The Governess AffairHistorical Fiction, Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister #0.5
She will not give up.
Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in.
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
The Governess Affair is a novella prequel to Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister novels, which I haven’t yet read, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. We quickly learn that the main character, Serena, has been gravely wronged by the Duke of Clermont, and his right hand man, Hugo Marshall, is told to do something about her and get her out of the way — before his duchess comes home and realises that he has once again been sleeping around.
What really matters in this novella, though, is Hugo’s interactions with Serena, and the tenderness he feels for her almost against his will. This is one of those times where a sex scene is absolutely necessary to the plot and characters, and reveals so much about them: it shouldn’t be skipped, because it’s a scene of healing and caretaking. I worry that it verges a little on the trope of (pardon the vulgarity) “magical healing cock”, but I think it’s less that Serena’s problems and fears are all gone than that she has found one person to trust, as a handhold to move toward fuller healing.
The interactions between Serena and her sister, Frederica, are also worthy of note — I’d have loved a little more depth there, a little more understanding of why they’ve ended up in this particular kind of dynamic, and what happens now that Serena has moved away again and started a life of her own, doing her best to fulfil her dreams.
Either way, I’m definitely eager to try the full novels of the series now, which focus on the next generation, by the look of it.