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Serena Barton has been let go from her position as a governess by the childish and repugnant Duke of Clermont. Returning to her sister’s home disgraced and secretly pregnant, Serena does what any gentlewoman in her position would.
Oh no, wait, she does something completely brave and unexpected. She fights back.
True, it’s a passive fight, but in a genre of novels where you can expect the heroine to show just enough spunk to keep herself alive until the hero shows up, it’s the most refreshing plan I’ve ever heard. Serena confronts the duke about taking responsibility for the baby. When he laughs her off, she plants her pregnant butt firmly in front of his manor, preventing him from making up with his wife. The wife who left because the duke is a philandering arsehole. The wife who has all of the duke’s money.
Understandably, the duke doesn’t take Serena’s presence well and that’s when our hero comes in. Hugo Marshall, the wolf of Clermont, is the duke’s fixer. He’s fixing the duke’s financial crisis, his failing marriage, and now, Serena. An ex-pugilist who has a dark past, (don’t they all,) Hugo isn’t known for his kind, caring manner or solving problems the conventional way. Ruthless is how he’s described, and no better word exists for a man who ruined the duke’s creditors in the papers and stole a shut-in’s house, but beyond that Hugo is a complex character trying to make up for childhood abuse and poverty. He is refreshingly up front in his desire for the heroine and their first love scene is by turns tender and one of the hottest I have read.
Technically a novella, Courtney Milan packs in more character development and plot in 101 pages than many romances do in thrice the space. In fact, in my only gripe with the writing, her inclusion of the plot filled epilogue somewhat spoils the H/H’s HEA. Taking place 12 years in the future, we meet back up with the next generation, setting the stage for Milan’s The Brothers Sinister Series. While well written and surely helpful when The Duchess War comes out, we don’t see Serena or Hugo. We’re told they’re happy and living their HEA, but as longtime romance readers know, the epilogue is usually a scene where the heroine is pregnant, the hero has made up with his/her family, they’re still in love and lust, and usually ends with a feel good, fade-to-black love scene. To instead end with teenage bullying and plot revelations is different. Not bad, but also not what I expect.
Regency fans, fans of strong heroines or flawed heroes, lovers of hot sex scenes, don’t just buy The Governess Affair Buy Courtney Milan’s entire back catalogue. She is the best romance novelist in years.