The Folly at Falconbridge Hall by Maggi Andersen is a satisfying historical romance with characters that you can’t help but care about. The pace of the novel builds slowly and the mystery simmers in the background throughout. The governess heroine, Vanessa Ashley, is a particularly admirable character who acts sensibly and comes to truly care for her charge, Blythe, who is another memorable character. If you like your romance with a relationship that builds gradually between heroine and hero—a slow burn rather than a raging fire—then you will enjoy this story. In some ways, the mystery didn’t feel essential to the novel, but it was an element that made many of the characters even more interesting and vital, as they were cast under the shadow of suspicion.
When Vanessa Ashley takes on her role as governess to Lord Falconbridge’s daughter, she finds more than she bargained for at Falconbridge Hall. Secrets and questions abound related to the death of Julian, Lord Falconbridge’s, wife and the hasty departure of the previous governess. Lord Falconbridge himself is also mysterious, at times surprisingly demanding and other times a doting father to his daughter, Blythe. When Julian departs on one of his foreign expeditions, Vanessa acknowledges her growing affection for him, but she is left to uncover the mystery of Falconbridge Hall alone in order to protect herself, Blythe, and their future as a family.
Vanessa Ashley felt herself qualified for a position as governess, until offered the position at Falconbridge Hall. Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics, and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, in the countryside outside London. Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter's education. As she prepares her young charge, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof. As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn't Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?