Series: Unlikely Duchesses #3
Publication Date: 7/27/21
Period: Regency, London
Number of Pages: 318
This book hits the ground running on the very first page and doesn’t stop until it crosses the finish line with a most satisfying HEA. Sandwiched in-between is a petulant 4-year-old, revengeful grandparents, a thief, a betrayer, and a murderer. OH! My!
Tessa James, orphan, hatmaker, and newly hired governess, has had a very hard life. She’s survived being base-born, losing her mother at six years old, living in a workhouse, and working ungodly long hours in a milliner’s shop. Now, she is absolutely determined to identify the aristocrat who sired her and then turned her mother out to fend for herself. When she does find him, she doesn’t want to berate him or punish him, she merely wants to ask him for a loan of enough money to start her own millinery shop. After all, he owes her at least that much in life. Her only clue to his identity is a necklace her mother gave her – a necklace with a coat of arms engraved on it. Tessa isn’t a dishonest person, but she knows she cannot find the person who has that crest while she’s working at the milliner’s shop because she only has one half day a week to search. Her solution is to talk the desperate Duke of Carlin into hiring her as a governess – and to manage that without a letter of reference or any experience. Can she con him into a position in his home? She’s sure she can deal with the wild-child Sophy because she’s spent her life caring for children in the workhouse. However, convincing the duke might be a challenge. You think???
Guy Whitby, the seventh Duke of Carlin, never wanted nor expected to be a duke. However, with a number of very unexpected deaths in the Whitby male line, here he is. He can manage the many estates and financial matters of the duchy, but there is one very small, very angry, very unhappy little girl that he isn’t sure he or anyone else can manage. That little termagant seems to run off a governess every other day. He loves his daughter and feels guilty over having left her to the devices of his former in-laws. However, he honestly felt Sophy would be better off if she was cared for by Annnabell’s parents. Annabell’s death in childbirth triggered Guy to outfit a ship and take off around the world cataloging the flora of the coastal regions – and he left the infant Sophy in the care of his in-laws for four years – until he inherited the title and had to return home. He’s a stranger to Sophy and she’s very much afraid of him. She’s also willful, stubborn, and is a master at pitching temper tantrums. Goodness does he ever need a solid, reliable governess for Sophy.
Guy and Tessa are wonderful characters and it was a real treat to watch them overcome their social differences and come to trust each other. That trust is sorely tested when Guy’s diaries of his travels are stolen and he thinks Tessa could surely be the thief. But, when Tessa’s life is at stake, the important things become very, very clear.
I can definitely recommend this read and I hope you will love these very likable and relatable characters as much as I did. The writing is excellent, the pacing is perfect, and the mystery might keep you guessing. I guessed the villain almost as soon as he graced the page, but I didn’t know why – so that was definitely enough to keep me intrigued. Happy reading!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.