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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Bilson

A Waltz with the Outspoken Governess by Catherine Tinley

When her father is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, Mary Smith is kicked out of the finishing school she is attending with nowhere to go. Desperate to get back to her father in Norfolk and help him prove his innocence, Mary has no choice but to accept an offer of employment; assistant governess to the nieces and nephews of Sir Nicholas Denny. Of course, she can’t admit to her employer her ulterior motives - having a name like Mary Smith is obviously a great help in not being connected to her father locked up in jail! With little experience as a governess, she manages to get along by empathising with the children and listening to them, something neither their mother nor their present governess actually seem to do. At the same time she finds herself reluctantly attracted to Nicholas, a clever and kind man who nevertheless considers little outside his own comforts… until Mary comes along and forces him to confront some of his own preconceptions.

This is an interestingly different historical romance, because in a lot of ways the heroine isn’t really the one who undertakes a character growth arc here. Yes, Mary falls in love, but she’s still very much the same in essentials at the end of the book as she is at the start. It’s Nicholas who has to grow and change in order to become worthy of her, and it’s not the standard rake-reformed-by-love arc heroes often get in Regency historicals. Nicholas is a decent man, but he’s an utterly privileged aristocrat who has really never had his eyes opened to how everyone not at his social and wealth level have to navigate the world. Of course, there’s still the problem of a massive secret Mary is concealing which eventually has to come out, but by the end of the book, Nicholas has enough faith in Mary’s integrity to step up for her when she needs him.

I did feel like the final confrontation was somewhat skipped over, as it actually happened off-page and Mary didn’t get to even see the traitors being apprehended, was only told about it after the fact. It had been built up enough that I thought she deserved to actually be there; though it all hung together logically, it felt a bit rushed for my liking. It didn’t really reduce my enjoyment of the book in any significant way, however, and I’m happy to give it five stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.

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