The Game And The Governess
Pocket, Jul 22 2014, $7.99
In 1822 “Lucky Ned” Ashby has become pompous and conceited ever since he became the earl several years earlier due to several untimely deaths. He hires his war friend John Turner as his secretary. However, their third pal Dr. Rhys Gray notices a strain between them probably caused by the changing of their relationship since Turner was Ashby’s superior officer while fighting Napoleon. After an argument over whether women consider wealth when selecting a man, Ned and John make a bet. Ned will pretend to be John the secretary while John will be Ned the earl. As John, Ned must persuade Phoebe Baker to want him as working class Mr. Turner.
Five years earlier, then seventeen year old Phoebe’s circumstances collapsed due to the inaction of the Earl of Ashby who chose to protect his lofty name and reputation rather than take down scoundrel Mr. Sharp; her father died and all she could hope for was becoming a governess. Ned begins his campaign to win Phoebe’s heart, but she seems uninterested in him as her goal remains moving to America. As he falls in love, Ned learns firsthand the downside of England. His biggest fear is that his good luck may have run out when it comes to Phoebe who loathes the Earl of Ashby.
Though historical romance wagers are not new (see His By Christmas by Kaitlin O'Riley), Kate Noble refreshes the concept due to Ned’s coming of age maturation into a caring person rather than vacuous “Lucky Ned”. As he finds out what life is like for non-aristocrats; ironically the romance begins later than usual yet the brave heroine steals this fun Regency from the three betters.