Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: The Governess of Highland Hall

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky
Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

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Amazon Summary:
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 Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the 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 and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?
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My Thoughts:

When I started this book, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I've read a lot of historical romance before, but it's been a while.  I noticed a few things: first of all, this book reminds me of several other classics actually written during the time this is set in.  That may seem like a bad thing - oh, the book is just like this one or that one - but actually, it turns out to be a great thing.  This book hearkens back and alludes to many stories I love without taking on that story and becoming a copycat.  Throughout the book, I saw pieces that reminded me of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and North and South - all favorites of mine.

At the beginning of the book, I also noticed something that concerned me.  There's several POV shifts.  We see Julia, William, William's sister, the housekeeper, the head gardener, and one of the maids at different points.  I was afraid this would become unsettling or confusing or clutter the book - at the beginning, that's what it starts to do.  But as the story progresses, the POV shifts are sparse enough not to feel jumpy and are used for maximum effect to move the story along and grab at the reader's heart.

Honestly, after finishing this book, I have only one thing I didn't like: I wished there was more of it!  There were a couple of points where the story skimmed over an afternoon or a week and I wished I could read through and live that time with the characters.  Basically, I wanted to stay in the book longer!

The characters were so realistic and amazing.  The plot was perfect, and while it was a bit predictable - is any romance not? - there were still enough surprises to keep the story fresh and alive.  The time period really came to life in front of me; this author certainly did her research.  The Governess of Highland Hall is a keeper!  Five stars.

I received this book for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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