Monday, September 20, 2010

The Earl and the Governess by Sarah Elliot

The Earl and the Governess (Harlequin Historical Series)The Earl and the Governess by Sarah Elliott

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I just love when I read a book by a new author, and their writing clicks with me. That is how I felt about The Earl and the Governess. I have had this book on my shelf for a few months, since I get all the Harlequin Historicals. I loved the cover, so I knew I'd probably read it sooner. But, the storyline didn't really call out to me that much. I'm not a fan of the titled hero chasing a woman who is in dire straits, and manipulating that situation for his own prurient gains (unless an author can do it well). I needed an 'E' for my monthly challenge, and it shouted "Read Me!" So, I selected it, and I am glad I did.

As I read this story, I said to myself, this is good writing. Not reinventing the wheel, but telling a story of two people who meet and fall in love, and doing it very well. I found myself liking both characters very much. It's not always a given that I like the titled, handsome, monied hero. I find that it's a coin flip for me. I don't like people who have a huge sense of entitlement. I don't like heroes who think they can have any woman they want, and who will resort to underhanded methods to get her, unless the author can show me a man with those undesirable traits, and reveal to me that he has some good traits to balance it out.

I must say that William and I got off on the right foot from the beginning. He sees a woman in distress, not particularly well-dressed, passably pretty, but not a stunner, and he goes to help her. He's not just trying to get her into bed. He's genuinely concerned about her. That really softened me towards William. He's rich and important enough to ignore people that are beneath him, but he doesn't.

Surprisingly, even though William was working the angle of having Isabelle under his thumb as the governess to his ward, and he eventually wants to persuade her to be his mistress, he shows some qualms about it. Although they share a couple of passionate kisses, he doesn't automatically resort to hanky-panky with his ward in the same house. That would have felt very wrong to me. When her reputation gets ruined, he offers marriage, when he could have just paid her off. He shows respect, and a love for this woman, a love that is equal to his desire. That made me love him.

I really liked Isabelle too. She had a good head on her shoulders, but she also had a heart and emotions. The war between those aspects of her personality was well-written. She felt a connection to William from the beginning, but she was no fool. She was in dire straits, and she knew that her reputation was important. She knew that nothing lasting could come of her association with William. Her love and attraction to him slowly but surely wore away at her doubts, and it was an organic process.

I'm pretty iffy about the wallpaper-type historicals. I like to read historical romances that are written with the morals and the atmosphere that represent the times and makeup of people who lived back then. I get pretty frustrated when I read one that has modern people who are merely dressed up like historical people, and carry their modern ideas and mores into the story. This is not one of those, fortunately. Although Ms. Elliott doesn't hit the reader over the head with the Regency setting, it's very natural and obvious in this story. I found myself reading this book very fast, and enjoying it a lot. Seeing William and Isabelle's courtship play out was a lovely thing. When they consummate their relationship, it felt natural, although I wondered how things would work out for them long-term. But I knew their love was real, and that was important for me.

I would have given this book five stars, but the ending seemed a little drawn out to me, leaving me with an uncertain feelings as for how things would resolve. But eventually things get to where I wanted them to, and I was happy with the resolution in the end. Otherwise, I had no issues with this story. The Earl and the Governess was a very good book, and I'd recommend it to fans of Regency romance.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

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