by Nita Abrams

March 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-7326-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Kensington Publishing
Mass Market Paperback

Rachel Maitland Ross is desperate to stay in London when her uncle would have sent her for a vacation to Germany to get acquainted with her future bethrothed. Instead, Rachel answers an advertisement for a governess to Lady Sara Bennett’s niece, Caroline, in an effort to stay in London and hide from her uncle. Her interview didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped and was forced to reveal who she really was – the niece of a very wealthy Anglo-Jewish banker. Lady Sara, desperate enough for a capable individual to care for her mischievous niece, and soft-hearted enough to succumb to Rachel’s plea for help, takes her in as a houseguest – not as a full governess because that would have relegated her to a little better than servant status, but she is still to teach Caroline and to help her curb her wayward niece.

But Captain Richard Drayton is the legal guardian of young Caroline, and came home injured from the war a little after Rachel was “hired”. Puzzled of her status as a quasi-governess, Richard was suspicious of Rachel despite his sister Sara’s assurances of her good character. What follows is a lot of havey-cavey activities mostly relating to war, which involves Richard, most of Rachel’s family, such as her brother and father, and Rachel herself.

The story delves in detail about the spy-ish activities of the government. In addition to the spy missions, Nita Abrams introduces the conflict in the romance between Richard, a peer, and Rachel, a “Jewess.” Wealthy Jews in Regency England held a rather vague position in society – though they were often called for financial help in the war effort, Jews weren’t accepted to mingle within the haut ton. In fact, Richard demonstrates the ignorance and prejudice of every peer by assuming that Rachel and her family weren’t proper English citizens. Ms. Abrams lightly explores the plight of the rich Jews during that time – which wasn’t really any different than the Jews in 1930s America. If you’ve seen film The Gentlemen’s Agreement, there are scenes in the book reminiscent of the film.

But Richard, despite his initial discovery of Rachel’s faith after falling in love with her, is as determined to find a way for them to be together as Rachel is in rejecting his suit because of their differences. But this conflict isn’t the only one that hinders their budding romance – there’s also her connection to “couriers” – men who work behind the enemy lines as spies for the British government. With so many things going on, the romance gets waylaid and picked up now and again when convenient. For that reason, I didn’t feel that there was any real chemistry between Richard and Rachel. But there are still lots of action and intrigue for any reader to keep the pages turning.

Reviewed in May 2002 by Veronica.

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