Generally speaking, the McBride installments in Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series just aren’t as strong as the ones focused on the MacKenzies. This book doesn’t buck the trend. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I just didn’t love it as much as, say, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, featuring the hero’s sister Ainsley. Of course, it’s through Ainsley that we met Sinclair. He was introduced as a brooding widower with two unruly children. Surprisingly, the heroine of this story isn’t the woman I expected; though the widow he kissed on-page a few books back does make an appearance.
Sinclair’s leading lady is actually Bertie, a pickpocket who lives in the low-end of London with her thug of a father. She is unabashedly unrefined and refreshingly honest. She starts to fall for Sinclair when he saves her friend from a conviction for a crime she didn’t commit. Unfortunately, her father doesn’t share that same regard and forces her to steal from the infamous barrister. She almost gets away with it, but he catches up with her –and somehow, despite the circumstances, the two find themselves drawn to one another and give in to a kiss before they part ways.
That kiss prompts Ainsley to seek Sinclair out later… to find out where he lives. That’s when she inadvertently crosses paths with his kids, and their governess quits, leaving the children in Bertie’s care. They take to her right away and insist she become their new caretaker. Apparently, the kids are so unruly, the very fact that they actually like her makes it seem like a good idea to give Bertie the job. And from there, it’s only a matter of time before the fire between Bertie and Sinclair ignites all over again.
So obviously, the premise strains credibility. I mean, Bertie can barely speak proper English. She is a complete stranger and she has never been a governess. Not to mention no one has ever suited these kids but she beguiles them in one afternoon? Add to that, she’d have to look like a total stalker after her first encounter with Sinclair. But you have to put all of that away and just go with it.
Poor Sinclair is really kind of a basket case. His wife has been dead for the past seven years, and he has not recovered from losing her. But Bertie, with her warmth and vitality, finally starts making him come back to life. Not only that, she helps the children and their relationship with their dad with her common sense, love, and support. It’s a little cheesy, but not in a terrible way. It’s just very… optimistic. Bertie is the Cockney diamond in the rough who changes this rich, empty family into a loving, happy unit. The good guys are very good and the bad guys are very bad. It’s not complex. But it’s an enjoyable, feel good journey.
(Side note, I was very surprised to see this takes place before The Wicked Deeds of Daniel MacKenzie. I wonder why that was published before this one.)
Click to purchase: Berkley
Click to purchase: Amazon
Rules for a Proper Governess
by Jennifer Ashley
Release Date: October 7, 2014