The Governess Wears Scarlet

Sari Robins
2008, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Avon, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060782498

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

I picked up The Governess Wears Scarlet over a month ago, read a few chapters, put it down, read a few more books, picked it up again, read a few more chapters, put it down, read a few more books. Repeat several times before I finally managed to finish it. It wasn’t exactly a book I couldn’t put down. It did get better toward the end, but not enough to redeem it.

Abigail West was raised in an orphanage along with her younger brother. After being released from the orphanage, her brother turned to the wild side while she took a respectable position as governess to an aristocratic family. Unfortunately, she misguidedly fell for the son of her employer and, following an affair, was fired without references. Her brother sought revenge on her behalf, but wound up with a warrant out for his arrest, and disappeared. Because Abigail wants to find him, she seeks a job in London while going out at night, dressed as a widow, to search for him.

Her next employer is the new Viscount Steele, a former Sentinel and current Solicitor General for the government who was granted his title after saving the prince’s life. He is the guardian of two recently orphaned twin boy who are the nephews of his late wife and there are suspicions that their parents were killed. So he, along with an undercover spy, are attempting to determine who is behind their deaths and who may still be trying to eliminate both the boys and Steele in order to secure his former father-in-law's title.

In the meantime, Steele likes to relive his Sentinel days and serve justice by going into the dangerous parts of London, dressed in black and wearing a mask. It his here that he rescues a young widow, and attraction overcomes them both, leading to several intimate encounters.

As I’ve already made clear, I had a very difficult time getting into this book. I’m not sure if I just skimmed over the explanation of Steele’s backstory or if it just wasn’t fully explained, but I spent about two thirds of the book not quite sure how he was related to his wards. Either way, it's not a good thing. And yet, for the most part I liked the relationship between Steele and Abigail. Both had real concerns about their class differences, but also built a friendship on which their love was based. Their emotions rang very true to me. Their situations - and reactions to them - seemed more realistic to me than other governess books (of which there are plenty).

In the end, I think, although I had few real problems with this book, it simply bored me. Some aspects bothered me a great deal - such as incredibly, ridiculously, laughably easy resolutions to various conflicts - but for the most part my grade is what it is because there just wasn’t anything that stood out about this book. The Governess Wears Scarlet wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t in any way memorable, either.

-- Jane Granville

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