Saturday, March 28, 2015

Prequel Review: "The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister #0.5)" by Courtney Milan

Novellas aren't usually my thing, especially when it comes to romance. How does one craft a believable love story with so few pages, involving weighty subjects and matters of classism? And all this, without the boon of either party being a wealthy aristocrat?

Apparently, it isn't inconceivable for Courtney Milan. When I waxed poetic about my love for the secondary love affair in The Heiress Effect, I may have mentioned the first couple didn't work for me because Oliver was nothing like his father. Well in these 101 pages, I grew to admire the father more than I admired the son with his larger share of 280 pages- mostly because where Oliver was wishy-washy, Hugo is direct and knows what he wants.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'She will not give up…
'Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
'He cannot give in…
'Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…'

Serena is a woman on a mission, and a woman Hugo must prevent from getting what she wants, if he's to expand his influence. What links both these characters is they are both insanely stubborn and determined to get what they want, even if it costs the other dearly. This makes for quite a few sparks flying between them and the tension of their situations ramp up.

Because it isn't disclosed in the summary, I won't be discussing the main plot point of this book explicitly. Although it isn't particularly unheard of, it is unusual to have it in a historical romance, and the author has used this 'twist' previously in another book of hers I enjoyed, though not quite in the same manner. All in all, it's employed tastefully, even though it makes you twitch in your seat once you learn of it.

The Governess Affair may be short in page count, but it has more than the bare bones you'd expect of it. And again, how often in historical romance are the love stories of the 'lower classes' and non-wealthy people told? Try once every quadrillion other books. This novella is one of the rare ones that meet and exceed my expectations with flying colors. If you're looking for a respite from the doldrums of the usual historical romance tropes, this little novella may be just the thing for you to read.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a prequel I liked better than the first book of the series!

Content: Ages 18+ for sexual content and violence.

Page Count: 101 pages

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