Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Showcase When a Duke Loves a Governess by Olivia Drake - Unlikely Duchesses #3

Today I'm showcasing #3 in Olivia Drakes, Unlikely Duchesses, When a Duke Loves a Governess stop by and see what brings them together.

ISBN-13:  9781250174499
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 7-27-2021
Length: 320pp
Unlikely Duchesses #3
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound



A stunning new Regency from beloved author Olivia Drake, When a Duke Loves a Governess...!

Tessa James has worked and planned tirelessly to open her own millinery shop. All she needs now is a loan from the lord who sired and abandoned her. The only problem is, she doesn’t even know his name. What’s a woman to do to find him but enter the aristocratic world by becoming a governess?

Guy Whitby, the new Duke of Carlin, has returned to London after years abroad to discover that his young daughter Sophy has become a wild-child known for scaring away every governess who's crossed his doorstep. When Tessa James applies for the job, he hires her in desperation despite his misgivings that she’s too bold and beautiful–and that she might be fibbing about her qualifications.

Their blooming attraction leads them on a completely unexpected path to love that neither wants to deny. But when an old enemy threatens Guy's family, their forbidden romance goes up in flames. Can they still learn to love and trust each other as forces try to tear them apart?

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Wait until you hear the news,” Lady Farnsworth said to a friend who had just entered the millinery shop. “The Duke of Carlin has lost yet another governess.”

Mrs. Ludington gasped. “Why, this one cannot have been in his employ beyond a week.”

“Four days. My cousin lives near His Grace in Grosvenor Square, you know. This very morning, her maid spied the woman departing Carlin House with portmanteau in hand.”

Tessa James shamelessly eavesdropped from behind the counter. A threaded needle gripped between her forefinger and thumb, she craned her neck to peer past an arrangement of hats. Both ladies were regular patrons of the shop. As they chatted, Lady Farnsworth preened at her aging reflection in the mirror, while Mrs. Ludington tried on a rust-colored toque over her salt-and-pepper curls.

Tessa knew the women only by sight since Madame Blanchet trusted no one but herself to wait on the aristocratic customers. The shopkeeper hovered near the ladies, making suggestions and offering oily praise. Amid the colorful bonnets on display, Madame Blanchet in her severe black gown resembled a raven skulking in a garden of spring flowers.

“Zis chapeau is très magnifique,” she said, encouraging Lady Farnsworth to try on another bonnet.

Tessa curbed the urge to step out from behind the counter and direct the woman to a more flattering style, since the mass of yellow-dyed ostrich feathers made her pudgy features appear sallow. If it were her shop, she would use tact and diplomacy to ensure that every lady walked out looking her very best.

But she was not the proprietor. She lacked the means to set up an establishment of her own. At least as of yet.

A few minutes ago, she’d been called out here to do a minor alteration. It was a welcome escape from the cramped workroom where she and two other employees labored from dawn until dusk. Each hat required hours of toil from start to finish: the shaping of the buckram base, the assembling with wire and crinoline tape, the attachment of the lining, and the addition of trims.

Over the past eight years, Tessa had mastered all the skills of the trade. She had filled a notebook with her own sketches, too, although being allowed to actually make those hats was another matter. Madame preferred ornate monstrosities festooned with ribbons and lace, feathers and birds, silk flowers and papier-mâché fruit. Consequently, the shop was frequented by elderly ladies who had grown up in an era of elaborate powdered wigs.

But times had changed. The current fashion trended toward the elegance of simplicity—a taste shared by Tessa. A few days ago, she finally had been allowed to create one bonnet of her design. How proud she’d been to put it on display yesterday. And how dismayed to learn that—

A prickling sense of being observed alerted her to Madame Blanchet’s sharp black eyes glaring from across the shop. Her toadying way with the patrons didn’t extend to the staff. Tessa felt sure that Wellington himself could be no stricter a general than Madame.

Hastening to appear industrious, she poked the needle into the stiff interfacing of the bonnet. As much as she’d love to give the woman a piece of her mind, Tessa could ill afford to lose her position. It paid little enough as it was. Every farthing she could scrimp went into the tin box kept hidden beneath a loose floorboard in her tiny flat. Every penny put her one step closer to achieving the dream of one day being a shop owner herself.

For now, she must grit her teeth and oblige her employer by altering this bonnet, the very one Tessa herself had designed. It had a wide chip-straw brim with a gentle pouf of sky-blue satin at the crown. The matching ribbon that crisscrossed the straw was anchored in place by a delicate satin rosette. She had intended the stylish confection to frame the features of some lovely young lady.

Instead, Lady Farnsworth with her multiple chins had cooed over the hat. The woman then had insisted on ruining its elegance with the addition of three huge bunches of pink rosebuds, and Madame had fawningly acquiesced. In one fell swoop, the bonnet had gone from being a work of art to just another overdone atrocity. Tessa’s only consolation was being able to listen to the conversation as she halfheartedly stitched the silk flowers into place.

“Carlin must be frightening away his governesses,” Mrs. Ludington was saying. “Surely a man cannot spend so many years sailing around the world to remote lands without forgetting the finer points of proper behavior. Heaven only knows what peculiar customs he might have acquired.”

“Nonsense, the duke was raised a gentleman even if he never expected to assume the title.” Lady Farnsworth tried on another hat, this one of burgundy velvet adorned with a stuffed quail and faux autumn leaves. “As a widower, he is London’s most eligible bachelor. And you cannot deny he cut quite a dash at the Sedgwicks’ ball the other night by dancing with several of the young ladies.”

“But there has to be a reason for all the departures.” Mrs. Ludington lowered her voice to a scandalized whisper. “Do you suppose he is making improper advances toward the governesses?”

“When all of them have been bran-faced spinsters? Nay, I daresay it has to do with his daughter running untamed during Carlin’s absence. Rumor has it that Lady Sophy terrorizes the ducal household. Her maternal grandparents raised her, and everyone knows what rattlepates the Norwoods are.”

“Well, the girl ought to have learned suitable behavior by now. If she is still spoiled at four years, it must be nipped in the bud at once.”

“Carlin is in need of a wife to take matters in hand,” Lady Farnsworth said in agreement. “My granddaughter will be making her bows in the spring, and it would be quite a plum for her to acquire a duchess’s tiara.”

“Let us hope that Lady Sophy’s manners improve in the interim.” Mrs. Ludington examined a gold-fringed purple turban in the sunlight from the window. “The naughty child wants discipline, and swiftly. His Grace must seek a sterner character when he engages another governess.”

Tessa’s fingers stilled in the act of tying off a thread. The sudden jolt of her heart caught her by surprise. The idea that leaped into her mind was utterly daft. She would have to be mad even to consider such a notion. Yet the words sizzled through her like a bolt of lightning.

Another governess.

The Duke of Carlin had been left in the lurch. He needed someone on short notice who could handle his disobedient daughter. Perhaps that someone could be Tessa herself.

Living in a ducal household would place her at the center of the aristocratic world. She’d be on a swifter path to acquiring the funds she needed to open her own shop. Partly due to the increase in salary, but also because she finally might find her father.

The man whose name had always been a mystery to her.

She touched the dainty oval shape beneath her bodice. The high-necked gown of gray kerseymere hid the gold pendant that was her most precious possession. In the sixteen years since her dying mama had placed it around Tessa’s neck, never once had she removed it. Her fingers traced the small image engraved on the piece. The coat of arms belonged to a noble family—her father’s family.

But who was he? Since most of her waking hours were spent here at work, she’d had little opportunity to discover the answer. Tessa didn’t dare ask anyone, either. If she were to show it to any of the Quality who patronized the shop, she might be accused of stealing the pendant.

As a governess, though, she could keep her eyes peeled for the coat of arms. Somewhere she might glimpse it on a carriage door or carved into the lintel stone of a house. Once she matched it to a name, she could confront her sire and convince him to advance her a loan.

Copyright © 2021 by Barbara Dawson Smith.

About the author:
Olivia Drake is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Texas. Her novels have won critical acclaim and numerous industry awards, including the prestigious RITA. Olivia is the author of Scandal of the Year, Never Trust a Rogue, and If the Slipper Fits among others.


  1. I've not read Olivia Drake before, but I do like governess romances. :)

  2. That sounds like a fun romance. I don't normally read historicals these days but sometimes I do.

  3. Haven't heard of this author, but a Duke and a governess - perfect!