Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lord St. Claire's Angel by Donna Lea Simpson

Celestine Simons was of good family, but an untimely death and a shortage of funds forces the homely spinster to take a position as governess at the estate of Lord Langlow and his wife. Never one to bemoan her change in fortune, Celestine is content to spend her days raising and overseeing their children, knowing in her heart she will never have any of her own.

Lord St. Claire Richmond, Langlow’s brother, is a rogue and seducer, content to while away his days pursuing pleasure—and driving his brother and sister-in-law mad by reducing their female staff to lovelorn fools with his flirtations. When he learns on his annual Christmas visit that the drab Celestine was hired as governess solely to thwart his dalliances, he devises a scheme to both stir her heart and spite his family’s interfering ways.

But as his game unfolds, the cunning St. Claire discovers this conquest may be more challenging than expected when the thoughtful and intelligent Celestine begins to fire an ache in his own heart. And what began as an amusement to give the plain, timid miss an innocent thrill is turning into much more, as St. Claire realizes she may be the one giving him the thrill—and teaching him in a way only a governess can that real beauty lies beneath the surface and that true love is often found where you least expect it.

REVIEW: Though the rake falling in love with a plain governess is something of a trope, there were enough differences here for me find the story appealing. Celestine is not a beauty, and is in fact almost disabled by crippling arthritis. She suffers and has to work through the pain because she has little choice- I feel few Regencies highlight the terrible plight some women at the time faced, especially those in reduced circumstances forced to find a way to earn a living in a harsh world. I was prepared to cheer for Celestine to find love and someone to care for her, but I think she deserved better than St. Claire. Ultimately, the hero came across as too selfish and narcissistic for my taste- he set out to seduce her for sport, not caring at all what that might mean for her precarious place in his brother's household.

In the end, Celestine was the only character I was able to enjoy in this book; everyone else was selfish and heartless in my opinion, a disappointing fact given how eager I was to read this book. 3 stars because it is well written even though I didn't like most of the characters.

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