Review of “The Governess of Penwythe Hall” (The Cornwall Novels #1) by Sarah E. Ladd

Ladd, Sarah E. The Governess of Penwythe Hall. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0785223160 | 352 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

3 stars

I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have very mixed feelings on The Governess of Penwythe Hall. On the one hand, I feel like there is a lot of potential here, some of which it lives up to…and some of which it does not.

And most of the potential that lives up to what I anticipated is in the character development, particularly Jac’s. While his relationships with both Delia and the children do feel at times very much in the vein of the standard governess trope, I feel like Ladd makes it enough of her own with the slight changes to the narrative. I like that Jac is facing financial issues that also impact the children’s future, and he actually finds a creative solution to them that I don’t think I’ve seen before, and, even if the bonding between him and his nephews and nieces, along with Delia becoming necessary in a way that goes beyond the professional, does run a little to the cliche, it is still rather heartwarming.

One thing I didn’t feel properly was fleshed out was Delia and her past, not to mention that the turn of events all felt more convenient for the sake of plot than anything else. I did like the tender moments she has with her own family, but I think the prologue built up some big conflict, and the stakes were further raised later in the book, but it ended up feeling anticlimactic. And the fact that of course it involved smuggling was a bit annoying, especially when it was another thing that didn’t feel like it had a lot of resonance. While I know it’s historically accurate with this location, it just didn’t have the same resonance that she imbued in some of her prior books, like her previous standalone, about the Luddite riots.

Given that this is the first in a planned series, I do hope that the next book is better and follows in the vein of her other series in varying the concepts she chooses to focus on. That being said, I do feel like this book could work for some people, especially those who are looking for a light, sweet historical romance that still has good character development.

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