Avon Impulse, $3.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229225-4
Historical Romance, 2013
Bonnie is a part of Ellie Macdonald’s series The Governess Club, but it can stand alone very well. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, while the author still shows that she can deliver some very competent writing, the story is not very interesting to read.
Bonnie Hodges is a governess. Her mother was a governess who became her employer’s mistress, and that didn’t turn out so hot. Bonnie, therefore, has some issues about fraternizing with the boss, so this means she takes… oh, 10 pages longer than usual before putting out to the boss. Maybe I can’t be too hard on Ms Macdonald: this is a pretty short story, and therefore, the sex scene has to be in there… somewhere.
When this story opens, Bonnie’s employer and his wife had died in a terrible carriage accident. It was very sad, and the two sons were traumatized. Bonnie couldn’t desert her charges so she decides to stay, even if she isn’t paid, until these kids’ guardian shows up.
Sir Stephen Montgomery shows up to catch up with his friend, only to learn that the friend is dead and he is now guardian to the dead man’s kids. Naturally, he wants to look into the deaths, but he also has to look into the affairs of the estate. Bonnie is a distraction that he doesn’t want, or so he thinks.
The romance in this story is very muted. The main characters spend a lot of time being concerned about the kids, especially when “accidents” start happening around them. This is understandable, but this also means that the romance isn’t very happening. I’m told that Bonnie and Stephen are attracted to one another, but these two don’t even seem to like each other when they are together. They seem more like, well, an employer and his employee. The chemistry is non-existent.
This won’t be so bad if the mystery is interesting, but it isn’t. The cast is small, so it’s very easy to guess who the villain is. For someone bent on investigating the deaths of his best friend and the friend’s wife, Stephen seems pretty clueless. Let me put it this way: he doesn’t even check to see who would inherit everything when the eldest boy dies, and I’d think that’s the first thing even a novice investigator would think of checking.
The story also suffers from some glaring inconsistencies. For example, the kids are too traumatized to sit in a carriage, I’m told, but then they’d ask for a carriage later in the story. These kids stick to Bonnie when it’s convenient, but when she and Stephen want to play, they abruptly have no problems sleeping in their own rooms. My favorite inconsistency is how Bonnie would write an anguished letter to her friend, lamenting that she’s being tempted like her mother to put out to the boss, so oh, life is so complicated but she will never give in… only to do just that a few pages later.
As neither an interesting romance nor mystery, Bonnie is just a competently written bore of a read.