If you're in the U.S., then tis the season to head back to school. In honor of this fall tradition, we're bringing you a list of excellent romances all featuring the Governess Trope! We have a list of books we've read and others that we haven't but were too on point not to share. No spoilers today, just a great opportunity to add a few titles to that growing TBR pile.
To purchase any of the books you've heard on today's episode AND support the show, click on any of the book titles below.
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 05:32: Intro
05:32 - 24:09: Governess Romances (1-8)
24:09 - 27:06: Parlour
27:06 - 49:25: Governess Romances (9-17)
What qualifies as a “Governess Romance” for our purposes?
One of the MCs is a teacher or some sort. A Governess, a Professor, a lecturer, and works for or teaches the other MC. There is a clear unbalance of power between their roles, which is (or is close to) employer and employee.
And of course, if you think we missed a title that listeners would love - let us know! Our email is email@example.com.
1. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (We have a whole episode on this book and why it’s a perfect 10)
She will not give up…
Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in…
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
2. The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson
The accidental governess.
After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.
The infamous rake.
Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.
3. How the Marquess was Won by Julie Anne Long*
The Scandal Sheets call him Lord Ice.
Ruthless, cold, precise, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, tolerates only the finest—in clothes, in horseflesh, in mistresses. And now he’s found the perfect bride, the one whose dowry will restore his family’s shattered legacy and bring him peace at last: the exquisite heiress Lisbeth Redmond.
She’s about to play with fire...
But one unforgettable encounter with Lisbeth’s paid companion, Phoebe Vale, and the Marquess is undone. This quiet girl with the wicked smile and a wit to match is the first person to see through the icy facade to the fiery man beneath. But their irresistible attraction is a torment as sweet as it is dangerous, for surrendering to their desire could mean losing everything else they ever wanted.
4. Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
He's everything she wants to avoid.
For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.
She's not at all what she seems.
Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires . . .
5. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is...
But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge—in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.
Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger...
But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…
6. The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne
Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?
They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent... in the game of love.
Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart... without surrendering his own?
7. Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley
To Kiss A Thief...
Scottish barrister Sinclair McBride can face the most sinister criminals in London - but the widower’s two unruly children are a different matter. Little Caitlin and Andrew go through a governess a week, sending the ladies fleeing in tears.
Roberta “Bertie” Frasier enters Sinclair’s life by stealing his watch - and then stealing a kiss. Intrigued by the handsome highlander, Bertie winds up saving his children from a dangerous situation and returns them to their father. Impressed with how they listen to her, Sinclair asks the lively beauty to be their governess, never guessing that the unconventional lady will teach him a lesson or two in love.
8. Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens
When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire town by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England′s most eligible bachelor, Devil′s infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.
But Honoria wasn′t about to bend society′s demands and marry a man "just" because they′d been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she′d go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?
9. Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
All of Eugenia Snowe’s problems start when Edward Reeve, an arrogant bastard son of an earl, bursts into her registry office. He wants a governess and he wants her. She gives him the governess he demands, but she refuses to give herself.
No question that Eugenia enjoys crossing wits with the brilliant inventor, but she will never tarnish her reputation with an affaire, particularly with a man who doesn’t realize she’s a lady!
She holds her ground…until he kidnaps her.
Ward will stop at nothing to convince Eugenia that they’re meant to be together. He promises her heaven.
She gives him seven minutes.
10. The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh (Mixed reviews but the good reviews tell of a very complex, tragic backstory with some major craziness, so it’s included)
He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive.
To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite—and the threat of scandal hovers over them—one question remains: will she be mistress or wife?
11. Deception by Amanda Quick (role reversal)
From a cozy cottage in rustic Dorset to a magnificent mansion steeped in secrets comes a dazzling tale of lost pirate gold and legendary love... Once Olympia Wingfield had been free to devote all her time to her true passion: the study of ancient legends and long-lost treasure.
But now, with three hellion nephews to raise, the absentminded beauty has very little time for research. Which makes it seem all the more serendipitous when a handsome stranger strides into Olympia's library unannounced and proceeds to set her world to rights. Tall and dark, with long, windswept black hair, Jared Ryder, Viscount Chillhurst, is the embodiment of Olympia's most exotic dreams ... a daring pirate, masquerading in teacher's garb, whose plundering kisses and traveler's tales quickly win her heart.
Yet all too soon innocent Olympia will discover that the enigmatic and wickedly sensual Chillhurst is no lowly tutor, but a future earl with a wealth of secrets-—the kind that will lead them both on a perilous quest for hidden fortune and a love worth more than gold.
12. Rules of Engagement by Christina Dodd (She has a whole Governess Brides series but some of them are on the cringe side)
The Rules of Engagement
Choose a bride from this year's debutantes. Decide on a proper settlement. Send an announcement to The Times. Inform the bride of her good fortune.
Rules of Respectability
Devon Mathewes, earl of Kerrich, has a plan that is sure to restore him to the Queen's favor.First, he must hire a sensible, unattractive governess. Next, he will see to adopting a properly grateful orphan, which will surely lend him a patina of respectability. Finally, he must obtain a guarantee that his orphan and the governess will better his character and reputation without unduly disturbing his life--love life or otherwise.
Rules of Passion
As a condition of accepting the governess position, Miss Pamela Lockhart of the Distinguished Academy of Governesses has a few rules of her own. Devon at all times must behave with propriety, an unlikely accomplishment that would delight the ton and completely astonish Pamela herself. She must be allowed to choose a suitable orphan at her own discretion. Most important, Devon must vow to neverever delve into Pamela's background, or her appearance, lest he discover the truth behind the deepest secrets of her heart. But of course, all rules are made to be broken . . .
13. Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn
Seven years ago she broke his heart...
When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in hedgerow maze, he can't believe his eyes. The girl who'd torn him in two, who let him plan on elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm's reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist...
Seven years ago he left her all but ruined...
Victoria's father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar's daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn't particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort—his mistress—she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honor, even for him.
But Robert won't take no for an answer, and he vows to make her his, through any means possible. Can these star-crossed lovers learn to trust again? And is love really sweeter the second time around?
14. Let Sleeping Rogues Lie by Sabrina Jeffries
From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes the fourth book in her dazzling and sensual School for Heiresses series — the story of a charmingly handsome rake who challenges everything a young teacher thinks she knows about passion and desire.
"Don't let yourself be fooled, Madeline:
once a rake, always a rake."
— Mrs. Charlotte Harris, headmistress
When Madeline Prescott took a teaching position at Mrs. Harris's School for Young Ladies, it was to help restore her father's reputation. Instead, she's in danger of ruining her own. The devilishly handsome Anthony Dalton, Viscount Norcourt, has agreed to provide "rake lessons" to Mrs. Harris's pupils so they can learn how to avoid unscrupulous gentlemen, and Madeline is to oversee his classes. She has always believed that attraction is a scientific matter, easily classified and controlled — until she's swept into the passionate desire that fiercely burns between her and Anthony. Nothing could be more illogical than risking everything for a dalliance with a rake — even one who's trying to behave himself. Yet nothing could be more tempting....
15. Too Wilde To Wed by Eloisa James
No one is more surprised than Lord North when he returns from war to find his ex-fiancee in his ancestral home...working as a governess...
The handsome, rakish heir to a dukedom, Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde—known to his friends as North—left England two years ago, after being jilted by Miss Diana Belgrave. He returns from war to find that he’s notorious: polite society has ruled him “too wild to wed.”
Diana never meant to tarnish North’s reputation, or his heart, but in her rush to save a helpless child, there was no time to consider the consequences of working as a governess in Lindow Castle. Now everyone has drawn the worst conclusions about the child’s father, and Diana is left with bittersweet regret.
When North makes it clear that he still wants her for his own, scandal or no, Diana has to fight to keep from losing her heart to the man whom she still has no intention of marrying.
Yet North is returning a hardened warrior—and this is one battle he’s determined to win.
He wants Diana, and he’ll risk everything to call her his own.
16. The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie is “always terrific,”* and now the award-winning author delivers a brand-new series about four young women on the verge of destitution—until a daring act changes their fortune and transforms each of them into a glowing bride…
Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice's predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice's eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!
It's the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household…
A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves...
17. What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell
Wanted: Governess for duke's unruly children
Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.
Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke
Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won't be quite so easy to control. And there's something else she can't seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.
Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny
As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she's the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?