Title: The Governess Game
Author: Tessa Dare
Publication date: 23rd August 2018
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Review copy from the publisher via NetGalley
Description: The accidental governess…
After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.
The infamous rake...
Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.
My thoughts: I'll start by saying that this is the best historical romance I've read in a long while. The writing is very smooth, the plot flows along at a good pace, and the characters are very likeable and fun to read about, with the secondary characters seeming just as well developed as the main pair. Beyond that, it does a few particular things which I enjoyed reading about.
Alexandra, or Alex as she's known to her friends, works for a living and is lucky enough to know a trade: she maintains clocks for wealthy customers in London. She's very practical, but that hasn't stopped her from daydreaming about the man who literally bumped into her in a bookshop several months ago. When they meet again, he thinks she's there to fill the vacancy of Governess to his two wards. The encounter leaves her flustered, and she ends up losing the mechanical piece she needs for her clock-setting business. Instead of accepting help from her close friends, she returns to Chase and takes up his offer of the governess position.
Right from the start, there is a lot of sexiness between them. She's very attracted to him, and he to her, and all of their interactions sizzle. In the last few years, I've become much more aware of the significance it can have on a 'relationship' when one person has power over another. Although Chase is employing Alex, none of their kisses (or beyond, and there is *plenty* of beyond-kissing) felt like Alex was in an uncomfortable position. She can leave this job if she wants to; her reputation isn't watched as closely as it would be if she was on his social level.
That ties in nicely to one of my other favourite things in The Governess Game: consent. There is a lot of emphasis on her consenting to things. Chase even says "I need to hear you say it" at one point, when Alex has just nodded. I love that Tessa Dare included things like that, and made it sexy in itself.
The final aspect I want to mention is Alex's friendship group. I gather that there may have been a previous book with one of these women as the main character, who is married in this book, and I'll be looking out for that to read it as well. The women are from slightly different societal backgrounds, but they haven't let that get in the way of their friendship. There is a hugely deep loyalty between them all, and they're very protective of each other. They are slightly unconventional for their time, without it ever coming across as there being a 'you're not like other girls' aspect to it in Chase's relationship with Alex.
The Governess Game was a really lovely, sexy book, and a perfect example of Regency romance. Beyond the romance, the importance of family, and building a found-family, is such a key theme and brought me to tears several times as it looked at the bonds being built between the wards and Alex and Chase. I highly recommend this to all fans of the genre, and will be looking for more Tessa Dare books to read soon. I'm giving it 9 out of 10.