Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Pages: 442
Date of Publication: February 2010
Publisher: Bethany House

Book Description (from the publisher):
Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his. But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.
He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.
Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

I really enjoyed Julie Klassen's two earlier books (Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary's Daughter), and her latest is no exception. Set in Regency England, it incorporates a bit of mystery and suspense to the story beyond the developing romance. Regency England is one of my favorite times and places to read about. Stir in a little mystery (like what happened to Olivia's mother? and who is trying to reveal Lord Bradley's secret?), and I'm hooked.

But although I did enjoy this one, I didn't find it as absorbing as Ms. Klassen's two earlier books. I've been trying to figure out what it was that made this one different for me, and I think it comes down to a few different things. First, I guess Olivia didn't grab me like Lilly (The Apothecary's Daughter) and Charlotte (Lady of Milkweed Manor) did. I'm not sure why, but I felt like Olivia was more of a victim than the other two, even though they all were victims in some way in their books. I also was not that enamored by Lord Bradley. He had redeeming qualities, but his actions often irritated me and made it hard for me to appreciate his better qualities. He just wasn't my type. In addition, I had an early hunch about who the "woman in the veil" was, which turned out to be correct, and thus was disappointing. I also would have liked to see more development of Charlotte's friend, Miss Ludlow. I liked her character, and would love to read her story.

Anyway, I don't want this to sound like I did not like this book, because I really did! It was very well written, it had very interesting sub-plots, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The world of governesses and domestic servants was fascinating--I never knew that there would be such strict distinctions made between the women who worked as servants and the women who worked as governesses. It was surprising to see that shift occur in Olivia's case--even though she had been a domestic servant ("under nurse" to the children), she was immediately treated differently and expected not to mingle with the servants when she became the governess. As seen in Klassen's earlier books, the faith aspect is subtle and not preachy, though I think it is more evident in this book than in the others.

Julie Klassen remains one of my favorite authors. The Silent Governess was definitely a worthwhile read, and if you like Regency romances, you will really like this book.

**This book was provided for review through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program (for more information on my reviews, please view my disclosure policy).**


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