This one of those books in which the romance and characters are so good you almost don't notice how ridiculous the plot actually is. We first met Sinclair McBride, brother to Ainsley from The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, in The Perfect Gift. He's shown up once or twice since, having been established as a widower of two small children, Andrew and Caitriona.
Roberta "Bertie" Frasier is a Cockney pickpocket with a violent, criminal father and similarly suited beau. She's directed to rob Sinclair after he puts someone in jail that her father and beau like. Sinclair catches her but lets her go because of her effervescent charm. Hijinks ensure, Bertie ends up as governess to the kids, and there you go.
Bertie is a lot of fun, but she seems a bit...younger than she's supposed to be. She's established as twenty-six, and she's an East End girl, so I would have imagined that she'd be a bit more...I don't know exactly. I think we're given hints that her mother was a bit more put together and lady-like, but her past is never developed enough for me. Sinclair is a good match for her, and you can actually feel him being charmed by Bertie's antics against his will.
The romance is nice, the characters are fine, and as always--there's not much plot here. Most of the novels in this series haven't had a central narrative--it's been more about how the characters handle the things that come their way, which is fine. But what plot there is more convoluted than normal and there are moments when you just...stare and think there's no way you just read what you just read.
Still, it's actually pretty good and probably the best book in the series since the original Mackenzie brothers quartet.
When I say the plot doesn't make a lot of sense, I mean that I don't really buy one of the major subplots. Sinclair is worried that his late wife's brother is going to sue and gain custody of their children. Andrew and Cat are a bit misbehaved and have chased off many governesses. Bertie tries to make herself the perfect governess so she can't be used against Sinclair, but that part of the subplot is like...not even a question.
My problem with this is I never for one second think that Sinclair is going to lose his kids. His wife has been dead for years. He is a respected member of the bar, his children are well-cared for, and he's got connections and money. There is literally no judge on this earth, even in Victorian England, who is going to take the kids from Sinclair. This is a non-starter out of the gate.
There's also a weird thread line of someone sending Sinclair threatening letters about his former wife, and the reason this plot annoys me is that it's pretty much an excuse to bring Ian in. Ian Mackenzie shows up in books that he does not belong in because Jennifer Ashley thinks we're all as charmed by him as she is. I'm not. He's great in his book. I like him in some of the other books. Ian and Beth are my favorite couple, no arguments.
But Ian is basically trotted out as a tool in this book -- he scans the letters, gives them information. And then he gives Bertie some cryptic stuff about staying with Sinclair and the kids. I'm just...I think it annoys me more because I've done this reread, so I've read all eight stories in about a week, and every time Ian and Daniel show up WHERE THEY DO NOT BELONG, I'm gnashing my teeth and skimming until they're gone. So...yeah. There's that.
Also, the background about Sinclair's wife turns out to be crazy pants and makes no sense, so whatever. Bertie's lovely, Sinclair is great. As long as you don't think too hard about the plot, you'll be happy.
Rules for a Proper Governess (MacKenzies & McBrides, #7)
Overall Response This one of those books in which the romance and characters are so good you almost don't notice how ridiculous the plot actually is. We first met Sinclair McBride, brother to ...