This is the first book I’m reading by Ellie Macdonald. Perhaps that wasn’t a smart move as this is the last book in the “Governess Club” series, so I was jumping into a bunch of characters who had already been established in previous books in the series. As I mentioned in another post, though, I was really draw to this gorgeous, serene, and sedate cover. (But looks CAN be deceiving, as Louisa is anything but serene and sedate!)
THE PLOT: Louisa has been on the run for years (at the beginning, you don’t know why or for how long or from whom). The reader does know she abandoned her other friends in the Governess Club. She stops during bad weather at a pub/inn being run (poorly) by Giant Johnny Taylor, a former prizefighter. He and Louisa quickly strike up a deal: she will become part owner and take over accounting and other tasks while Johnny plays host. Their partnership leads to attraction, and they embark on an affair, which Louisa insists will remain merely physical. Johnny is falling in love, but Louisa can’t commit to love or risk settling in one place and letting her past catch up with her.
MY TWO CENTS: Readers who met Louisa in the series’ previous books are probably used to her prickly nature by now, and even looking forward to her romantic downfall. For a newbie, though, she was kind of shockingly unpleasant. I guess the point is that underneath she was vulnerable, and that’s what Johnny sensed and fell in love with (hence, the horrible and completely inappropriate nickname of “kitten”), but I didn’t completely buy it. For a man who could have his pick of women, why would he pick Ms. Snippy with her chin constantly in the air? Sure, she’s good at math, but what else? Well, okay, the love scenes were fairly explicit. But Louis makes it perfectly clear that she’s not engaging with her whole heart, so how does this get beyond physical attraction?
A pet peeve of mine: I get really irritated at heavily repeated phrases. So I understand that Johnny’s catchphrase is “Yea gods,” but it got really annoying really fast, and we see it 24 times in this book. That’s WAY too many. Maybe fewer than 10 times would have been appropriate and not as annoying. Johnny also calls Louisa “kitten” 33 times, which is way, way too many. (I also personally hate when men call a woman “Kitten,” which seems contrived and precious. Plus, as I mentioned, completely inappropriate for Louisa’s character. “Barracuda” probably would have been much more appropriate.) Finally, Louisa “lifts her chin” (or tilts or raises it) 36 times. I understand the gesture, but the writing is just too repetitive. Repetitive enough that I noticed it fairly consistently.
I do like, though, how the author deliberately sets out to cover some of the less pleasant realities of romance. Louisa and Johnny are still arguing over very important issues at the end of the end of the story, and that makes sense. I’d rather see that than “We’re perfectly happy and never disagree on anything.”
BOTTOM LINE: I will probably give Ellie Macdonald another shot and see if I like another of her characters better than Louisa. Since I started at the end anyway, I’m thinking Sara (Book 3) sounds pretty interesting. But as far as this book goes, the character of Louisa will probably turn off more readers than are drawn in, so if you’re just starting the series, it’s probably wise to start with the first book in the series, Claire.
TEACUP RATING: About three teacups out of five.
ON SALE DATE: Louisa will be available in eformats on October 7, 2014. I can’t find a release date for the paperback format, but the other books in the series are being released in paperback, so I assume this one will too at some point.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.