The Inconvenient Duchess

Taken by the Wicked Rake

An Unladylike Offer

Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess
by Christine Merrill
(Harlequin Historical, $5.99, PG-13) 978-0-373-29648-4
Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess is a charming story of a man in turmoil and a woman out to destroy him. Little do they both know that they will have a life changing effect on each other as their relationship grows. The result is an entertaining story, but is not an overly inspiring story.

Daphne Collingham has just entered Lord Colton’s house waiting to be interviewed for the governess position. She is extremely nervous since she has embarked on an adventure of lies and deceit in order to solve a mystery. Daphne’s cousin Clare is dead. Daphne believes that Clare’s husband, Timothy Colton, is a murderer and she is out to prove it. Daphne is posing as Miss Collins so she can become Colton’s children’s governess and get close enough to Colton to prove his guilt and bring justice for her cousin.

Lord Timothy Colton is in a precarious position. His relationship with his wife was awful. He is a scientist and though he carries a title, it means little to him in his life goals. Clare was the complete opposite. She lived for the social scene and felt her husband was the most boring man alive. She made no secret of her unhappiness or infidelity. In the last days, Tim and Clare were fighting more and more. One morning Tim woke from a drunken stupor and found his wife dead at the bottom of the stairs. Everyone is calling it an accident, but he knows the truth. He murdered his wife.

Daphne is having a hard time posing as a servant and is doing her best to act appropriately. She has little experience with children, but she seems to fit right in with the Colton children. The older children are kind enough to ignore the apparent lack of knowledge that Daphne possess and the younger child has latched on to Daphne as they both have an interest in drawing.

Tim is immediately suspicious of Daphne’s background, but he is attracted to her so intensely that he can’t stop thinking about her. Daphne tries to hide her feelings since her mission is to destroy this man, but the more she gets to know Tim the more she realizes that Clare’s stories about her husband may not be all that they seemed.

Authors are given the task of balancing character development, character relationship building, and the infusion of an interesting plot to produce a stimulating story. For romance novels, I prefer a story with the character development and relationship building as the main focus and the plot to be relevant but not overpowering. Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess met that preference. The plot of Daphne’s impersonation and crime solving helps guide the plot along, but the characters and their relationship are definitely the primary focus.

What the story lacks is smooth transition as the characters evolve which leads to believability to be questioned. Daphne and Tim both have their hang-ups that are preventing them from fully giving in to each other, but when they do it seems sudden and confusing as to what caused the change. There are several instances of this in the story. Also the title describes Daphne as the innocent governess, but there is nothing innocent about her.

Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess overall is a good book. If you read a lot and enjoy character driven stories, then this one may be for you. It’s a short and quick read with a satisfying ending.

--Nichole Howell

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