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Friday, July 1, 2011

Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess by Christine Merrill

Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess by Christine Merrill
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (280 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Daphne Collingham is masquerading as a governess in Lord Timothy Colton's home— determined to discover if he is responsible for her beloved cousin's death. She's prepared to uncover secrets and scandal, but the biggest revelation is the way she feels under the lord's dark gaze….

Lord Colton is suspicious of the alluring new governess—and with the furor surrounding him he must control his passion. But a man has his limits, and the delectable Miss Collingham is pure temptation….

Daphne Collingham takes on a whole new persona to learn the truth about her cousin, Clare’s death. This deception turns out to be a rite of passage for Daphne but it also brings on lots of heartache. Instead of attending balls, musicales, parties and flirting to the point of creating scandal in London, she is in Wales playing governess to three troubled children who have joined forces against the world. Lily, Edmund, and little Sophie know more about their mother’s death than anyone realizes, but keep quiet with deep–down fear.

The children’s father Lord Timothy Colton, whom Daphne believes is a murderer and a brute, turns out to be a self-loathing man devoid of any hope for redemption for what he believes he did while drunk and in a fit of temper.

Timothy’s marriage to the promiscuous Clare had made his life a living hell. Now, even after her death, her past actions continue to influence. Timothy acts totally out of character, seemingly bent on proving to all how horrible he is, but somewhere along the way he realizes life goes on. The governess that he so resented having to tolerate brings needs, desires, and bone-deep longing rushing back into his life.

Little Sophie and the older children Edmund and Lily are the catalyst in unraveling the mystery of the death in the house. As their fears become known, the truth emerges. Christine Merrill reveals how children see and cope with stress in life. The strengths they possess and the faith they have in a mother’s word (lies though they be) gives the story a special poignancy.

The duke and duchess, Timothy’s friends, add a significant element to the story, while the dead Clare, the antagonist, continues to control emotions. The guilt, fear, and self-loathing she engendered in those she should have loved colors their actions and stalls out their lives until Daphne, without realizing it, finds the key to set them free to move on.

The plot of the story is predictable and the protagonists have traits, flaws, and lack of insight in so many ways that I found myself not as invested in the story as I usually am. However, the children, especially little Sophie, kept me reading like crazy to be sure that they got past the trauma and had a healthy start on their happy-ever-after.

The arrival of Daphne’s father brings on the seemingly insurmountable conflict. Deception is a big obstacle to overcome. How Christine Merrill works through the emotional upheaval, fears, and tears makes page-turning reading. When she finally gets Timothy and Daphne back together with their true personalities in place, the house in Wales, so long full of negativity and fear, bubbles with joy of lovers reunited and happy children secure in the knowledge that they are LOVED.