Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Secret Desires of a Governess
Abigail Hallaway has two sister's who are countesses and a fortune coming in a few years, but she still wants something more from her life. She has no desire to marry and give her life over to a man, so she takes a position as a governess in a far away castle in the North. Elliot Wright, the Earl of Brendall, lives a solitary existence with only his son Jacob, and a handful of wary servants, for company. He and Abigail do not get off on the best start as she is forced to walk in the rain 15 miles when she is forgotten at the train station. That doesn't stop either of them from recognizing that they are immensely attracted to the other; she finds him so different from the fops of the ton with his rugged muscles and she is blonde and small and lively. Abby immediately starts lessons with Jacob and is shocked to learn that the 8 year-old cannot read but devises a method of teaching him his letters and it isn't long before he is making progress that his father finds miraculous. Elliot has secrets and fears of his own; his wife had gone crazy and became convinced people were after her until she died in a fire she started and was buried far away where no one could find her grave.
Abby finds her time with Jacob enjoyable and feels a sense of accomplishment for what she is doing, but her time is made awkward by her immense attraction to the master of the house and the very overt dislike the housekeeper, Martha, shows her. Elliot tries to stay away from Abby because he fears ruining another light-hearted beautiful woman, but he cannot prevent the passionate kisses he and Abby share. Things get serious when someone pushes Abby off a cliff and Elliot wonders if his deceased wife's fears someone was trying to kill her were real. Their kisses turn into more than that and soon Abby and Elliot are sharing a bed and at first she is able to convince herself that she still wants her independence, but she is eventually forced to admit that she wants more from Elliot than he is offering. Another attempt is made on Abby's life and Elliot is more determined than ever to catch the murderer, and starts with those who are closest to him. But even when the mystery is solved Elliot knows that he has nothing to offer Abby and Abby knows that Elliot is being a coward when it comes to love. Elliot will have to learn that love can be scary, but that he doesn't need to offer her more than everything.
Abby really did not click with me for some reason- perhaps I am just a little bored with a heroine who has everything and yet just has a desire for something more. I understand that it would be normal to want something more from your life, but it just seemed too crazy to believe that she would do something like this when she didn't need to. Throughout the book I never really got a feeling for who she was or really what drove her. Elliot was a little more developed, but it was mostly through learning about his history with his wife, his father, and the various members of the community around him. Both of them just felt a little flat and I would have just liked more; more feelings that I could relate to, more back story, more realism, just plain more. I would say that the relationship between them was believable, but the story really began to take on a heavy drag, almost a depression, when thoughts about attempted murder and what happened to his ex-wife began to intrude. I wanted a little more happiness to make their relationship more enjoyable to read about it. The sex was smoking hot, including a mild spanking scent, but had was a tad on the wordy and dragged-on side.
The book's dealing with a learning disability in reading, which I presume is dyslexia from the way it is described, was very interesting. While I have no knowledge of how dyslexia is treated I would be interested to know if the methods she was using were accurate. As a teacher I really dislike it when a book portrays someone with no experience and no knowledge or training comes in and miraculously teaches the unteachable child with kindness and patience. If it were as easy as that I would have become a special education teacher. I really liked that Elliot suffered from this learning disability; so much of what Elliot was thinking and feeling regarding his relationship with Abigail was irritating and completely blown out of proportion but his fears about telling her about this were genuine and really got me on his side for awhile. The murder plot really felt like it dragged for me and I was almost uninterested in how it would turn out. Because the relationship and romance and characters weren't done to my taste I found it hard to really get into any part of the book, including this part. I was also a little disappointed at the simplicity with which this plot turned out.
Rating: An unexceptional book I couldn't decide between 2 and 3 hearts, but decided on a 2 since I had been giving so many 3's and it took me over a week to finish.