A romance between an earl and governess? Takes me back to my Victoria Holt days. The pretty cover and the 118 reviews that still had it at 4.5 stars sold me.
And I was so horribly disappointed.
There were two good good points in the book.
First, it showed women having friendships with other women without rivalry. Granted, they also had the heroine competing for the earl, but at least there were other female friendships. Good friendships.
Second, the heroine was likable. She was naive at times, and wishy-washy at others. I sometimes struggled with the way she didn’t much try to take control of her future or was resigned to certain things. But all in, she was likable even if she was more like dandelion fluff rather than an active participant.
But that’s where the good ended.
I wasn’t just “meh” on the hero, I disliked him. He was a puritanical, possessive, controlling jerk. I did NOT want to see him with the heroine.
And the reasons for the change in his personality from the kind-hearted child to this are never explained. Nor am I sold on him changing back to a good person. Why does he suddenly forbid his sister sweets? No idea. Why does he demand an “iron-fisted control” over everything? Because of his parents’ murder, I guess? Never really explained.
The romance is not believable. There is some lust, I guess? But the progression even from love-at-first-sight to true love never happens. And I cringe whenever the author tells it from his side as it becomes very icky and possessive.
The villains are so flat and one-dimensional as to be laughable. I was so not sold on them or their motivations. And the “big reveal” as to who killed his parents? I couldn’t have cared less. I already knew, and it didn’t matter.
The steamy scenes aren’t. No salvation there.
The ending is dragged out. I was quite surprised there was so much of the book left to go after the murder is revealed. It was totally unneeded. It did nothing to deepen the love between the hero and heroine, truly change the hero so he was okay with marrying beneath his station, or explain what the heroine saw in him. It was filler to hit a page count.
Certain characters don’t act in accordance with their personalities when the author needs them to do otherwise. For example, the lady who at one point shelters the heroine is the same that assigned her to the horrible earl, knowing full well how horrible it was there. After telling us how wonderful she is, and sheltering the heroine, I cannot imagine her knowingly sending the heroine alone into the earl’s terrifying home. And for such a nosy heroine, I can’t believe she didn’t know the stories surrounding the earl that lived in the same town she lived in for years.
All in, there are way better stories out there. Reread something by Tessa Dare or Lisa Kleypas. Even a reread will give you more than a first read of this.