The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Avon on August 28, 2018
He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson
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: 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.
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 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.
This is a delightful take on the governess-nobleman trope found in rmance land, with an astronomer as the governess (Alex/Alexandra) and a duke’s heir as the nobleman (Chase). I really enjoyed Alex and Chase’s banter, and also their voices—despite some very angsty moments, they don’t take everything seriously.; they’re both logically romantic, Alex more so than Chase. There are also two children who somehow don’t turn into plot moppets. The only thing that I wasn’t entirely happy with was how quickly the conflict between Alex and Chase felt resolved.
At the beginning of the book, Alex shows up at Chase’s house to set his clocks. But he sweeps that aside and tries to convince her to be the governess to his two wards. At first Alex says no, but a series of unfortunate events cause her to come back and say yes. Alex has also had a crush on Chase for months after literally running into him at a bookstore, but he pretends not to remember her so she desperately tries to set aside those feelings and do her job. Dare does a good job of showing that Alex wants to initiate things between herself and Chase and that Chase is aware of the power differential between them. We have a funny scene involving Alex weighing the pros and cons of having sex with Chase. I’d also like to highlight that Alex is mixed race, and this has a little effect on her position in society.
Both Chase and Alex have commitment issues to a certain extent, but Chase’s are more obvious. He’s promised himself he’s not going to marry, he believes he can’t care for people, and he’s very conflicted about his family. But he also made sure his wards have the most awesome nursery they could possibly have and put together a lot of the furniture himself. He willingly (though with a lot of internal commentary) goes along with their games and tries to do what he thinks is best for them. Which is why he needed a governess to begin with. When it comes to his relationship with Alex, he recognizes that she’s very smart, even if he doesn’t grasp all the astronomy and math involved. And when he can, he helps Alex in her efforts. He also respects her friendships and treats them accordingly. Also, the reason he pretends to not recognize her is because he didn’t want to embarrass her (it was a rather embarrassing meet-cute).
My only quibble with this book is that I felt the conflict was resolved too quickly. This is possibly a me-problem, because I enjoy some good groveling. Other than the fast resolution, I really enjoyed this book. I laughed aloud multiple times, and it’s probably good I didn’t read this book in public because I probably would have gotten funny looks. I highly recommend the audio version of this book.
For all those reasons, I give this book a B+. Go, get this book and enjoy yourself.
You can read an excerpt here and buy a copy here. (Incidentally both the kindle and mmpb versions are currently on sale at $4.99 and $5.98 respectively.)
This is the book I was looking for.
There was a similar plot in another book, and I was getting them confused–they came out within a few months of each other.