by Christina Dodd

October 2000
ISBN: 0-380-81198-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

When Christina Dodd wrote this book did she know she was starting a series of stories that would entrance romance fans everywhere? The premise of the “Distinguished Academy of Governesses” run by impoverished gentlewomen to help those in similar straits is quite brilliant. And this first novel kicks the series off with a wonderful bang!!

The Earl of Kerrich, Devon Mathewes, is doing his best to retain the Queen’s favor. But as a renowned lover, rake and womanizer, he’s in for a bit of a struggle against Queen Victoria’s well known predilection for propriety. What to do? Why adopt an orphan, of course. Such a display of caring and fatherly affection must redeem him in Her Majesty’s eyes. This dreadful plan is doomed from the start, which is the moment the Earl arrives at the Academy to hire a Governess. Someone older, plainer and not possessed of those female annoyances like finding him desirable. Oh, and she will need to find a suitable orphan for him to adopt.

Overhearing his arrogant plan is Miss Pamela Lockhart, one of the founders of the Academy. She is horrified at his cold-blooded attitude, and determines to defeat him at his own game. The governess who presents herself to Kerrich is everything he asked for – and more.

The love story between Pamela and Devon is extraordinary and the attraction clear even around the disguise! Complicating matters is an excellent plot, and wonderful secondary characters including the orphan who steals many scenes from the principals. Even Queen Victoria herself makes a cameo appearance. No doubt about it, Christina Dodd set a marvelous precedent with this book, and the following stories are just as good – some are reviewed elsewhere on this site. Try one of them or all of them, they’ll make you a convert to the Distinguished Academy of Governesses along with the Earl of Kerrich!

Reviewed in September 2002 by Celia.

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