With over four months of 2012 already under our belts, we’ve been noticing a curious trend — the governesses are missing! A time-honored traditional occupation of historical romance heroines, women employed to watch over other peoples' children are a staple of the genre. Back in 2011, we met eleven historical heroines who found love while taking care of small people did so in books that received RT ratings of four stars or higher. (And of these eleven novels, five of the books included the word “governess” in the title!) So who is taking care of children so far this year? So far, it's been a mix and match bag ...
During April we got our first “normal nanny” of the year in Master of Sin by Maggie Robinson. Andrew Rossiter is a renowned male courtesan in Italy, but when his wife is murdered and his young son is in the line of fire, Andrew decides to relocate to the Scottish highlands. Gemma Peartree accepts a governess position in his household, and is described by RT Senior Reviewer Kathe Robin as “a plain brown mouse” but despite this, Gemma catches Andrew’s attention. (We think it may have something to do with the fact that the woman is armed with an impressive wit and often has trouble curbing her tongue.) However, as passion heats their Highlands home, will this couple be able to protect the little boy that they both love?
The only other governess that has caught our attention in 2012 is Miranda Jarett's Jane Woods, a governess-turned-matchmaker-turned-tour-guide. (And isn’t that a mouthful?) Back in January readers met Jane, who has cared for the Duke of Aston’s daughters for almost a decade. When the woman and her two grown charges travel to Venice, she helps the aristocratic young ladies get married. Although the Duke, Richard, isn’t pleased to learn that both of his girls have wed, he decides to keep Jane employed as a tour guide and it’s not long before her enthusiasm for Venice has Richard seeing Jane as a vibrant and desirable woman. But will he convince her that she should accept a new position — as The Duke’s Governess Bride?
Jane’s transition from hired help to head of a Duke’s household is quite the leap, but it’s still a smaller change in status than the one that the heroine makes in Tracy Anne Warren's April novel. The “faux governess” Emma is actually a bonafide princess. But Emma wants what readers will recognize as a Roman Holiday-style vacation from her duties before she marries the royal suitor her brother has selected. During this heroine's adventure abroad, she meets the Earl of Lyndhurst, who believes Emma to be a lost governess and takes her under his wing. And although romance blossoms between the couple, there’s no future in sight for The Princess and the Peer, and Emma returns back to her small country. But when she and Nicholas meet again, will she decide that love is worth the risk? You’ll have to read the series starter to find out!
In wrapping up the governesses of 2012, we think it’s worth mentioning that thus far, there have been as more books about heroines who are teachers as there have about women who (truly) work as governesses.
Readers met the first teacher heroine of 2012 back in January, in Julie Anne Long's How the Marquess Was Won. When schoolmistress Phoebe Vale ventured outside of the classroom, she accidentally stepped into the ton's spotlight after winning the heart of a titled man. Next up was the leading lady of Isabel Cooper’s paranormal historical series second, Lessons After Dark. The April novel followed teacher Olivia Brightmoore who had just accepted a position at a school for supernaturally-gifted children. And finally, rounding out our list of 2012 heroines who teach children is heroine Glenna of Genevieve Graham's new historical fiction, Sound of the Heart. When Scottish lass Glenna is caught poaching a deer, she is sent to the American colonies as an indentured teacher. Readers will feel for Glenna and her childhood sweetheart Dougal as these separated lovers try to make their way back to each other!
Are you hopeful that we’ll be seeing more governesses and teachers during 2012, or frankly, are you enjoying reading about heroines with other occupations? There have certainly been a recent influx of seamstresses and heroines with unusual occupations (we’re looking at you auction house owner Emma from Madeline Hunter’s The Seduction of Miss Fairbourne). Let us know what you think in the comments below!