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Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

‘The accidental governess.

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. The ladies of London have tried and failed to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart… without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to 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.’

I have a confession to make: I’ve never read a romance novel. Not until The Governess Game. It was the synopsis of the book that lured me in and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to read it, because it was not at all what I had always assumed romance novels were – in excellent ways.

What I enjoyed most about the story was the use of humour. I rarely laugh out loud at any book, but the children (Daisy and Rosamund) and their quirky eccentricities – that are, in many respects, coping mechanisms for what they’ve been through – were a delight to read about and proper, well-developed characters in their own right who made me laugh on more than one occasion. Every day, Daisy decides that her doll has died from one terrible affliction or another and makes her guardian, Chase, attend a funeral for her and deliver a eulogy before she resurrects her and kills her off in another gruesome fashion. In her role as governess, Alex is made to also attend these funerals, during which Chase attempts to make her laugh by means of deadpan humour and bad puns, among other things. Daisy takes the whole thing endearingly seriously (though not in an overly morbid way), while Rosamund appears to be content with humouring her for her own devices, the mock-funerals something that bring everyone together while also creating distance between the girls and those who care for them.

The women in The Governess Game are all intelligent and brave, not damsels at the mercy of male characters, but determined to be in charge of their own destinies. This is achieved without taking away their femininity or portraying the more ‘traditional’ skills expected of a woman as something not worth the time of any clever girl. Alex is quick to dismiss Rosamund’s scorn of embroidery by insisting it has more practical applications than being solely decorative, while one of her friends enjoys baking without being portrayed as belonging in the kitchen because she is female. I would happily read a novel about the adventures of Alex’s friends!

The romance is very much not the governess at the mercy of her employer (thankfully) and Alex is actually in control of much of her interaction with Chase, who, for the most part, tries to stick to a decent, moral, code as regards how he handles his growing attraction to her. There are moments when he has lapses, yet he never quite oversteps to the extent that he completely gives in and chooses to do as he pleases, and what control he may lack in those instances is seen in Alex, who makes it quite clear what she does and does not want. Though there is a lot about Chase’s interaction with other women that makes him less than likeable on occasion, it’s swiftly evident that he does have a heart, even if he’d rather it didn’t have him form bonds with others when he isn’t looking. Ultimately, he is redeemable and it’s easy to care for him and to want him to realise he deserves good things.

A charming read. Thank you, Harper Collins!

Publisher: Harper Collins (Mills & Boon)

Pub date: 6th September 2018