Title: The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2)
Author: Tessa Dare
Read harder Challenge: Yes, a book of romance by/about a POC (MC is mestiza)
Star Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ /5
“If she possessed any wisp of rationality, she wouldn’t have made such a fool of herself with the Bookshop Rake.”
I can’t exaggerate how much I enjoyed this book. When a Bookshop Rake is introduced on the first page, you’re going to have a good time. Parts were laugh aloud funny, parts tugged every available inch of my heartstrings, and parts were super steamy. Overall, it was a compulsively great read that I finished in a day – but will want to go back to squeeze more goodness out of.
Tessa Dare generally writes exceptionally good historical romance – light, funny, with well-researched components and ladies who both fit into and recognize the constraints of the time period. In the Girl Meets Duke series, readers have been following the BEST group of female friends I have ever had the pleasure to acquaint myself with. In the last book, Emma married the Duke of Ashbury (who was also an amazing character, but I digress). Emma is a lady with a living, and a stutter, and the main character of this book, Alex, is also a woman who is used to making her own way. She sets clocks for a living and is in a bookstore pursuing her favorite hobby, astronomy, when she meets the Bookshop Rake. While she attempts to forget him and their brief encounter, the paths collide again some time later. Of course, sparks fly, and the book is spent figuring out what these two must do in order to end up together. Penelope and Nicola, the last two in the Fearsome Four of Female Friends, are lovely support for Alex as she tries to get it together.
Hilarious and interesting details abound. The hero is in charge of two possibly orphaned wards who do normal ward things like have a daily funeral for a doll – which the Duke, Chase, and Alex must attend, and instead of having class, they learn how to be pirates. Conveniently, Alex was raised on the high seas, so they do receive some expert training in that regard.
So – heartwarming womanly friendship is clutch. The fact that these women are outcasts who love each other conditionally – also clutch. Tessa Dare makes a deliberate choice, in this book as in the previous one, to have a male hero who must make himself deeply vulnerable in order to accept what our heroine offers him. While I preferred Ashbury as a hero (I thought he was funnier), there was something absolutely endearing about Alex’s hero Chase and his messy relationship with his wards and everyone else who happens to care about him. What sets this book apart is, after all, the relationships the characters have with each other, which are vivid, loving, and as complicated as real life. Throw in a pair that the reader knows is Meant To Be Together, and some spicy, spicy loving, and you’ve got a recipe for a compulsively readable romance.
My one question, which may make its way into the final copy of this book, is about astronomy. It plays no small role in this one, and I’d love a little note at the end with some information about astronomy during the time period and what about the events in the book are real and which are imagined. It seems clear Tessa Dare did her research in this regard and I’d love to know more about it!