Tuesday 16 October 2018

#CBR10 Book 86: "The Governess Game" by Tessa Dare

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

From Goodreads, because I'm a month and a half behind on my reviews:
After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

Tessa Dare is one of my go-to authors for fun, escapist romance. Last year, The Duchess Deal, the first book in this series, got me out of a long reading slump and delighted me thoroughly. There are still elements of it that I think about occasionally. As is often the case with her books, there was a whole lot of pretty anachronistic crazy, but it worked for me on every level. Having an ever more active and demanding baby doesn't so much get in the way of me reading as much as I used to, but it doesn't leave a lot of time for me to review books as I used to have. Hence, I'm way behind on my reviews again and with this book, less than two months after I finished it, I barely remember a thing about it.

There are plot moppets, adorable young orphan girls who have met disappointment time and time again. By the time Alexandra becomes their reluctant governess, they have driven away countless former applicants. Every morning, our hero and heroine are forced to take part in the solemn funeral of Millicent the doll, who is killed off with an extremely varied array of maladies, I'm not entirely sure that orphaned young women knew that many horrible ways to kill someone off. The youngest girl definitely has a Wednesday Addams vibe to her.

Chase, our hero, is very open about his reluctance to commit to any and all emotional entanglement, be it to the orphans in his care or to Alexandra. I've already forgotten WHY he's allergic to affection and love, but it was probably some sort of man pain in his past. He has an honest to God literal man cave, that he does up himself. In a contemporary romance, he would be the handsome guy next door, with a big tool belt, charming all the ladies. He clearly doesn't want to become a duke, but sadly the series is called Girl Meets Duke (which means that the next two heroines are going to have to end up with dukes too - just how many eligible ones does Dare have running around her Regency world?) and so he couldn't really just be a baron or some such.

Alexandra is Catholic, and mixed race and clearly much too good for Chase. She's not been able to forget him since she ran into him in a bookstore six months earlier, but nevertheless tries her best to resist his charms for as long as possible. She's great with the girls, who eventually begin to thaw to her and trust her a bit.

The first book in the series had so many crazy elements that it must have burned itself into my mind, in this, I think Dare was trying to tone it down a bit more, but the result is that I can't even remember exactly what the big complication was that was keeping our lovers apart or how they eventually resolved things. Last year's book was in my top 10 of the year. This one, not so much.

Judging a book by its cover: While I like the soft yellows and the lighting in this cover, I just CANNOT with the rest of it. The male cover model has a buzz cut! A Regency novel should not have a cover that looks like a slightly dodgy (what with the dude's state of undress) wedding photo. Please stop this immediately, Avon.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

1 comment:

  1. I read this a while ago and my first thought seeing the review was "Is this the toolbelt one?" and then "Oh it has the funny funeral thing, I liked that!". It was a swing and a miss for me.

    "Some sort of man pain in his past" sums up so much of the genre.