Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-24814-2
Historical Romance, 2015
Temptation of a Governess is a tale in which the romance is complicated by a hero’s behavior which is… well, let’s just say that Alex Arrandale, the Earl of Davenport, is not going to win any prizes for maturity anytime soon.
Okay, so his brother died and he became the Earl. Like every other romance hero of this sort, Alex grieves by throwing parties, having orgies, and drinking himself silly – truly, these are the signs of a grieving man rather than, say, a brat with too much money and too little impulse control. His brother and the man’s wife died when their ship did a Titanic of sorts, and the brats of those two are now given to the care of both Alex and his sister-in-law, Diana Gresham. Alex doesn’t bother to pay attention to those brats – he is too busy licking his drinking cups and penetrating mistresses he doesn’t respect or love out of grief – and he only shows up when he wants to evict Diana and his wards from the place they are staying. You see, he and his brother grew up at Chantreys, and now he intends to honor his brother’s memory by having orgies in that place. I don’t know, maybe every spew of his manly boo-boo juice is meant to be a poetic allegory of the tears of his grieving soul or something.
Diana is like, no way, she’s not leaving and neither are the stumpy plot device brats under her care. They are staying and it is time Alex mans up and shoulders some responsibility. Still, Alex is so hot and Diana ends up thinking that she’d love nothing more than to caress his atlas and study his Ptolemy. Will the love of a pure woman and the attention of stumpy brats turn Alex into a new leaf? Watch out, here comes his mistress, the villain of the story, because while Alex may be a self-absorbed prat, he has a penis, and we all love penises so Alex is awesome, but a selfish woman who wants to grab Alex for sex and money – therefore making her the heroine’s competition for the holy awesome – is just too revolting for words.
Sarah Mallory is a proficient author and this book is very pleasant to read. I also like that Diana, whose defining traits are “thinking of herself as a cripple” and “prim, proper, but secretly horny for the hero”, manages to come off as refreshingly human and even likable despite for the most part being a very familiar kind of heroine.
Unfortunately, the hero’s redemption is not believable as he’s being a complete ass all the way to close to the end, and he often comes off as mean-spirited and stupid rather than misunderstood or tormented to the point of delusion. The author makes things worse by pulling off the most tired kind of “redemption” – Alex realizes what a gem Diana is when he brings his mistress to the party in which Diana also happens to be there, and he’s surprised that people would make fun of Diana’s walk, and that his mistress is nasty, so oh, Diana, ooh Diana. I don’t see any believable transformation in him, just the author going through the motions to show Alex – and me – that Diana is the most noble, virtuous, and devoted wife-material ever, so I’m supposed to root for Alex to come to the same realization and marry her. But what is Diana getting out of this relationship? Considering that she’s already sleeping with him, it’s not like “sex with a hot guy” is a good reason to marry that man.
I also find it rather bewildering that I am somehow supposed to dislike the mistress when the hero is the one who has treated the heroine far worse in this story. Very lovely double standards at work in this story, I must say. A more appropriate ending would be to ship both Alex and his floozy to Hotel Cortez and let them get violated by the demon with the dildo drill.
Anyway, Temptation of a Governess has a romance that is not believable at all, and the happy ending comes about mostly because that’s the kind of ending that is to be expected in a romance novel. Sure, the writing is pretty, but the heroine could do much better than the boring, whiny overgrown brat she ends up with.