Review: A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley

I'm delighted to share my review of A Laird for the Governess, a heart-warming romance novel by Catherine Tinley

My thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for a copy. Make sure to check out all the other wonderful stops on this blog tour.

A Laird for the Governess

Catherine Tinley

Historical Romance / Scottish Romance

A Laird for the Governess begins in Regency London where young Lydia is employed as governess to look after two young boys. We learn quickly that Lydia is beautiful, but because of her humble background and occupation, she clothes herself in unflattering gowns to avoid unwanted attention.

However, this doesn't quite work out when the uncle to the boys accosts her in the classroom, in full view of the children. Lydia is not surprised when the cad's sister – the boys’ mother – merely sends him on his way, and immediately dismisses Lydia, even though the situation was clearly his fault. It had happened before...

When her sympathetic employment agent suggests a posting on a remote Scottish island, to look after a girl with an affliction, it sounds like her chance to escape the clutches of the rogues of the ton. But the journey is arduous, and the first doubts creep in. Would she fit in with an island community?

To her shock, he learns that the girl's father, the Laird, is widowed. Lydia's old fears emerge, but she decides to give it a chance. When she meets Mairead, the daughter, she immediately takes to the girl, and they quickly form a close bond. Lydia's teaching practice gets Mairead to study, despite the girl's initial attempts at distracting her. But Lydia makes learning fun, and soon Mairead is turning into a keen learner.

Alasdair MacDonald has been widowed for several years, his Lowland wife met with a fatal accident as she fled the island to return to ’society’. Her betrayal foremost on his mind, he shuts himself away when he realises that he feels drawn to Lydia, admiring the gentle but firm way she deals with his daughter. But she is a stranger on the island, a Sassenach even, and surely, she must miss London?

Mairead has not walked in years, following a serious fever when she was a toddler. Her legs are weak, but responsive. So Lydia secretly suggests a way for Mairead to start getting stronger – by making her try to learn to walk like a toddler. Small baby steps. Over time, Mairead's hard work pays off. Meanwhile, Lydia feels drawn to Alasdair, but her past experiences have taught her to doubt herself.

This novel is about finding love in the most unusual circumstances, and to trust your instincts. Mairead's story is at the forefront, even though we keep the budding romance between Lydia and Alasdair in mind throughout. The girl's progress is crucial as it shows Lydia's commitment and affection towards her. And towards the community.

I enjoyed the drama, the setting, and the heart-warming development involving Mairead. Lydia and Alasdair have their demons to overcome, and they do so honestly and within character. They were thoroughly likeable, as was Mairead and a plethora of supporting characters. All in all, Catherine Tinley has captured the community spirit very well. The Jacobite leanings of Alasdair and his household are also realistic, showing that beneath the enforced surface, the local hearts were still beating for the rightful cause. I thought that was a gentle but lovely addition to the plot.

The only snag I hit was the regular reminders of Lydia's beauty. I found it a little overdone at times, clearly intended to explain her fears and expectations. But as the story progresses, these references blend into the background, and the real Lydia comes to the fore: caring, kind, and immersed in island life. That's a wonderful progression to see.

A Laird for the Governess is a sweet novel, but with aspects of darker events, with a real sense of place and time, and the dangers people faced. An unusual Scottish romance, honest and realistic, and without the usual clichés. I loved the characters, and I only wish there were more novels about their life together...

A highly recommended read. 



A penniless governess

And the dour Laird of Ardmore

Lydia Farnham must travel to a remote Scottish island to work for widower Alasdair MacDonald, who doesn’t trust her or her unconventional teaching methods! 

Yet as his daughter flourishes, so, too, does the intense connection between Lydia and Alasdair.

Only she should know better than to fall for the handsome laird when it could leave her without a job, or a home…

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About the Author:

Catherine Tinley

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book, Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021 as well as the 2021 HOLT Medallion for Best Historical Romance.

She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at, on facebook, twitter, and instagram.

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