This is how ridiculous I am: I purchased this because I liked the shoes the girl was wearing in the cover photo.
Well... that and I had heard good things about Karen Witemeyer as an up-and-coming historical novelist.
I have yet to read her first novel, A Tailor-Made Bride; but I am going to assume it is as pleasant as Head in the Clouds, which I easily finished in one sitting.
Adelaide Proctor is desperate to find a romance and subsequent family of her own. She spends her days literally with her head in the clouds, day-dreaming of the heroes in the stories she reads by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. When a knight-in-shining-armor turns out to be a rake in disguise, Adelaide throws caution to the wind and applies for a job as a governess to new rancher ( and British ex-pat) Gideon Westcott and his mute daughter.
Back story reveals that in true Valjean-Fantine tradition, Gideon is not Isabella's biological father; rather a stranger who promised to take her into his care upon the untimely death of her mother. Adelaide begins to fall madly for both of them and a happy ending can only be secured when dangers from Isabella's past and a hovering uncle bent on securing his niece's massive fortune is halted.
The story is very formulaic and will be very comfortable for those who enjoy this genre. There aren't any real surprises and it follows in the tradition of the Bethany House Historical Romance line. That aspect of the book, I found, to be a little too safe for me. I would love if Witemeyer had shaken and spiced the genre a bit; but I realize that my viewpoint and marketable interest are two very different things. Thus, for an offering in this often-frustrating genre, I found it to be above-average in execution and style.
I enjoyed the constant references into the actual literary world of Jane Eyre and the comparison of Jane's plight to Adelaide's own.
Readers who hanker after a great Romantic hero will be smitten with Gideon. Not only does he have dimples and a roguish sense of humour, Witemeyer does well to make him equal-parts rugged sheep herder and classic British gentleman. By day, he wears work clothes and rustles in the field; brandishing a gun at times, riding a horse and basically appealing to a girl who loves a cowboy. By night, the golden cufflinks are polished, the manners tamed and a starched white handkerchief dabs at his masculine jawline. Gideon's concern for his ward, Isabella, is a charming addition to the romantic plot between he and his governess.
The governess-master plot has seen a real renaissance in recent Christian Historicals and Witemeyer does well in a genre already well-established with a topic that, unfortunately, is becoming a bit too familiar and bordering on the verge of cliche.
I look forward to checking out more of her writing in the future.
Readers of Deeanne Gist and Cathy Mary Hake will feel right at home!