Skip to product information
1 of 3

Mr. Gardiner and the Governess

Mr. Gardiner and the Governess

Narrated by Jessica Elisa Boyd

Regular price $12.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $12.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Purchase the Audiobook Instantly
  • Receive Download Link via Email
  • Stream on BookFunnel or Download MP3 Audiofiles and Enjoy!

Alice Sharpe, a spirited governess with an impulsive nature, is new to her position in the household of the Duke of Montfort. Alice hopes to secure a comfortable future and fade into the background. However, her encounters with Rupert Gardiner, a guest of the duke with a passion for insects, challenge her ability to conform to her role.

Rupert's main objective is to publish his entomology and botany work, and he is assigned by the duke to document the flora on the castle grounds. Alice's spontaneous nature and frequent interruptions during his work irritate him, or so he tries to convince himself.

As the first stand-alone novel in a new series by author Sally Britton, this story begins the Clairvoir Castle romances.

Main Tropes

  • Governess/Gentleman
  • Opposites Attract
  • Duty vs. Desire


As the new governess to the duke's family, Alice Sharpe must learn to control her impulsiveness. Employment in the duke’s household is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and could mean living in comfort the rest of her days. Unfortunately, her first encounter with the duke's houseguest, a handsome gentleman obsessed with insects, proves she may not be ready for the austere role of governess. 

Rupert Gardiner has one goal: to have his work in entomology and botany published by the Royal Society. He is fortunate that the Duke of Montfort, believes in him and enlists Rupert to make a record of all the flora on the castle grounds. But Miss Sharpe’s spontaneity and continual appearance during his work is an annoying distraction. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

While Alice struggles to adapt to her new role, constantly striving to go unnoticed while still being herself, she cannot help but admire Rupert’s intelligence and focus. The more often they fall in together, the more her admiration deepens. But could a gentleman such as he ever fall in love with the governess?

As the first stand-alone novel in a new series by author Sally Britton, this story begins the Clairvoir Castle romances. This is a light-hearted series set in the Regency period.

Intro to Chapter One

For most of Alice Sharpe’s life, her relatives passed her from one home to another, the same way one might pass an unwanted family heirloom with little more value than sentiment. As she stood on the fine Persian rug before Her Grace, Sarah, the Dowager Duchess of Montfort, Alice reflected that this was the first time she had been given up to someone not even a part of the family.

“You do not look like a governess.” The dowager duchess narrowed her eyes, the surrounding wrinkles deepening somewhat. She and Alice’s great-aunt had served Queen Charlotte together as ladies-in-waiting, years before. “But Lucinda says you are well-suited to the position.”

Alice swiftly lowered her gaze to the floor rather than be caught staring. “My great-aunt paid for much of my education herself, madam. I am four-and-twenty, and I have acted as a governess in all but name to several of my cousins for half a dozen years.”

The dowager turned to the only other person in the room, her daughter-in-law, the current Duchess of Montfort. “What do you think, Cecilia?”

Her Grace, the Duchess of Montfort, made a thoughtful humming sound before she spoke, her beautiful voice low and cultured. “I think Miss Sharpe would do well here. She is old enough to keep the girls in check and has more than enough experience. It certainly helps that she is familiar with our set. Why has your great-aunt sent you here, rather than retain you as a companion or governess for someone in your family?”

The exotic flowers swirling upon the carpet provided no reassurance, but Alice followed their lines with her eyes as she spoke. “If it pleases Your Grace, my great-aunt learned of your need for a governess and thought there could be no greater honor than for me to serve in your household.”

That was the reason Alice had been told, but she had heard the quiet conversations from the other end of the dinner table and the corners of drawing rooms. The family had tired of looking after her, and several of them thought Alice ought to make her own way in the world. At least until she was old enough not to compete with their daughters when suitors came to call.

Apparently, her fair hair and blue eyes made her a competitor for the interest of gentlemen bachelors.

Her unconscious place as a rival led to the three hour carriage ride that brought her to the castle, her trunks waiting in some unknown hall to either be swept up to some small bedchamber reserved for a governess or else tucked back into the carriage with her, sent back to her great-aunt in disgrace.

Though the duchess must know she was one of the most powerful women in England, she spoke with a gentleness Alice had not expected. “You would not oversee all the instruction for my daughters’ education, of course. We bring in masters for riding, dancing, music, and art. I would expect you to see to their academic studies, and mind that they practiced everything else. You are to ensure they keep to their schedules. Is that agreeable to you, Miss Sharpe?”

“Your Grace, I am confident in my teaching abilities. I will make certain your daughters are well prepared to leave the schoolroom when you see fit. It would be an honor to serve you here at Clairvoir Castle.”

Had Alice’s great-aunt not pronounced the name of ancient lands as “Clee-ver,” Alice certainly would have said it wrong. Despite the estate name being originally from the French, the early English inhabitants of the estate had corrupted the pronunciation hundreds of years before. 

The duchess lowered her voice to speak to her mother-in-law, their quiet whispers the only sound in the large sitting room awash in the afternoon sunlight.

Alice’s fingers twitched with the need to push her wired spectacles up her nose, but instead she gripped her skirts tighter. She needed the spectacles to read but could do without them otherwise. Yet her great-aunt had insisted she wear them as often as possible, as “Society considers girls wearing spectacles plain.” Yet another way to ensure she did not distract her cousins’ suitors. 

Even at that moment, surrounded by crystal chandeliers, plush furnishings, and the rich tapestries of the newly rebuilt Castle Clairvoir, Alice presented herself as no more than a brown smudge in the bright glittering world of wealth. She wore a dark brown gown with a cream-colored fichu to hide the smooth skin of her neck. Her hair she had pulled back, most severely, into an unattractive and severe twist. The ash-blonde curls that escaped the strict style might have framed her face prettily, if not for the spectacles. 

“Miss Sharpe.” The dowager duchess spoke, and Alice raised her eyes enough to acknowledge the salutation. “We have decided to take you on at the rate of one-hundred pounds per annum should you adhere to the rules of the household and uphold your promises of education for Lady Isabelle and Lady Rosalind, and you will see after Lord James until he goes away to school this winter.” 

Relief and dread mingled together in Alice’s heart. They would not turn her away, yet the weight of the new responsibility nearly made her sag to the floor. The Duke of Montfort had three daughters and two sons. Alice now stood responsible for the three youngest of his noble children, girls as likely to marry into royalty as they were to catch cold, and the younger son. 

The eldest son, bearing the honorary title Earl of Farleigh, was not at home. Lady Josephine, the eldest daughter, had left the schoolroom years before.

Alice hardly said another word for the quarter of an hour that the dowager and the duchess laid out their expectations and rules for her. Her behavior was to be as firmly controlled as the subjects she taught the girls, though the more she nodded and promised, the more Alice’s courage grew.

She had always been clever, and she had always enjoyed learning. Thanks to her need to adjust and fit into numerous households and families over the years, she knew herself to be personable as well. 

I can do this, she told herself repeatedly during the last of the interview. When a maid came to show Alice to her room, Alice squared her shoulders like a good soldier and prepared for the first meeting with her charges. 

Passing through the corridors of the castle, the maid rattled off which rooms they walked by and their purpose. The maid was well-acquainted with the house and had an air of superiority about herself that Society’s matrons would be hard-pressed to match.

Alice smiled to herself. She might not be a princess of any sort, but what girl hadn’t wished to live in a place as lovely as Clairvoir Castle? The libraries and gardens were the stuff of legend, the family with a history reaching back to their aid of William the Conqueror. Few women of Alice’s lower birth would ever walk the grounds, let alone have access to the house and family.

The opportunity thrilled her, as did finally having a purpose. 

And yet.

Her gaze wandered to the wide windows of the ballroom as they passed its open door. For a moment, her breath hitched. Dreams of dancing in such a room with a handsome partner were a thing of the past. They had to be. 

Governesses were not permitted any sort of courtship. They were almost non-entities.

Swallowing back the bleak thought, Alice gave her full attention to the maid once more. She clasped her hands before her, feeling her father’s ring on her thumb. Though it was beneath her glove, the ring’s presence comforted her. 

The schoolroom would be her domain. The ballroom was better forgotten.

View full details