fires her for lying, but it doesn’t last. Already she’s made an impression on his sons, and his servants are desperate not to lose another of the children’s caretakers. Also everyone in the household comes to understand that Amanda’s situation is quite dire, and they all make Jamie feel guilty for firing her without pay or a character reference, which is quite satisfying. He agrees to give her a second chance and orders her to explain herself, so she tells him about her most recent position as a governess where she left precipitously because her (widower) employer wouldn’t take no for an answer. Jamie tells her she has nothing to fear from him (which is true, she doesn’t have anything to fear, but please, the sparks are already flying), but declares she cannot lie again, so of course she omits the much worse part of her history, which is that she is the notorious Miss Amanda Leighton (she’s using a different surname) who was fired from her job at a prestigious school for girls when she was found in flagrante delicto by the headmistress in the middle of the day, out of doors.

What will happen? What you think will happen! But it’s so well done. OF COURSE the cad who seduced her and refused to marry her reappears and threatens trouble. OF COURSE Amanda decides she has to leave Jamie’s household because she loves Jamie and his sons. OF COURSE A and J have absolutely soul shattering, fantastically hot sex before A confesses. OF COURSE J — actually, things don’t all fall apart in a giant misunderstanding, which I appreciated so much I could hardly contain my relief. Jamie insists on an explanation before letting A leave, and when she confesses, he can’t really counter her arguments that marrying her would ruin his career in Parliament and would adversely impact his sons’ futures. So she walks out the door and doesn’t look back. Will they be able to work it out?!?!


Buy Now: Amazon

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