Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Winner Takes All: (1) The Game and the Governess
Lord Edward Granville, Earl of Ashby, has never been short of luck. From his time on the battlefield to his way with the ladies and at the card table, he’s more than earned his nickname of ‘Lucky Ned’. When Ned is challenged to a wager with his best friend and secretary, John Turner, he can’t say no. John doesn’t think that Ned can win over a lady without the benefit of his title, and so the pair agree to switch identities during a trip to visit one of Ned’s properties.
Governess Phoebe Baker wants nothing more than to keep her employers happy whilst making sure that her students are getting a good education. There’s no one she’d rather avoid than the Earl of Ashby. Phoebe has a past with the Earl that she would rather keep private and so when she discovers that he’ll be staying for a week with his secretary, it’s her worst nightmare. Thankfully, she doesn’t see much of the Earl, but his secretary is persistent in crossing her path … and making her pulse flutter …
At over 400 pages, this is a dense romance novel without actually possessing much action. Ned and John’s wager is amusing and has the potential to either further strengthen or break their relationship. Their friendship is one that was forged on the battlefield but has only deteriorated over time as John has begun to resent the way that his role and Ned’s treatment of him has affected their once easy-going relationship. Aside from their ruse and their respective attempts to thwart the other’s stake, nothing much happens. Obviously it’s inevitable that Phoebe will eventually find out that they’ve swapped places and react badly, but I was expecting something in addition to the obvious. A real anti-climax.
Rose and Henry – Phoebe’s charges – are really cute kids. I wish we had seen more of them. I know the book wasn’t about them (they were just ancillary characters, really) but seeing more of them wouldn’t have done anyone any harm. Phoebe is wonderful with them and I thought her interaction with them was the most interesting part of her character. There was an interesting scene when we found out that she’s a talented artist, but then there’s no follow-up which is again, highly disappointing.
So it sounds like all I’ve done so far is complain. There isn’t anything major that I didn’t like about this; rather, it’s the culmination of lots of little things. I wasn’t crazy about the number of characters at the house party, which made it super difficult to keep up with who was who. The book dragged on for ages without anything of interest taking place and it was like it was never going to end. I wasn’t convinced by the class-differences element of Ned and Phoebe’s relationship; the couple who feature in book two in this series are thus even less convincing. Sorry, Kate Noble, you just didn’t do it for me.
Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.