Reviewed by Francine:
The Governess Next Door opens with a classic tale of a Byronic hero borne of natural charisma and through no fault of his, finds himself faced with the haunting memory of an indelicate moment with his esteemed lady cousin, to which long-lasting “what-ifs” occasionally prick his conscience. Later, having duly fled an unhappy existence in England, Raphael Brontes’ new life in France is not as desired though fulfilling in terms of his artistic talents. That is, until tragedy strikes and releases him from a less than romantic episode in his life. Shocked by a bequeathed inheritance he makes the best of his situation, until a young minx, as tempting as the salacious devouring of the first seasonal strawberry views him as a suitor. But Angelique reminds him of a beautiful rose with vicious barbs, whilst her genteel governess could so easily have stepped from the pages of Jane Eyre, if he were to judge Prudence Middleton on reticence alone.
Like him, Prudence has a dark past too, and although enamoured by Raphael, she knows her place in the scheme of social standing, and duly battles against burgeoning desire despite his overt willingness to engage her in mind and discourse. Thus, as novels penned by the Bronte sisters’ add flavour to the romantic dialogue, the life of the full cast becomes deeply entwined, threaded through with fictional secrets, wicked deceits, theft, and more, and the author leaves one in no doubt she has delved into the history of the Bronte’ household and respective novels. This is a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable read.