The Governess Affair

The Governess Affair - Courtney Milan

Serena was fired from her job as a governess after a duke rapes her. Now she is determined to passive aggressively blackmail him into providing some support for the child that resulted. The hero, Hugo, is in charge of ensuring that the duke keeps his head above water financially, so when Serena appears and threatens to rock the boat, it's his job to dissuade her.


I hated the premise of this story. Why? Because I hate when rape is used purely as a literary device to strengthen a heroine and that's what its used as here. Serena shows little to no emotional reactions to having been raped unless it a) helps progress the relationship between her and Hugo or b) is used to display Serena's unselfishness through the unswerving commitment and love she has for her unborn child that resulted from the rape.

My problem with this is that the overall tone of the story is not equipped to properly deal with the seriousness of rape. So, when reading this story, rape comes across as either inconsequential or a circumstance that offers new-found strength to women. This ignores most of the emotional impact rape has on a survivor and, by ignoring it, works to trivialize the experience. However, I would like to state that I'm not accusing Milan of condoning or intentionally trivializing sexual violence in any sense. What I am trying to get across is that creating a light-hearted story where rape is the main component of the plot does not work. I feel that there are other reasons that Serena could've lost her job and then set out to blackmail the duke that would've worked much better.