Thoughts After Reading:
I usually enjoy a good governess traditional, so when I came across Andrea Pickens' The Defiant Governess I thought I'd give it a shot. The result was a impressively solid regency romance. The characters, storyline, and resolution very much held my interest from start to finish, even if none of the elements were particularly unique.
The heroine is the daughter of a duke, a beautiful and very free spirited miss. She has grown up loving nothing more than a good horse race, or pulling off a clever scheme. The heroine is not exactly spoiled, but her exuberant and good nature is reflected by her family's and servants' tendency to indulge her. However, her father becomes worried that she's reached the age of twenty without any sign of toning down her escapades or marrying. She wishes to marry for love, and when she refuses to put serious effort into finding a husband, her father angrily declares that she won't be able to leave the estate until she agrees to marry his best choice of a husband. The heroine comes up with the scheme of filling the position of governess at the hero's estate, at least to see what it's like. After all, unlike marriage taking up a position isn't permanent. So she puts her plan into action. As the title infers, she doesn't take on the job meekly. Instead, the heroine quickly takes charge at the estate, telling the estate manger when things need to be fixed, giving much needed motherly love to the hero's ward (who turns out to be the hero's illegitimate son), and confronting her employer when the need arises. The resulting plot is nothing I haven't read before, but that didn't stop it from engaging my interest nor from presenting a plausible romance. The hero starts out cold and distant from his son, due to past memories and guilt, but the heroine's presence slowly changes that. She helps him find happiness at the estate, and he finds himself enjoying her "defiant" attitude. They eventually come to form something of a family. The prerequisite misunderstanding and conflict was nothing special, but the book really redeemed itself at the final resolution. I liked that the heroine and hero each mistakenly considered themselves to be the problem, rather than trying to blame the other person. It was cleared up in a rather cute fashion, and I was definitely smiling by the end of the book.
There were a couple of elements in Andrea Pickens' The Defiant Governess I could nitpick about, if I wanted to. As a whole, however, it was an engaging and meaningful traditional romance about yet another false regency governess leading to a HEA.