During the summer of 1900 Charlotte Hale, a native Newporter and secretary for the Rhode Island Reporter, accepts an undercover assignment as temporary governess to Daniel Wilmont’s children in order to secretly gather evidence against him. As he helps her rediscover God, Charlotte learns that Daniel is an honorable man.
They unexpectedly fall in love despite their different backgrounds and social positions. Charlotte soon realizes she must defend Daniel against the forces set against him-a willful student with a romantic crush and the newspaper editor determined to destroy his reputation.
This is the second book in Cara Lynn James’ Ladies of Summerhill series and follows her debut novel Love on a Dime. Personally, I enjoyed the first novel more than Love on Assignment. This book follows the Jane Eyre template of young, handsome, rich widower falling in love with his poor governess and having to overcome class barriers. The only spin from the Bronte archetype is that Charlotte is not a real governess. Beyond that, the characters felt pigeonholed and flat.
Daniel comes across as a one-dimensional character that is a workaholic and obnoxiously pious. Don’t get me wrong-I actually enjoyed the rich spiritual elements of this story related to Charlotte’s journey of faith; but, at times the narrative came across as very preachy and Daniel’s constant sermonizing were the focal point of every scene. His pious and righteous character was so overemphasized at times that even his faults played out unrealistically as virtues.
I found the romantic elements to be be weak and unimaginative. Most of the interactions between the main characters were brief or accompanied by Daniel’s children. I never got the sense that these characters knew enough about each other (aside from their spiritual lives) to truly build the foundation for a marriage, let alone a courtship. The plot surrounding Charlotte’s secret could have been resolved much more quickly. There were too many scenes of her intending to tell Daniel the truth but him dismissing her or Charlotte losing her nerve. The story dragged, particularly in the middle, and I found myself unconsciously skimming chunks of pages.
How much you enjoy this book will depend on your expectations going in. If you are expecting a predominantly romantic historical novel, then you may be disappointed. If you are looking for spiritual historical novel, then you may enjoy this one.