|In Temptation of a Proper Governess, Cathy Maxwell writes a love story between a misunderstood man and an innocent, down-on-her-luck governess. Although it includes some good scenes, it’s not much different from other stories with a similar plot.
Michael Severson left England several years before when he was charged with murdering actress Aletta Calendri. Even though the charges were dismissed, many still believed him guilty, and he went to Canada to make a life and a fortune for himself. Now Michael is back in England and resolves to clear his name. To that end, he vows to discover who killed Aletta and set him up to take the fall.
Unfortunately, Michael becomes the victim of another plot when young Lillian Wardley enters his room during a party and plans to trap him into marriage. Governess Isabel Halloran foils Lillian’s plans by having her removed from Michael’s room before the damage is done. After locking a naked Lillian into her room, Isabel returns to retrieve Lillian’s bracelet, since it would add credibility to the Wardley family’s claim of compromise.
While Isabel searches for the bracelet, Michael enters the room. Within minutes, they are sharing a heated embrace. The Wardleys burst into the room, expecting to find Lillian. When they realize their plans have gone awry, Isabel is turned out without a reference.
This isn’t the first time Isabel has been forced to leave a position because of a man. In a previous household, she thought herself in love with a man who tried to force himself on her and then had her dismissed from his aunt’s employ. She is understandably less than thrilled when Michael asks her to be his mistress and says that she is interested only in marriage, an offer that doesn’t hold much appeal for him until he learns that she is the illegitimate daughter of the marquis of Elswick. Michael believes Elswick played a key role in the events surrounding Aletta’s murder and the subsequent accusations. After some discussion, Isabel agrees to marry him and they make plans to leave. Their journey is far from smooth: Michael is shot in the back as they leave.
Temptation of a Proper Governess focuses on two main issues: What will happen when Isabel discovers Michael’s true reasons for marrying her? And who is trying to kill him?
I enjoyed some aspects of the book. The scene where Isabel confronts Michael is emotional and well written. And Michael’s immediate realization that he was wrong is admirable, as are his sincere apologies to Isabel.
However, much of the story happens just as you would expect, starting with the downtrodden yet spirited heroine and the unjustly accused hero. There is a confrontation scene once Michael’s big secret is revealed and the expected trust issues that result. Michael and Isabel also investigate Aletta’s murder and that mystery is eventually solved. All of this is quite readable but not particularly memorable. Nor do the secondary characters add much to the story; they are either stereotypes or convenient ways to provide exposition.
While predictable, Temptation of a Proper Governess has several interesting moments. If you’re in the mood for this kind of story, you might find it to be a tempting read.