The start to a new series by Drake, this Cinderella adaptation with a very Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights feel, left me yawning and wondering, "Where's the chemistry?"
Annabelle Quinn is ready to leave the finishing school she was raised in since she was discovered on its doorstep as a child. She was assumed to be a bastard and was mistreated by most at the school, but with the chance to be a governess to an orphaned duke, she plans on making a better life for herself. When she arrives it's to discover that the duke's guardian, Lord Simon Westbury, didn't know she had been hired and doesn't really want her to stay. So she strikes a bargain that if she can make the young duke's life better, and prove that a governess to the child is necessary, she can keep her post for the year before he's sent to Eton.
Annabelle has her work cut out for her. The duke is a good child, but he's being abused by his tutor, the local priest. He's also being emotionally neglected by his guardian who wants nothing to do with him. Simon fell in love with the child's mother, but was passed over for his much higher ranking brother. Looking at the child reminds Simon of his pain and heartache.
This book had a lot of promise, but sadly Simon just isn't a good hero and Annabelle and he have zero chemistry together. From the moment they meet Simon wants to take her as a mistress, but I'm not sure why. They spend very little time together and when they do, Annabelle comes off as a know-it-all, and Simon like a cowardly, grumpy, idiot.
There's a mystery plot and of course Annabelle can't be just any old bastard, but since I didn't connect to either character, and really couldn't understand why they would be together, I didn't care at all about this plotline. This is the first in a new series of fairy tale inspired stories for Drake and all I can hope is that the next one is much better.
Bottom Line: Without good characters a romance is an empty shell of a read. Sadly, that's what this was for me.