Publication date: September 3, 2013
Series: The Governess Club
Ellie Macdonald's debut hits a high note with introducing a group of friends who created a club to better their lives as governesses; this book focuses on Claire, a governess whose life is disrupted by the arrival of a new tutor for her charges, and makes her yearn for something more than just a dream to return to her childhood home.
The chief focus of this novella is characterization, especially of Jacob Knightley, the newly engaged tutor. Jacob is actually the Earl of Rimmel, and has a devil-may-care attitude through his nonchalance with Claire's reputation as he sought to charm her. This quickly changes as he gets to know the real Claire, a woman of high intelligence and integrity who teaches him the ways of a servant, and through her, he begins to understand noblesse oblige. Yet despite his charming demeanor, he exhibits both humility and honesty with Claire and builds a wonderful companionship with her first as friends, then as lovers. Jacob truly grows from a rakish young man who believed it a lark to masquerade as a tutor, to a man of sincerity and honor that grovels in order to obtain Claire's forgiveness. It is only Claire's character I have slight trouble with, as she spent a good amount of time unwilling to forgive Jacob after she found out his deceit, all the while knowing from her assessment of his character that he never intended to hurt her. A good deal of angst could have been avoided were she to have let go of her stubbornness and accept his sincere apologies, but this was prolonged to the point of annoyance and lessened my appreciation of her character.
Besides that, there is little not to like with this novella. The dialogue is very well crafted; Claire and Jacob's banter is lively and witty, yet at once heartfelt and touching. With its length, character backgrounds were explored and used in excellent comparison, and the ending provides an excellent connection with the next governess story. All in all, Ellie Macdonald is an author to watch for!
*ARC courtesy of the publisher via edelweiss
My rating: 4 tulips