Book Review, Forbidden, Historical, NetGalley, Romance, Series, St. Martin's Press

When a Duke Loves a Governess (Unlikely Duchesses #3) by Olivia Drake


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?


An unconventional governess, an eccentric duke, and an unruly four-year-old charge. It’s a delightful Cinderella story with a twist.

Miss Tessa James wants to be a hatmaker and Guy Whitby, the seventh Duke of Carlin, is going to help her get her dream. He just doesn’t know it yet. Tessa lost her mother when she was six, ran away from an unsavory orphanage at the age of fourteen, and quit her job in a millinery shop for a tyrant who has no sense of style when it comes to women’s hats. But she has a plan. A plan to apply for a governess job for a duke’s wild-child so she can find the man who fathered her and get a loan for her own millinery shop. However, there are a few challenges with her plan. She is a baseborn commoner who has to convince the duke she is a governess. She is falling for her employer and his precocious daughter. And someone is attempting to murder the duke. Apparently, real life is no fairytale.

Guy Whitby, a botanist who has travelled the world, did not want the dukedom, but due to unfortunate demises of the heirs before him, he is now one of the richest men in England with an unmanageable child who hates him and a governess with a questionable background. When the young Tessa arrives at his door, he comes close to sending her away until she proves that her firm, but gentle ways with his daughter, Sophy, is working very well as she gradually repairs the tentative father/daughter rift created during his travels abroad. Once Tessa confesses her true intentions to find her father, Guy is angry about Tessa’s ruse, but sympathizes with her predicament and slowly falls for her beauty, spunk, and clever audacity to dupe a duke.  However, something is amiss when his study is ransacked and an attempt on his life is made. Rumor has it the Curse of Carlin has made it to his door.

Tessa and Guy are two atypical nonconformists in a society that puts status before everything. Tessa refuses to stop looking for her father and is hell-bent on owning her own millinery shop even when her circumstances change for the better. And Guy loves being a botanist and prefers staying home to write his book rather than going to balls and social gatherings. These two are definitely made for each other with their unshakeable resolve, their love for Sophy, and their great passion for each other. 

In addition to the romance, there are some surprising secrets and revenge plots going on that makes for a stimulating read. As well as another romantic backstory that I suspect will appear in another book in the series.

As for supporting characters, my favorite is Guy’s daughter, Sophy who is a little imp badly in need of a steady life with the people she loves and it is a pleasure to see her start to interact with her father due to Tessa’s careful and kind maneuvering. 

Overall, this is an entertaining standalone book in the series that includes subterfuge, intrigue, and a forbidden romance.

Thank you to Ms. Drake for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.


When a Duke Loves a Governess

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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.

Follow Olivia on her website and Twitter.