Expecting cute and precocious children plotting to marry off their handsome bachelor papa/uncle/guardian, I was a bit disappointed that these conniving little ones are a bit old to be cute or precocious. Nevertheless, these short stories can adequately satisfy any regency romance fan.
The Best Father in England leads Elzanne Corbett as a tutor for the widowed Bradley Trowbridge’s son, Rudyard. But women are usually not considered competent enough to tutor a young man – they’re usually relegated to a governess role, teaching the basics, not to mention sewing and watercolors, to little children, not twelve year-old boys who have problems with English grammar, mathematics and science. Surprisingly, Bradley is more impressed than offended at Elzanne’s intelligence. Both Elzanne and Bradley are very likeable – Rudyard, however, isn’t – but he’s hardly a character and more like a topic of conversation between the two.
In A Father’s Love by Valerie King, James Westbury finds himself as a guardian to his late brother’s four lively girls. Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) he also inherited their governess Alison Russell, a woman he had been in love with for the past eight years. However, having been refused for that long, James decides to settle for second best – he needs a wife to take care of his wards. The story as well as James and Alison are endearing, and though Alison’s emotional baggage and the resulting resolution a bit too convenient, it leaves a fuzzy and warm feeling inside.
Jeanne Savery’s A Father’s Duty is likewise manipulated so that all the characters, even the dead wife, approves of Colonel Rath Moorhead’s courtship of his daughter’s governess, Annabelle Cranston. However, it’s not a proper story if there isn’t a villain, or, in this case, a villainess, who is set to destroy their budding romance. But with everyone else in favor of the couple, his deceased wife, his sisters-in-law, his marriageable daughter and even the indomitable Lady Jersey along with matrons of Almack’s, how can Rath and Annabelle NOT have a happy ending?!
In all this, the children played a minor role in their parents’ romance. As these “youngsters” fall more in the teenage-to-adult category, they’re more likely to worry about themselves rather than the state of their father’s bachelorhood. Despite the missing cutesy children, as the title and the cover suggests, these stories are enough to satisfyingly curly up with on a cold winter day.