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My TBR queue has been in utter disarray for far too long, and I’m taking steps to remedy it. As I prepared for the release of Tessa Dare’s newest book, I realized that I never read the second book in the series. Luckily, I already owned it- and even luckier, I had the Audible edition as well. So, I popped on my headphones, and listened to the book while cleaning my middle schooler’s room while she’s away at camp.

But enough about me.

The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series of Regency-era historical romance novels. As the title suggests, it features the governess trope, which is one of my absolute favorites.

Chase Reynaud is not a duke, although he is next in line for a ducal title. He has, however, already inherited the guardianship of two young girls- and all the responsibility that goes along with that.

Needless to say, this has put a damper on his party boy lifestyle, and he intends to enroll the sisters in a boarding school for the Michaelmas term. Until then, he needs a governess to wrangle the girls, but they have already driven over a dozen governesses away.

Enter Alexandra Mountbatten, who makes a rather humble living setting clocks in the grand houses of London. She ends up with the governess position, thanks to a combination of mistaken identity and necessity after the loss of her chronometer.

Alex accepts the position because she knows it’s only temporary, and because Chase has offered an obscene salary. She didn’t consider that the girls might be utterly charming or that there might be more to Chase than his rakish demeanor.

The governess trope can be difficult to do correctly nowadays because of the inherent inequalities in the pairing. Can consent be freely given if it’s contingent on continued employment? Fortunately, TGG takes steps to avoid anything problematic; Alex is an equal participant, and Chase ensures there’s active consent. The result is amazing chemistry, built upon mutual attraction and understanding.

Like all of Dare’s books, TGG is utterly hilarious. The banter between Alex and Chase is top notch, but the young wards are the ones who really steal the show. Their little doll succumbs to a different disease every day, and there’s a daily funeral, followed by a miraculous resurrection the next morning.

I would recommend The Governess Game. This book functions well as a standalone, but I would suggest reading The Duchess Deal first in order to better appreciate the cameo appearances from TDD characters. While the tone of the book is light and fun, the moments of angst feel genuine and not manufactured for dramatic effect. I’m looking forward to reading more of Dare’s book in the future!

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