Review – Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess by Christine Merrill

Cover for Dangerous Lord, Innocent GovernessPublisher: Harlequin Historical
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: Net Galley

“Daphne Collingham is masquerading as a governess in Lord Timothy Colton’s home— determined to discover if he is responsible for her beloved cousin’s death. She’s prepared to uncover secrets and scandal, but the biggest revelation is the way she feels under the lord’s dark gaze….
Lord Colton is suspicious of the alluring new governess—and with the furor surrounding him he must control his passion. But a man has his limits, and the delectable Miss Collingham is pure temptation….”
This backcover blurb came from

When I was asked if I was willing to review Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess, I was looking forward to reading a historical romance that didn’t involve the standard evening balls, At Home calls etc.  This book happens to be the sequel to Miss Winthorpe’s Elopement and for our European Readers, both books were published a few years ago by Mills and Boon so if the title and subject seem familiar that is why.  You can find out more about this duology at the author’s website here.  Unfortunately for my OCD tendencies, I prefer to read books in order,  and I was unaware that this was the second book until I started encountering references to previous events.  Ms Merrill did a good job at sprinkling in reminders of some of the significant events which set up the opening stages of this book.  As a result I was never really lost although I am curious to find out how accurate I was in my guesses about the details.

I found the back cover blurb to be surprisingly accurate which certainly added to my reading enjoyment.  Daphne Collingham has been sent away from London to rusticate for a while due to certain ill-advised actions on her part.  Instead of going to her relations she decides to take the place of the governess hired for her cousin’s children.  Daphne is certain that her cousin’s brutish husband, Lord Colton, played a leading role in her death.  Daphne thinks that as the governess she will be able to uncover what really happened and bring justice for her cousin.  What she did not count on is that governess’ are actually supposed to teach, that her cousin might not have been as sweetly loving as she portrayed, that Lord Colton might think himself a monster, and that the children would be children not little puppets.

Speaking of children, Ms Merrill did a really good job using them as complete characters and not just literary foils.  I could feel their love for each other, their unhappiness with how their lives had changed, their willingness to do everything they could as children to protect and support each other and their father. Lord Colton is a wonderfully tortured imperfect hero.  He is trying to do the right thing for his children while thinking himself as a monster.  He also knows what a noble man should and shouldn’t do regarding the hired help.

I enjoyed the majority of the characters interactions with each other but a few things jarred my enjoyment.  In my opinion, a society that is very stratified with established behaviors based on your role/position in life would rather quickly pick up on anomalies.  Obviously Daphne, a noble woman, not an upper servant wouldn’t know exactly how to behave or what to do.  While some of her glitches were noted and remarked on by others no one really made an effort to “out” her as a fake.  After I finished reading I could come up with two semi-logical reasons for their oversight.  The first was that people expected to see certain things so anything that didn’t fit was immediately discarded or not really seen.  The second is that the supporting characters guessed that Daphne wasn’t who she claimed to be but they were hoping she would make a positive difference to the Colton household.  Some of that might be answered when I go back and read the first book but for now that still seems an anomaly.

There were two other things that bothered me; the first was that her family didn’t send anyone to supervise Daphne’s trip to rustication.  If someone has exhibited questionable judgment before common sense dictates that they have close supervision.  The other was Daphne’s father’s arrival.  I actually predicted the timing of that arrival but what bothered me was “how” he discovered where Daphne was.

All in all I enjoyed reading this although I wish I had read the previous book first.  I give Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess a B.

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