The Governess of Highland Hall, by Carrie Turansky, was published in 2013 by Multnomah.
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey. Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from financial ruin. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith. While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?
Books like this are my “guilty pleasure” of sorts. Christian historical romance is a genre I read solely for enjoyment and thus I don’t expect much out of them because I don’t need much to enjoy it. The setting is enough to attract me. But most of the time, even though I don’t expect much out of the books, I am still disappointed when worn-out tropes and transparent plots are used again and again. Sadly, The Governess of Highland Hall is no exception.
Governess is a fine romp through an “upstairs downstairs” type story, complete with “upstairs downstairs” romance. But it’s nothing more than a romp. There’s virtually no depth to the story at all, and all the interesting characters were the secondary (possibly tertiary) ones. The protagonist, Julia, was too perfect and boring; she always had the right advice for the right moment and the right response to any given scenario. William was a wet dish rag of a character and did not evoke at all the Mr. Darcy type that Turansky was trying to channel.
The plot was predictable, to the point where at a certain part I actually groaned and put the book down because I knew exactly what was going to happen from there on out. And I was right. Really, reading the back of the book (even with its inaccuracies—William’s children are not “ill-mannered” and I wouldn’t really call Julia’s prayer life “vibrant,” whatever that means) will let you know exactly what is going to happen. I expect predictability when I read these sorts of books, but I’m still disappointed when they fail to exceed my expectations.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Genre: Christian, Historical Fiction
“What is it, William? What’s wrong?”
He motioned toward the papers on his desk. “I never expected running the estate would be this difficult.”
She placed her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully. Just give yourself time to learn what’s needed.”
“But that’s the problem. I only have until March—at the latest—to straighten out the financial situation and pay the death duties. And then there are the issues with the tenant farmers.
The Governess of Highland Hall is an indulgent frolic through a historical romance, but it doesn’t go beyond that. The protagonists are boring and in Julia’s case, so perfect as to be annoying, and the plot is so predictable that it cuts out all the excitement and enjoyment of the read. I do love these types of books, but I do so wish that they were better.
You can buy this here: The Governess of Highland Hall