Review: THE GOVERNESS’S SECRET BABY by Janice Preston


*This is the first book review I’ve written in a very long time.  It is by no means a professional review.  I buy the books I review and I only review books I at least like, which is why my reviews are always positive.*

I wanted this book from the first time I saw the cover.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Harlequin Historicals are almost always blessed with beautiful cover art.  So, I checked out the book first to see if the titular governess was, in fact, a governess.  And not a glorified babysitting gold-digger.  I hate that.  Yep, Grace is young, but she successfully completed a training program for governesses.  You don’t do that in any century, unless you’re dedicated.  Next, I needed to make sure the child was more than cute luggage.  She is.  And the Hero?  Was he involved with the baby?  Check.  So, I read the book.

Orphaned, Grace Bertram was brought up comfortably by her uncle and aunt, but not with love.  As a naïve teenager, she fell prey to a sweet-talking boy who convinced her that he loved her.  But, as is often the case, he took off when he found out she was pregnant.  With no law or ethos or social program to help, she was compelled to place her baby girl for adoption.  Back then, of course, that meant a closed adoption, she wouldn’t know who parented her child.

But, she had a plan.  Hardly a kick-butt heroine, Grace finds her own courage and purpose nonetheless.  You know, like most of us not born with a sword in our hands.  She was of sufficient social class and financial means to undergo training to become governess.  (Otherwise, she would’ve been lucky to end up a nursery maid under the charge of a nanny.)  This would ensure her survival without marriage, of course, but most importantly she would find her daughter.

Nathaniel was an heir with a lot to spare, but his father was killed in the same fire which scarred his face.  He shut himself away, fearing the scorn of others.  Especially female others.  But, then, his beloved sister and her husband died too, leaving him guardian of their adopted toddler.  After all this heartache, he decided to give this precious child the family and home he lacked.  But, he’d need some help.

Following a tip, Grace discovered that her baby had been adopted and then orphaned, like her, and sent to live with a grim uncle.  Despite the loneliness of life in a dark mansion tucked away in Northern England, she jumped at the chance.  Her plan had worked!  She’d found her daughter and could now raise her.

The fact that she was actually Clare’s birthmother would stay secret.  It’s presumably the only way to keep her with Clare.

Despite Nathaniel’s misgivings, Grace doesn’t recoil at his appearance.  She’s young, but affectionate towards Clare.  And she’s pretty.  He’d hardly be a heterosexual male if he didn’t notice that.  Of course, he wonders why she’d agree to such a gloomy post when her governess friend snagged a glamorous gig working for royalty in another, much warmer and dryer, country.

Soon, they’re playing Chess and he’s finding excuses to be around her, like teaching her to drive the carriage to town.  It’s kinda scary.  The local preacher pops up, all young and handsome, and doesn’t make it any easier.

Nathaniel really isn’t my type, as heroes go.  I’m more into the tall, boyishly handsome goofball type with the…finely…sculpted…


…backside.  What were we talking about?  Oh!  Right.  Sorry.

This is a ‘Beauty & the Beast’ kind of story, so the hero’s the tortured ‘how can anyone love me’ kind of guy.

I loved that Nathaniel decided to hire a governess instead of a nanny, because he recognized that Clare would quickly outgrow a nanny and lose that loving person.  Instead, he decided to hire one person capable of fulfilling both roles.  Also, he spends time with Clare during a historical time period when men hardly bothered with their own legitimate, biological offspring.  He turns his pain into compassion instead of resentment.

Grace is very young and sweet and I love that it’s her maternal instinct which drives her forward.  I am so sick of kick-butt heroines who were seemingly born that way.  Who can relate to that?  Most of us need to grow up and gain confidence through experience.

The big secret that Grace is actually Clara’s mother eventually breaks, of course, but only to Nathaniel.  Of course, he ought to dismiss her by the standards of the day.  But, too late, he’s in love with her.  Can’t let her go.  More than that, can’t let his mommy find out either.  ‘Mama Bear’ already worries Grace is trying to snag him for his money, ’cause she saw how he looked at her.  Can’t let on that he’s in love with Grace ’cause she’d just hate him.  Then, an accident forces his hand and he’s got to come clean.

I loved the twist that the governess is secretly the baby’s mother, kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire, a parent willing to do anything to be with his or her child.

I’d put the Heat Level at Sensual.  The couple do make love.  It’s believable and not graphically detailed.  Nothing gross or stupid, no need to skip that part.  😉

Here is this book’s page on Ms. Preston’s website, with links to various outlets-

I like to buy direct from Harlequin.  It’s very difficult to find Historical Romance in my local stores, the site calculates Rewards points for me, and my money lets the publisher know she should publish more books by my favorite authors.  😉

The other books in the Governess Tales are listed with this book on the Harlequin site.  I haven’t read them.  Here are their book covers: