Enticed by a Governess by Jane Charles
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Love of a Governess, #4
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Charlotte Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy merchant was not quite sixteen when her father arranged her marriage to Victor Hawthorn, the son, and heir of Viscount Blackmar. Her father bought up the Viscount’s debts and threatened to ruin the family if Victor did not marry his daughter. Charlotte is mortified by her father’s actions and later humiliated when she overhears Victor’s parents talking about her. She is sure she will be trapped in an unhappy marriage and an embarrassment to Victor, who is the most handsome man she has ever seen. But to her surprise, Victor seeks her out in the garden and they talk and make plans – plans that will thwart her father and his parents. Victor proposes that they have a marriage in name only for a few years, and suggests that Charlotte move to an estate he owns in Willanton and let her have a bit of freedom (and time to grow up) before they make any decisions about their marriage. Charlotte agrees and despite the manor house being in disrepair, she is thrilled to have a place of her own. She and Victor begin to set the house to rights and a friendship blossoms but it is soon clear to Charlotte that Victor is restless and after of month, she tells him he is free to return to London. He hesitates, but she insists, he hires a companion for her and leaves, promising to write and visit soon.
Four years later, Victor and Charlotte have kept in contact via letters, but he has not seen his wife since the day he left. He had planned to, but when his father died unexpectedly, things always kept him from traveling to Willanton. But when he learns from a friend who met Charlotte at a ball held by her neighbor, the Earl of Melcombe, some of the things his wife has been up to, he is more than a little surprised. His friend Percy can’t believe that Victor lets his wife live alone, and Victor realizes that he doesn’t know his wife as well as he thought, something that is going to change now. He travels to Willanton and is floored when he sees her – gone is the awkward young girl, his wife is all grown up and is stunning! She is also keeping a lot of secrets and before they can have a real marriage, they will have to learn to trust one another, and maybe love will follow. But even love might not be enough to ensure this couple’s HEA.
What a great story! I have been waiting for this story since learning that Charlotte was married in the previous book, and this book did not disappoint! I adored Charlotte and Victor, they are likable, and don’t blame each other for the sins of their parents. This book has a lot going on, there are secrets, shocking revelations, great (and some not-so-great) secondary characters, murder, loss, warm love scenes, surprising twists, a bit of heartache, and finally a HEA that includes an epilogue. The story does contain some triggers that might be upsetting to some readers, including verbal abuse and the loss of a child, but the author handled both with compassion and minimal on-page details. This is the fourth book in the series, but like the previous books, it can be read as a standalone title, but I would suggest reading the series in order for the best reader experience. I loved this story and highly recommend it for historical romance lovers or anyone who loves an ugly duckling story with a HEA.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*