October 22, 2014
Another Ashley manly man.
Do you know when you read a book and the main characters are so powerfully drawn that
they overwhelm the story? Well, that happens with Jennifer Ashley’s latest, Rules for a Proper Governess. That can be a good thing or a not so good thing – in this case it’s both. Rules for a Proper Governess is part of the continuing saga of the McBride/MacKenzie families. Because it is a story about a McBride/MacKenzie man, you know we are going to see a hero with big…thighs.
There are four characters in this story who are just wonderful – Sinclair “Basher” McBride, Roberta “Bertie” Frasier, and Sinclair’s children, Andrew and Caitriona.
Let’s start with Bertie. What a delightful heroine! I simply loved her! Bertie is full of life; she’s charming, fun, and very street smart. And, she should be street smart, because she is a product of Whitechapel. She has been trained by her con-artist father to be a first-rate pickpocket. She has been ordered by her father to take something from “Basher” McBride because McBride is responsible for sending one of their cohorts to prison. McBride is a solicitor/lawyer/whatever. Well, Bertie has developed a crush on Sinclair so while she does what her father wants she also has some very conflicting feelings about it. Because Bertie has a crush on Sinclair she has started to covertly follow him around. It is during one of these stalking episodes that she urns across his unmanageable children. Bertie’s background makes her the perfect candidate to be a governess for these children – over Sinclair’s objection. Bertie is a welcome breath of fresh air for Sinclair’s household and for his children who are struggling with the loss of their mother and Sinclair’s much-loved wife. For once in a romance story the dearly departed wife is actually loved. Sinclair and his children, especially Caitriona, have been unable to move on from their loss. I was grateful that Ms. Ashley didn’t destroy the memory of Sinclair’s deceased wife in order to make his growing love for Bertie palatable. So many times in romance novels, authors blacken the dearly departed name and I’m assuming that’s because there is only room for one true love in romance. In this book, it’s handled a little more realistically. Oh sure, there is a secret about Sinclair’s wife, but it doesn’t degrade the love he felt for her. I like the way Ms. Ashley presented the idea that, yes, a person can find love again.
Next to Bertie the character I loved most was Andrew, Sinclair’s young, high-energy son, who doesn’t walk into room but charges into them. He doesn’t talk, he shouts. I thought Andrew was a remarkable portrait of a real boy. He actually reminded me a great deal of my nephew.
Sinclair, our hero, is a typical Ashley manly man – troubled, dark, depressed, and hot. However, when Bertie enters his life he is reborn. The dialogue between Bertie and Sinclair is honest, funny, and heartfelt. They are a wonderful couple and by the end of the book neither one of them had changed all that much; they fell in love with each other and didn’t sacrifice who whey were to achieve their HEA.
If I had any quibble it would be with Sinclair’s parenting skills. He seem to be a bit of a cold fish when it came to giving his children what they needed – his attention and love. We also have visits from the MacKenzie clan, and Ian is there once again to offer his sage advice. I also thought that the plot of the story was over-shadowed by the very strong characters of Sinclair and Bertie. It was almost as if we didn’t need anything else going on in the story, in fact I became irritated when the outside folderol interfered with Sinclair and Bertie’s interaction.
Regardless of Sinclair’s neglectful fathering, Super Ian and a behind the scene plot, this is a delightful book and it is a shot in the arm to a series that needed a bit of a boost.
Time/Place: 1885 England