I gave Wilma Counts debut book, Willed to Wed five hearts and it
now resides on my keeper shelf. Her second book will join it there.
When a story has me so engrossed that I read it during the Super Bowl,
it must be good. Of course, if the Steelers had been playing, not even
one of the best Regencies Iíve read in quite a while could have kept my
My Lady Governess breaks no new ground when it comes to its
plot. But it is so well written, the characters are so well drawn, and
the setting is so nicely done, that it suggests that Counts may well
become one of our best Regency authors.
Lady Elinor Richards is facing a terrible fate. Her nasty uncle and
guardian, Lord Brompton, is conspiring with the grossly unpleasant Lord
Pennington to force her into marriage. Her young brother, the new Earl
of Ostwick, overhears their plot, but can do nothing to aid his sister.
And Elinor will not gain control of her fortune until she is
twenty-five, a year hence. Elinor must save herself.
Fleeing to her old governess, Elinor hatches a scheme. She will use the
references of the now retired Miss Harriet E. Palmer and seek a position
as a governess. The stellar references, plus her own accomplishments,
lead to her being hired as governess by the Marquis of Trenville. She
will be in charge of his six-year old twins, Susan and Geoffrey, and
their ten-year old cousin Anne. Thus Elinor finds herself on her way to
Whitsun Abbey in Devon and to a new and very different life.
Miss Palmer proves to be a success as a governess; she has just the
right combination of firmness and kindness for the job. In the informal
setting of Devon, she also mixes regularly with the family and gets to
know and admire her employer.
Adrian had not expected to become his fatherís heir. As the second son
of a duke, he had sought honorable service in the navy. His brotherís
death had forced him to return to civilian life. Now, he has become an
important personage in the Foreign Office. A brief marriage to a
lovely, if shallow, debutante had left him with no desire to wed again.
Certainly his childrenís governess is no proper candidate to become the
Marchioness of Trenville and later the Duchess of Wallenford. Then why
is he so attracted to her? Why does he so enjoy their conversations?
Why has she become so important to him?
When it is discovered that someone in the Trenville household is
betraying state secrets to the French envoys in Vienna, suspicion falls
on Miss Palmer. Her arrival had coincided with the stealing of the
secrets and it becomes obvious that she is not what she seems. Is this
woman who has come to mean so much to him a traitor whom Adrian must
What I most enjoyed about My Lady Governess was watching the hero
and heroine fall in love. This was no sudden coup de foudre, but
rather a slow discovery of common interests, common intelligence, common
ideas. First Elinor and Adrian become friends. Then, their friendship
becomes mutual admiration. Finally, admiration and friendship become
love. This seems to happen so rarely in romance novels today, except
perhaps in marriage of convenience/forced marriage stories. Counts does
a marvelous job of showing us how and why Elinor and Adrian fall in love
with each other.
Counts also provides a telling description of the ambivalent position of
the governess in Regency society. Adrian recognizes that Elinor is far
superior to most of the young women who have pursued him, but he also
knows how unsuitable she is to become his wife. And Elinor suffers the
snubs and unwelcome attentions that were too frequently the lot of women
who had to earn their living.
There is an element of the ďbig misunderstandingĒ in the story. I did
ask myself why Elinor didnít just confess her identity and ask for
Adrianís protection from her avaricious and evil uncle. But Counts did
manage to provide a believable reason for her reticence, so this didnít
bother me enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story.
When I really like an authorís first book, I always wonder whether the
second will live up to the first. Counts didnít disappoint. I can
hardly wait until next November and book number three.