She will not give up…
Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in…
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
Courtney Milan is one of my favorite historical romance authors at the moment and she lives up to this honor with her new novella, The Governess Affair. This short story is considered a prequel to her upcoming series, Brothers Sinister.
I will admit that I am often hesitant about reading novellas because I feel like they are too short and often the romance isn't developed enough for me to truly believe there will be a happy ending. But, I have learned that this is never the case for a Courtney Milan short story. She is wonderful at organizing a story perfectly for the shortened length and I never feel like I'm missing something. Like many of Milan's writings, The Governess Affair goes beyond the typicals lord meets lady durign the Season love story. Neither of our protagonists is considered to be on the top of British society which is a refreshing change.
Serena Barton is an impoverished lady turned governess who is in a bit of a situation. She lost her position after being raped by a duke and then discovered that the encounter left her pregnant. Now, Serena is determined to make the duke pay for his actions and insure that her child will not be raised without money or security. On the other hand, we have Hugo Marshall, a former pugalist, who makes a living by solving his employer's problems. Unfortunately, his employer happens to be the same duke that raped Serena and Hugo has been assigned the task of making her go away.
I adored both of these characters and their relationship with each other. Serena has had a difficult time recently, but she uses her experiences to inspire her. She is determined not to remain a victim any longer and is willing to do whatever she has to in order to give her child the best life possible. Hugo, at first glance, appears to be an ordinary man, but his personality and actions make him a viable hero. He is attracted to Serena and her strength of will which is wonderful to read. Personally, Hugo has to go through some maturing especially when it comes to giving up his lifelong ambitions, but he does it in such a relatable way.
The sexual tension is apparent from the beginning with Serena and Hugo. It is also balanced out with romantic chemistry that goes beyond pure lust. These two people respect and admire each other's intelligence and personality. This aspect of their love story made me root for them and sigh with pleasure by the end.
Like any Milan story, The Governess Affair is well-written with a fascinating historical setting. The Victorian era is new for this author and I am excited to see how she puts her own little twist on it. This novella is the perfect length which, as I mentioned, is difficult for even the most experience romance writers. I will also say the epilogue is a wonderful set-up for the Brothers Sinister series and I look forward these new stories.
0.5. The Governess Affair
1. The Duchess War (To Be Released 2012)
2. The Heiress Effect (To Be Released 2012)
3. The Countess Conspiracy (To Be Released 2013)