Marguerite Kaye continues on with Arabian sheikh's with her second full-length release, The Governess And The Sheikh. This book is connected to last month's release, Innocent In The Sheikh's Harem through the heroines, who are sisters. Like her older sister, Celia, Cassandra will also be wed off to further her diplomat father's influence. However, unlike Celia, Cassie is more of a romantic, not nearly as diplomatic, and is prone to speaking before thinking. And she's going to be a governess to a sheikh's daughter? Yeah, this should be interesting....
Lady Cassandra Armstrong is the second daughter of a British diplomat and the "pretty" one. In fact, Cassie is a real beauty. She somehow manages to convince her father to let her choose her own husband, and she ends up choosing badly. After she's jilted, she convinces Daddy to let her visit her older sister, now married to a sheikh, in Arabia. Celia cannot stand to see the normally vibrant Cassie in such a state, so she proposes she become the governess for a neighboring sheikh, Prince Jamil al-Nazarri. A widower, Jamil has an unruly eight-year-old daughter who has chased away more than one governess. Cassie, loathe to go back to England and Daddy's snooty new wife (blah!), agrees to the challenge.
Jamil's plan to hire a proper English lady to be his daughter's governess is met with resistance among his advisers, who are all about "tradition." However, those traditions have failed to bring his daughter to heel, so he's willing to buck convention. He's hoping for a unattractive spinster, and instead he gets Cassie. Uh oh. Temptation from an Englishwoman is the last thing he needs, especially with his advisers pushing him towards remarrying. But he's willing to give Cassie a shot, even if he thinks her theory on why his daughter is a hoyden (she's desperate for his attention) is patently absurd.
Let's start with the good - namely the hero and heroine. Jamil is your prototypical Alpha hero without any of those nasty over-the-top asshole traits. He's a sheikh. He's used to his word being law and gospel. He speaks, people listen, and nobody disobeys. However, he does listen to what Cassie has to say, even if he thinks she's full of it. There's no forced seduction nonsense. He also admits his mistakes when he finally sees the error of his ways. It does take him a long time to admit his true feelings for Cassie, but this is a guy who essentially was raised to believe that showing emotion = major sign of weakness. It's easy to cut him some slack even when, as the 21st century reader, I think he's being a colossally clueless idiot.
Cassie is beautiful, charming, sweet, and isn't afraid to speak her mind. I liked that when she did get feisty, and did argue with Jamil, that she was always reasoned. She never got overly emotional. She didn't stamp her feet and pout like an insolent brat. I also liked that she never backed down from a challenge, and that even though she claimed that she was done with love, she didn't close herself off to it.
What didn't work so well for me in this story was the writing style. A little too much telling over showing creeps in on a fairly regular basis, and this kept me at arms length from the developing romance. However this is one of those instances where it gets better during the second half, and things really begin to heat up. By then I was invested in the saga of When Will Jamil Stop Being An Idiot And Realize He's In Love.
I know this will probably sound really odd to a lot of romance readers, but the one aspect of this story that really disappointed me was Jamil's daughter, Linah. I know most readers tend to complain when child characters overpower the romance, but here? I wanted a lot more Linah; to have her more fully fleshed out. She never elevates herself above being a vessel, or a convenient plot device. In fact, it takes a while for her to even have some dialogue after Cassie arrives in her orbit. Since a big chunk of the conflict centers around Jamil's aloofness towards emotion, his loveless and cold childhood, and how that is effecting his relationship with his daughter? Yeah, a more fully realized Linah would have been a major strength. As it is, she seemed like an afterthought. A way to throw hero and heroine together, and nothing more.
However, these aspects aside, I did enjoy this story. Not as much as the first book, but it was a pleasant diversion and I still read it in one sitting. Hey, that's not all bad folks - especially coming from a slow reader. It didn't light my world on fire, but it kept me entertained, and it keeps the author on my radar.
Final Grade = C+