Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.
Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.
But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?
As a bit of a disclaimer, the editor for these novellas (Tessa Woodward) and I spoke during the HarperCollins shindig at Book Expo. Aside from an admitted love of Governesses (and wallflowers!) myself, Tessa and Maya (Rodale) discussed this new series about a group of Governesses who band together as a club. I was hooked almost immediately. The idea of it, akin to the Babysitter's Club, had me pumped to read what these ladies got up to. "Claire", the first novella, didn't disappoint at all.
Claire is an efficient, well mannered young lady of gentle breeding. The fact she's been reduced to being a Governess has not made her bitter (though the circumstances perhaps did a little), instead she devotes herself to teaching her charges (the Aldgate children) that with determination and an willingness to never quit you can succeed in any endeavor.
Jacob Knightly is the exact opposite. Needing to flee London due to some...unsavory business with his family, he chose the Aldgate household as a refuge to find himself. Considered a waste and worthless he wants nothing more then to prove everyone wrong.
While the story follows the typical romance outline I found how the two interacted with each other and with their circumstances to be the engaging aspect of the story. Jacob obviously has no clue how to be a tutor--other then a vague belief that he hated having to study when he could be outdoors he's at a loss. Even without Claire pointing out all the small (and large) ways he fails at being a real tutor, Macdonald does a good job illustrating that Jacob is new to the subservient role. I almost wish Macdonald hadn't had Claire pointing out such moments, but Jacob's befuddlement was amusing to read.
As can be expected of a governess tale kids are a big part of the story and these ones aren't annoying. Reading as Jacob struggled to come up with ways to keep his two charges interested and engaged reminded me of when I was a teacher.
The secondary characters--Lucy, a maid who befriends Claire, as well as Louisa who is the most prominent member of the Governess Club to show up (other then Claire of course), hold their own and offer different perspectives for Claire to think on. Though I think that Claire worries too greatly about matters she can't control (this may be a subtle way of Macdonald to show her guilt over what happened following her mother's decline though--a sort of after effect) and the solution to all her problems is a bit too pat, I find myself eager to see how the Governess Club fares in the next book, about Bonnie.