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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Governess Affair (The Brothers Sinister) - Courtney Milan The Governess Affair  - Courtney Milan

This is a novella. I am not a fan of the novella because in my opinion they are over too soon (if they are good) and pointless (if they are bad). However, this one is free on amazon, and is the prequel to my upcoming buddy read, so I decided to read it last night.


For those of you who are participating in the buddy read, and who aren't going to read this, I am about to provide you with a summary of the plot. Obviously, I haven't read the book itself, but I do think that this novella provides some helpful background to that story/series.


Before we get into spoiler territory, however, I want to say a couple of things about Courtney Milan. One: Courtney, you are awesome. Two: this novella is worth reading.


The thing that I like about Courtney Milan is that her characters are real. They are flawed, and genuine, and interesting. I really believe that she could write any genre that she chose. She chooses to write romance, and good for her. I also really like the fact that she writes about characters who aren't always aristocracy.


The regency romance has specific tropes and requirements, and she goes along with those, but always with the Courtney Milan twist. A little darker, maybe. A little more truthful, maybe. A little deeper, maybe. A little bit more honest about the limits of that particular society, and it's particular rules. She isn't buying into the fairytale quite as much as many regency authors do - she is always willing to acknowledge that there was an ugly side to all of that prettiness. Imbalances of power. Corruption. Entitlement. Sometimes, even, understated violence.


I'm not sure quite how to express it, but that is what I really love about her writing.


Now, for the plot summary, with spoilers:



So, basically, the titular governess is the h, Serena. She has been raped by the Duke of Clermont - an imbalance of power rape, not a violent rape, and has become pregnant with his child. He is an utterly worthless ass of a man, whose affairs are managed by the H, Hugo, also known as the "Wolf of Clermont". Hugo is tasked with getting rid of Serena, as the Duke's wife is pissed about his infidelity, and if she finds out about Serena, all hell is going to break loose (aka, the Duke will be broke, which translates to Hugo not getting paid). Hugo and Serena, of course, fall in love.


Both Hugo and Serena are likeable characters. Hugo is the son of a coal miner, former pugilist, with ambitions far beyond his station. Serena is unbreakable, strong, and a fierce opponent. Hugo despises his employer, but desperately wants to become rich and prove the voices in his head wrong.


In the end, Hugo takes down the Duke with sheer force of will and personality, and a satisfying gut punch (literally and figuratively). This story ends, and the Duchess Wars begins, with both sons of the Duke Clermont, legitimate and bastard, at Eton at the same time.

(show spoiler)



A satisfying novella. Had it been longer, there would have been more stars!