With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson
Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?
Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?
This story was what I would call a lighthearted read. Taking place in western Indian Territory in the late 1800s, I felt that the author effectively developed an environment that gave me a sense of what it would have been like to live in such a world during that time. However, the bulk of the story wasn’t focus primarily on the environment or history—which is fine, as it was on the main character, Louisa Bell. I struggled to connect with Louisa, although I wouldn’t say she was an unlikeable character. The part that I struggled with was Louisa’s lack of confidence in explaining or expressing herself, especially to the Adams, the family she was a governess to. I felt she was somewhat flakey. Of course, I believe that was the author’s intent in creating such a character, so I would say the author did a great job in doing so.
The story progressed steadily and there weren’t any parts that significantly lingered or dragged on, however, there just wasn’t enough excitement in the story. There was little to no mystery or intrigue, as well as action, which I tend to like in stories. I felt sure of how things would end for Louisa. I was even sure of the chain of events leading to the end. Again, I think what made me keep reading, even though I felt the story was predictable, was that each chapter offered some progressed. With each chapter things moved forward, got somewhere.
Another negative, as a mentioned earlier about Louisa, was the collective personalities of Louisa and Daniel Adams. In general, they both struggled to accept the truth or face the truth, so they did a lot of skirting around the issue or covering things up, which was exhausting. I know those are the personalities that the author intended to create, but given that the story was lighthearted and there wasn’t a lot was going on in terms of mystery, intrigue, and action, my interest wasn’t always captured.
Yes, I would still recommend this story, especially to those who are more interested in drama and like lighthearted reads that focus on characters and their internal struggles.
3 out of 5 stars. I think the story was well written and sounded authentic for the time and place. However, there was not a lot going on and the characters struggled to express themselves or face the issues. Given there was not much else happening in terms of action, mystery, and intrigue, it didn’t make for an exciting read.
***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***