Friday, July 22, 2011

The Governess And The Sheikh

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+


Kate said...

♫ Getting to know you!...Getting to know all about you! ♫

Sorry...really couldn't resist. Great review!

Dr J said...

You know, Wendy, I'm with you. I think the romance should take center stage, but it is fleshing out the secondary characters that give depth to the story and a greater understanding of the dynamic in which the relationship had to develop. And too, there is a lot to be said for reading those books that are indeed "pleasant diversions" and entertain in a kind and quiet way. We would all be totally exhausted if every book we read lit us up emotionally and intellectually like firecrackers. Very, very nice review!

Karenmc said...

Linah sounds like the perfect plot moppet, a term introduced by redheadedgirl, who does guest reviews at SBTB.

Wendy said...

Kate: LOL! Actually yeah, I was having those moments while reading this one - especially in the early chapters ;)

Dr. J: "More kid please" seems like a weird thing to harp on, especially when SO many other romance readers would probably be like, "I'm so glad the kid didn't overpower the story!" LOL

Karenmc: To a certain extent she was - although I tend to think of "plot moppets" as more annoying and manipulative (for some reason, the way I'm wired perhaps?). And Linah doesn't fit that mold (thank goodness!). Mostly she's just....well, rather thinly drawn. Which, while I wasn't wild about, at least she wasn't one of those matchmaking tots that seem to overpopulate Romance Novel Land.

Jeff Rivera said...

Reading the in-depth role of each character is mesmerizing. It could definitely divert ones frustrations.

nath said...

Nice review, Wendy :) and it's good if you're going to continue reading this author :) The next one might work out better :)

Kristie (J) said...

You don't really make it clear - is this a contemporary or a historical. Either way :-( I don't think this is up my alley at all. I just can't get into Sheikh books.

Wendy said...

Kristie: It's a historical. The first book in this series worked a lot better for me. I put it under my "Recommended Reads" page, which you can find on the side bar :)

Nath: Yeah, by no means did I dislike this book. It just fell a little flat in some areas. And this author has worked far more than she's missed for me. So that's always happy news!

Jeff: Yeah, I just needed a bit more oomph to the characters in some instances.....

Marguerite Kaye said...

Children and romances - difficult subject, especially since I'm firmly in the 'keep them offstatge' camp when reading them myself.

I think you're spot on with Linah though Wendy, she is thinly drawn - not because she's a plot device, but because I was over-careful about letting her get in the way of Jamil and Cassie. In retrospect that was a mistake, especially since in my mind, she had quite a lot of character, and as you point out, she's quite central to Jamil's sorting himself out.

Oh well, must do better next time I introduce a wean (Scots for moppet). Thank you for the review.


Wendy said...

Marguerite: I am so going to have to use "wean" in a review sometime.

Children characters are so hard to approach in romances. Here I wanted more Linah - but I'm sure there are hordes of other readers out there who will feel the exact opposite way I did. "Yeah, the kid doesn't muck up the works!" LOL