Review – The Rags-to-Riches Governess by Janice Preston

About the Book:

From impoverished governess…

…to wealthy heiress

Governess Leah Thame learns she’s inherited a fortune the day her employer, the enigmatic Earl of Dolphinstone, returns from abroad. They share an instant connection, but in order to claim her inheritance, Leah must resign and find a husband. The guarded widower offers a convenient marriage to stop her leaving, but Leah refuses. She won’t marry the man who’s captured her heart unless there’s a chance of her love being returned…

AMAZON US DIRECT LINK: The Rags-to-Riches Governess

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Orphaned Leah Thame has had to earn her own living for the last several years, and she is currently very happy with her position of governess for the Earl of Dolphinstone’s three children.  Her employment started off strangely, as the earl hired her immediately after the death of his wife, then took off on a political assignment to Vienna.  He has been gone for well over a year, and Leah has formed a strong and loving bond with her charges.  Just as she learns that the earl is due to return home, she receives a mysterious summons to visit a solicitor.  Much to Leah’s shock, she is informed that the man she believed to be her father is not her biological parent.  Two other young ladies are at the same meeting, and she discover she has two half sisters, and they all have the same (now deceased) man, Lord Tregowan, as their father.  Even more amazing is that the three ladies have been named as beneficiaries of Lady Tregowan’s substantial wealth and properties, with certain conditions.  The ladies must move to the London townhouse within a short amount of time, enter society, and find husbands.  Leah is torn.  On one hand, she loves her job and the children, and hates the thought of creating more turmoil in their young lives.  Yet, how can she refuse a fortune and property when it means security for her?

Piers Duval, Lord Dolphinstone, or Dolph, as his friends call him, is finally returning home after the completion of his diplomatic mission, and other delays.  He is riddled with guilt at abandoning his children so soon after the death of their mother, but his even worse guilt over the circumstances of her death drove him away.  Dolph and Rebecca had a marriage of convenience, not a love match, but they seemed to get along well.  Rebecca’s shocking and unexpected demise caused Dolph to believe that his distant manner and his absorption in his political career and estate matters are what drove Rebecca to her end.  Now he has returned, wanting to get close to his children, but not knowing quite how.  His two sons treat him courteously, but warily, and his toddler daughter turns away from him because she doesn’t remember him.

Dolph quickly observes that his children have come to love Leah, and that she has done an outstanding job with their care and education.  The skills that he has honed as a negotiator also tell him that his governess has something on her mind that is troubling her.  Though Leah isn’t ready to confess the details of her inheritance, she does reveal that she has a personal legal matter which she has to consider.  Leah senses Dolph’s awkwardness with his children, and manages to subtly arrange that they spend more time together.  Gradually her plan works, and slowly, the family is becoming reacquainted.  Leah becomes more anxious as the deadline is approaching for her to move to London.  One thing she hadn’t counted on was feeling the intense attraction she does for her employer, or his for her.  Though Dolph feels he could never make a woman happy and will never marry again, he can’t deny how badly he wants Leah.  When she finally makes her decision to leave, he offers a businesslike marriage proposal, which she refuses, as she wants to marry for love. Leah decides to pack up her broken heart and move on to her new life, perhaps to find a man who can genuinely care for her.

THE RAGS-TO-RICHES GOVERNESS held me captive from beginning to end.  I love the theme of this new series with three strangers discovering they are sisters and heiresses.  The glimpses of Aurelia and Beatrice have me eagerly awaiting their stories.  Though Leah could have easily taken the comfortable route and instantly become a mother to the children she loves, and have the man she loves as a husband, she valued herself more highly than that, and held fast to her convictions.  For me, it’s rare than I admire a heroine so much, but I was rooting for Leah all the way.  Having said that, I do understand Dolph’s situation.  He was simply carrying out his duties as his parents did before him, with a convenient marriage, and children at the fringes of his life.  It took a tragedy to shake him up, and his reaction of leaving his children was not a good one.  Still, he came back determined to be a better man.  It also took him by surprise to realize he could genuinely feel love, and seeing the transformation in him was worth several happy sighs.  THE RAGS-TO-RICHES GOVERNESS is a beautifully written and romantic read, full of heart and plenty of emotion.    ~Rose

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