Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.
Comment: This is the second installment of the Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare.
In this story, following the events of the first book after a while, we focus on another one of the girls from the quartet of friends whose lives have not been as traditional nor as formal as one would expect from the regency period. Alexandra Mountbatten was raised in a ship by her captain father and now she dreams of the stars and also of Chase Reynaud, with whom a random clash at the bookstore never left her thoughts. However, he does seem to have forgotten her, especially when he hires her as a governess for the two girls he is in charge of. However, as their relationship also gets more intimate, can Alexandra find in Chase the person to trust and believe in? Can this happen, since their positions in society are so different? Will Chase also be able to let go of his own fears and believe in happiness with her?
I liked this novel, as I expected to. Although it has been said more than once by many readers that this author's work isn't accurate historical at all, it doesn't mean it's not fun and appealing to read. I think it's good escapism and makes for an easy time reading something we know will end well. To be fair, however, I can't help but thinking why couldn't this be contemporary, only a few changes and it would still be a wonderful romance and with less room for criticism, I suppose...
The story is, as always, a game between what the characters do and how they act and the depth of their personalities and good features, which we unravel as the plot advances. Chase and Alex begin as apparent simple characters, who live their lives and have their struggles - of different levels - but as the situations they face keep coming, we discover they aren't as superficial or as easy to read as one might expect. I do think the author does this very well, this peeling of layers as things go by.
Alexandra is part of the group we've met in the previous story and she dreams of owning her own cottage where she can look at the stars and remember the good times with her father, a sea captain. She can't stand the thought of being in a boat or ship, though, for that reminds her of the trauma of losing her father during a storm. In order to accomplish her dream she must work, but after declining the offer to be a governess to the girls Chase is responsible for, something happens and she changes her mind, meaning she will be able to spend more time with him.
In a believable world, this would not have been done as easily and they, in opposed sides of society's class, would not have that much chance to spend time together, but of course that is exactly what happens and they fall in love. I think the conflicts between them were made a bit too simple and I do wish there was some more care in how they interact, so easily in the reach of secondary characters who could expose what was happening... I know this is meant to be as light as it is, but I still worry and can't help thinking that the tone isn't always up to what is being described.
Chase is, I'm sorry to say, a forgettable hero for me. I liked him and the worries he faced, the guilt over something he believes was his responsibility making him someone much more caring than what he lets others perceive. I liked he fell in love despite his decisions in the beginning and there were plenty of scenes where his presence was definitely a plus, but I don't think he was one of those larger than life characters one can't ignore either.
The romance was pretty much standard for the author, cute and with some easily overcome conflicts, where love and the unexpected take more attention than practicality. I liked Alexandra and Chase together but the process of how they fell in love didn't dazzle me as much as it happened with couples from other books by the author. I can't tell if it felt there wasn't enough chemistry or their personalities just didn't mesh as obviously as others did... the overall feeling for me is along the lines of average, not amazing.