by Karen Hawkins

August 2002
ISBN: 0-380-82079-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

When Anthony Elliot, Earl of Greyley, is left with five unruly orphans, the youngest 4 and the oldest 11, from his deceased cousin, he plans on bringing them up as perfect examples of good education and breeding—a plan that is made impossible by the interference of their manipulative grandmother.

Soon it becomes obvious that no governess proves to be the children’s match, and Anthony is forced to employ Anna Thraxton, the only governess able to handle the “difficult” cases… and best friend of his little sister. But Anna, once a member of the ton herself and only in employ due to her grandfather’s bad investments and her love for the expensive finery, is more than he expected.

Anthony, who is engaged to be married, doesn’t believe in denying himself the pleasure of Anna’s attention and kisses. She might be meddling when it comes to his children and his estate, but she is vivacious and fiery and so very beautiful. And Anna? Aware of her social status she is scheming to improve his simmering fiancée’s disposition, while trying her best to deny the temptation of becoming Anthony’s mistress.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? And the first 100 pages are exactly that. However, all that comes after that is… disappointing. Not what I expected from a regency historical and an author that had delivered the fun and light-hearted romp of The Seduction of Sara.

The biggest problem I had is with the hero. He might be gorgeous, titled and wealthy, and the heroine seems to like him well enough, but I didn’t think him honorable—he’s asking her to be his mistress while betrothed to another; or the way he acts towards his children (he’s mostly shouting and punishing them); or how he takes care of his troublesome relatives (he is bullying and threatening them into observing his rules, his orders). Not once did I find him worthy of her. Not once did I understand her fascination for him. She, who is beautiful, caring, loving and lively, deserves so much better.

My other problem was with the pacing. To be honest, most of the time I was bored. It just moved too slowly, was missing the witty exchanges and the sensual tension. Don’t want to reveal too much, but the one and only love scenes in this book is as close to the end of the book as you can get, and left me cold! I didn’t feel any of the author’s love for her characters or their story. It felt more like an unpleasant task instead of a labor of love and passion.

However, it is not all that bad. Ms Hawkins did create secondary characters that seem to leap off the pages. They are well rounded and thought out. I’m not soon to forget Anna’s grandfather or Anthony’s five children.

But when it comes to well-written and well-loved governess themed regency historicals, I will go back to my favorites, penned by Christina Dodd and Suzanne Enoch. And for any other regencies, there is always Julia Quinn and Amanda Quick, as well as Ms Hawkins’ previous titles and hopefully her upcoming ones.

Reviewed in September 2002 by Kris Alice.

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