SEDUCING THE GOVERNESS – Margo Maguire
England, the Lake District, Spring 1816
The dying old Duke of Windermere has a lot to make up for according to his late wife who haunts his dreams. He once had a son who died and a daughter. It's his own fault he's alone in the world except for the weasel get of a distant cousin who can't wait to step into the dukedom and its great wealth. The duke disowned his daughter when she married for love, a decent chap and a barrister, but not of the aristocracy. Sarah and her husband perished while crossing the Thames in a storm, leaving two young daughters. The bitter man gave orders to his steward to find families to take the girls to raise; he wanted nothing to do with them. That was twenty years ago, and now he needs to make amends before he meets his Isabella in the afterlife. The duke has plenty of unentailed fortune to shower upon them. He hires Captain Gavin Briggs to find and bring his granddaughters to him. If anyone can find the girls, this former intelligence offer has the best chance…
Now that her parents—who, she just learned, weren't really her parents—are dead, Mercy Franklin is on her way to Ashby Hall and a position as governess to the earl's niece. The last leg of her journey is down a wet, muddy road. She barely gets out of the way of a group of horsemen coming rapidly from behind. Luckily they miss running her down, but she gets splashed by the mud they kick up... what an entrance she'll make . As she steps back on the road, she startles another oncoming horse into throwing its rider, a rather large, thoroughly masculine man and a curiously attractive one in spite of the scarred cheek and the cloudy eye. The man seems to have injured his ankle, and Mercy tries to help him. From somewhere deep inside, this normally retiring maiden gathers the spirit to give the cheeky fellow some sass.
As a third son, Nash Farris, Lord Ashby never expected nor wanted to become the earl. It's with a heavy heart that this wounded veteran of Waterloo , where he lost his best friend on top of having recently lost both brothers, must somehow bring the estate back to prosperity. And see to the welfare of eight-year-old Lady Emmaline. How interesting that her new governess is the sprightly lass he met on the road…the one who arouses feelings he hasn't experienced in a year, and who doesn't seem to notice his scars.
Both Mercy and Nash are likable, well drawn characters. Nash is reluctant to chance his heart after losing so many dear to him, and he has no clue how to deal with a young girl. At the time he hires Mercy, his household staff is all male, mostly veteran soldiers from his outfit. Now that Mercy is no longer under the influence of her adoptive parents, her real personality is emerging, but not without some pangs. The interaction between them is highly entertaining—though it sometimes gets bogged down in their frequent lusty ruminations.
There are several intriguing plotlines in SEDUCING THE GOVERNESS; the sensuous budding romance is primary, but also moving is the plight of little orphaned Emmaline. Then there are questions of how the earldom's fortune became so depleted, and are the Earls of Ashby really cursed as many believe? And how did Mercy end up as the “daughter” of the stern Reverend Franklin and his cold wife?
As a hot romance within a riveting story, SEDUCING THE GOVERNESS is a sure bet. It's available in paperback and electronic form.