Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Governess Of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.  

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future.


October 1911,
Berkshire, England
Julia Foster lifted her gaze to the clear October sky as a lark swooped past. Her steps slowed and her thoughts took flight, following the bird as it dipped into the golden trees beyond the meadow. If only she could fly away, back to the familiar life and cherished friends she had left behind in India. But that dream would have to wait.
She shifted her gaze to the country lane rising before her. Around the next bend she would see Highland Hall. At least that was what she remembered, but twelve years had passed since she had attended a charity bazaar at the large estate before her family left for India. What if she had misjudged the distance or the time it took to walk from the village of Fulton to High- land Hall? She quickened her pace. It wouldn’t do to be late for her ten o’clock appointment with Mrs. Emmitt, the housekeeper.
When she reached the top of the rise, she spotted an expensive-looking navy-blue motorcar with a black roof pulled to the side of the lane. A tall man, who had discarded his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, stood over the open hood. He reached in and pulled on something, then bent lower and scowled.
She considered walking past since they had not been introduced, but her conscience would not allow it. Stopping a few feet away, she cleared her throat. “Excuse me, sir. Do you need some assistance?”
He turned and glared at her. “Assistance?” His dark eyebrows rose to a haughty slant. “I suppose you know something about car engines?”
Julia lifted her chin, suppressing the urge to match his mocking tone. “No sir. But I’m on my way to Highland Hall, and I could ask someone there to come and help you if you like.”
He huffed, grabbed the rag lying on the car’s running board, and wiped his hands. “It won’t do any good. No one there knows a blasted thing about cars.” He tapped the gold Highland insignia on the door.
Julia stepped away, more than happy to leave the brooding chauffeur behind.
“Wait, you say you’re headed to Highland Hall?”
She turned and faced him again. “Yes, I have an interview with Mrs. Emmitt.” Perhaps if he knew she might soon be working for Sir William Ramsey, the new master of Highland Hall, he would treat her with a little more respect.
He narrowed his deep blue eyes and assessed her. “An interview? For what position?”
She looked away, debating the wisdom of continuing the conversation with a man who wasn’t civil enough to introduce himself.
“It’s all right. You can tell me.” He nodded to her, obviously expecting a reply.
“If you must know, I’m applying for the position of governess.”
A look of disbelief flashed across his face and the scowl returned. “You look too young. Do you have any experience?”
She straightened, trying to add another inch to her petite stature, but she was still at least a foot shorter than he. “I’ve been teaching children for nine years.”
“Really? Did you begin teaching when you were ten?”
She clenched her jaw. Was there no end to the man’s rudeness? “No sir. I was eighteen. And if you’ll excuse me, I must go, or I’ll be late for my appointment.” She turned and strode away.
“There’s no need to rush off in a huff.” He caught up with her. “I didn’t mean to insult you.”
“I’m not insulted, just intent on being punctual.” She cast him a quick side glance. “I don’t have the time or luxury to stand by the roadside and fiddle with car engines.”
He grinned and then chuckled.
Heat flashed into her face. Infuriating man! How dare he laugh at her. She hurried on, not giving him the satisfaction of a reply.
“Well, pardon me.”
She sent him a withering look and walked on so quickly she got a stitch in her side.
With his long legs, he had no trouble keeping pace. “You certainly have spirit. I like that.”
She gulped in a big breath and spun toward him. “You, sir, are entirely too familiar and too rude for words!”
His jaw dropped, and he stared at her, wide-eyed.
With her face burning, she marched away. She’d only gone a few steps before regret overtook her. Forgive me, Lord. I should not have spoken to him like that. But he was so ill mannered I couldn’t help myself. She sighed and lifted her eyes to heaven. I’m sorry. I know that’s not true. You’re faithful to give me the strength to control my tongue if I will only ask. But please, Lord, could You make him forget what I said? Or at least let me have little contact with him at Highland?
She doubted that last part of her prayer would be answered. While Highland Hall was a large house, the staff probably saw each other through- out the day.
What a terrible way to start off. No doubt he’d tell everyone she was hot-tempered and not worthy of the position of governess. And that was assuming she got the job. And she must. Her father’s illness had stretched on for months, forcing them to leave India and return to England. Now that he was unable to practice medicine, her parents depended on her for support. She must not let them down, no matter how humbling or difficult the job might be.
The lane curved to the right, and Highland Hall came into view. Julia’s steps slowed as she took in the lovely grounds and large house. It looked more like a castle, standing four stories high at its tallest point, with a wide lawn and curved, gravel drive leading to the front door. It was built of sand- colored stone, and though some sections had turned yellow and gray with age, it still looked sturdy and imposing. A tall, round turret stood at the right corner, and an arched portico stretched halfway across the front of the house.
Oh Lord, that house is worth a fortune, and the people who live there are definitely used to a different life than I’ve lived. How will I ever fit in?
She shook her head, then straightened her shoulders. There was no time to fret, not if she wanted to make a good impression and arrive at the appointed hour. She made her way around the side of the house, following the directions Reverend Langford had given her.
A broad-shouldered man wearing a brown cap and tweed coat pushed a wheelbarrow toward the greenhouse. He stopped and nodded to her. “Can I help you, miss?” He looked about thirty-five and had a kind, honest face.
She returned his nod with a slight smile. “I have an appointment with Mrs. Emmitt.”
He pointed to a door tucked in a corner at the back of the house. “Just ring the bell there, miss, and someone will be along to help you.”
She thanked him and crossed the rear courtyard. Pulling in a deep breath, she smoothed her hand down her cloak and skirt and checked her hat. Everything seemed to be in place. Lifting her hand, she pressed the bell while her stomach fluttered like a nervous bird.
Only a few seconds passed before the door opened and a plump young woman with rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes greeted her. She wore a white apron over her dark green servant’s uniform and a white cap. “How can I help you, miss?”
“I’m Julia Foster. I’m here to see Mrs. Emmitt.”
“Very good. Come this way.” She started down the steps and smiled over her shoulder. “I’m Lydia, one of the housemaids. Are you here about a position?”
“Yes.” Remembering her encounter with the brooding chauffeur, she decided not to add any more details. As they reached the bottom step, the heavenly scent of baking bread and roasting meat floated toward her. She breathed deeply, savoring the smell. Her empty stomach contracted, re- minding her that she had walked off the simple breakfast of porridge she’d eaten at seven.
Lydia led the way past the kitchen. Julia glanced through the doorway and saw two young women and a man in a white chef’s jacket chopping vegetables at the table in the center of the room. He said something to one of the women, but his French accent was so strong Julia couldn’t understand him.
“You’ll want to mind your p’s and q’s with Mrs. Emmitt,” Lydia said, continuing down the hallway. “She’s a stickler for proper manners and such. But you’re smart-looking. That should help it go well for you.”
“Thank you,” Julia murmured, though she wasn’t sure that was the right response.
“This is it.” Lydia stopped in front of a closed door. “Mug’s parlor, at least that’s what we call it.” She grinned and nodded. “Go on, then. Give it a knock, and good luck to you.”
“Thank you.” Julia sent off one more silent prayer, then rapped on the door while the maid disappeared into another room.
The door swung open, and a stern-faced woman who appeared to be about sixty looked out at her. She wore a plain navy-blue dress with a cameo pinned at the high neck and a set of keys clipped to her waistband. Small, wire-rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of her nose.
“Good day, ma’am. I’m Julia Foster.”
“Come in. I’ve been expecting you.” She motioned toward the straight- backed chair by the fireplace while she lowered herself onto the settee. “Do you have your letters of reference?”
“Yes ma’am.” Julia took the letters from Reverend Langford and Lady Farnsworth from her handbag and gave them to Mrs. Emmitt.
The housekeeper pursed her lips and read Lady Farnsworth’s letter first. “She says your family has been acquainted with hers for many years.”
“Yes, my father served as her family physician since the time of her marriage to Lord Farnsworth.”
“I’m not sure what that has to do with you.” Mrs. Emmitt opened and read Reverend Langford’s letter next, her stern expression never softening. “It says you’ve been out of the country for twelve years. Is that correct?”
Julia nodded. “Our family has been serving in India since 1899 with the London Missionary Society.”
Mrs. Emmitt’s nose wrinkled slightly as her gaze dipped back to the letter. “You were a teacher there?”
“Yes, we opened a home for girls and ran a medical clinic for the village.”
Memories of India came flooding back—the overflowing marketplace, heavy with the scent of spices, the magenta flowers climbing the stone wall surrounding their home, the colorful embroidered saris of the women, and the beautiful dark faces of their girls...her students and the flowers of their ministry.
“Miss Foster?” Julia blinked. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” “How do you intend to teach the social skills our young ladies need to learn to enter society when you’ve been raised in”—she looked at Julia over the top of her glasses—“such a heathen environment?”
Heat infused her cheeks. “I was raised in Fulton by loving Christian parents who passed on their godly values and manners. I attended the village school until age twelve, then my mother taught me at home until I was fifteen. My training continued under my parents’ guidance when we traveled to India. My experiences there have given me unique opportunities to see God at work in the world and to interact with all types of people.”
Mrs. Emmitt took a handkerchief from her sleeve and dabbed her nose. “Yes...all types of people.” She folded the letters and handed them back to Julia. “We’ve had a difficult time finding a governess. There are few qualified candidates in the area.”
Julia wasn’t sure what to say to that remark, so she kept silent.
Mrs. Emmitt sighed and gave a resigned nod. “Sir William has two children. His son, Andrew, is nine, and his daughter, Millicent, is six. Andrew will most likely be going away to school within the year, but he needs someone to help him prepare. Millicent has poor health. She needs careful attention and should not overexert herself.”
Julia nodded, her hopes rising. Did this mean Mrs. Emmitt was satisfied with her qualifications?
“The children’s mother passed away three years ago, which may be the reason Andrew has had such a difficult time.”
Julia tensed. A difficult time? What did she mean?
“Sir William is also the guardian of his two young cousins,” Mrs. Emmitt continued. “Miss Katherine Ramsey turns eighteen next month, and Miss Penelope is fifteen. The girls have been raised here at Highland, and it’s been quite an adjustment for them to grieve their father’s death and see the estate passed to their second cousin once removed.” Mrs. Emmitt sent her a pained look. “It has been an adjustment for us all.”
Julia swallowed, trying to take it all in. “So I would be teaching Sir William’s children as well as the two young ladies?” Reverend Langford hadn’t mentioned Katherine and Penelope. No wonder Mrs. Emmitt wanted to know if Julia was prepared to teach social skills. Katherine was old enough to be presented at court and take part in the London social season.
“That’s correct.” Mrs. Emmitt nodded. “You would oversee all four, following a program for their education and training set out by Sir William.”
Julia had never taken part in the season, but her mother had, and she could probably advise her on how to help Katherine prepare.
“If that’s agreeable to you, I will take you to meet Sir William, and he can finish the interview.” Mrs. Emmitt stood and waited for Julia’s reply.
“Yes ma’am, I would be happy to meet him.” Julia rose.
“Come along then.” Mrs. Emmitt left the parlor and led the way up the stone staircase, past the green baize door, and into the great hall.
Julia’s eyes widened as she gazed up at the beautiful carved ceiling that arched high overhead. Richly colored tapestries and paintings of distinguished people hung on the paneled walls. Were they the past owners of Highland? A large fireplace with an elaborate marble mantle stood in the center of the wall on her right, and opposite that, a grand oak staircase rose to an open gallery one floor above.
Mrs. Emmitt glanced over her shoulder. “Don’t dawdle.”
Julia dropped her gaze and hurried after the housekeeper. There would be time to take in the splendor of the house after she spoke to Sir William— if she got the job. A shiver of anticipation raced down her arms.
A stout butler in a neatly pressed black suit, white shirt, and black tie stepped forward to meet them. A touch of silver in his dark hair gave him a distinguished appearance. His excellent posture and calm expression announced he was a man of dignity and authority.
“Mr. Lawrence, this is Miss Foster. I am interviewing her for the position of governess. Is Sir William available to meet with her?”
Mr. Lawrence looked Julia over and gave a curt nod. “I’ll see.” He stepped through a nearby doorway, and she heard him say, “Miss Foster, the woman applying for the position of governess, is here to see you, sir.”
“Who? Oh yes. Have her come in.” Sir William’s voice seemed to carry a note of irritation.
Mr. Lawrence stepped out the door and nodded to them. Julia took a deep breath and followed Mrs. Emmitt into the room. Bookshelves lined the wall on the right, and opposite the door, three tall windows looked out on the side gardens. In the corner a man sat at a beautifully carved desk with his back to them. He put his pen aside and turned to face them.
A shock wave jolted Julia. Her eyes widened as she stared at the man she’d met on the lane, the man she supposed was the chauffeur. Her stomach tumbled to her feet, and her hopes fell with it.
“Miss Foster, please take a seat.” Sir William stood and nodded toward an overstuffed chair. His gaze shifted to the housekeeper. “That will be all, Mrs. Emmitt.”
The housekeeper stiffened. “Perhaps I should stay and—” “That won’t be necessary.” His steady gaze made his meaning clear. Mrs. Emmitt gave a curt nod, then turned and left the room. The butler followed. Julia swallowed and sank into the chair.
 “So, Miss Foster, you’ve come seeking the position of governess for my children and my two cousins?”
“Yes sir.” Julia clasped her hands in her lap, her face burning. “But first, I must apologize for the way I spoke to you earlier this morning on the lane. I’m sorry. I had no idea... I thought you were the...chauffeur.”
“There is no need to apologize. I should have introduced myself.”
“Yes sir, that would have been helpful.” And it might’ve kept me from making a fool of myself and jeopardizing my chances at Highland.
He sat opposite her. “So tell me why you believe you’re qualified for the position of governess.”
Was he truly going to give her a chance, even after the way she’d spoken to him? She gathered her thoughts and looked into his eyes. “Since I was fifteen I’ve assisted my parents, teaching and training the young girls who came into our care in our mission work in India.”
“India, you say?”
“Yes sir. Our family served there for the last twelve years. My father is a physician, and we ran a medical clinic and a home for girls who were orphans or those we were able to buy out of...difficult situations.”
He frowned slightly. “What kind of situations?”
She hesitated, trying to remember exactly how her parents explained it. “It’s hard to speak of, sir, but some girls are sold by their families to serve in Hindu temples.” She looked down, her cheeks warming again. “It’s a very heathen practice that takes away a young girl’s innocence and purity.”
His expression sobered. “Rescuing girls caught in such circumstances is commendable. What was your role there?”
“The girls lived with us at the mission station. I helped oversee their care, education, and upbringing. I also assisted my father in the clinic and helped my mother with all the practical aspects of running our home and the mission.”
“That sounds like quite an undertaking.” “It’s important work, sir. I felt privileged to do it.” “You seem quite committed.” He hesitated a moment. “May I ask why you decided to leave?”
 “My father’s health has been declining for quite some time. It reached a crisis three months ago. He needed more medical care, so we decided to come back to England.”
“Has he improved since you returned?”
“Not as much as we had hoped. He is confined to his bed most days.” She looked away and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat.
His expression softened. “I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps with more rest and good care he will recover.”
“That is our hope and prayer.” She pressed her lips together for a moment, and then lifted her gaze to meet his. “And that’s why it’s so important that I find a position nearby, one that allows me to help support my parents and makes it possible for me to visit them on my afternoons off.”
“I see.” He stood and walked over to the desk. “Give me a moment, please.”
Her heart pounded, and she clutched the folds of her skirt. Had she said too much? She closed her eyes.

Please Lord, move his heart. Give me a chance to help my parents and serve this family.

About The Author

Carrie Turansky has loved reading since she first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. Her love for writing began when she penned her first novel at age twelve. She is now the award-winning author of eleven inspirational romance novels and novellas. Carrie and her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, and speaker, have been married for more than thirty-five years and make their home in New Jersey. They often travel together on ministry trips and to visit their five adult children and three grandchildren. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys spending time working in her flower gardens and cooking healthy meals for friends and family. 

Purchase The Governess of Highland Hall at:

Carrie Turansky is giving away a copy of The Governess Of Highland Hall. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Sharon Timmer said...

I Have already read Carrie's book, and it is wonderful which is why I would like to win a copy to give to my sister :)

Mary / Touch of Heaven said...

This sounds like a great story, would love to win it! She is a new author to me. atouchofheaven2010 at gmail dot com.

Boos Mum said...

I admit I haven't watched Downtown Abbey yet. However, your book sounds really good and I am interested in reading it. Thanks for the giveaway.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Linda Finn said...

Awesome book, can't part with my own and Mom wants to read it. So it would be nicer to win annother to share with mom and Sisters.
Carrie, you are such a good author.

Jackie McNutt said...

I love the story line of this book.
The struggle between the social classes and the feeling for each other that is overcome opens the door to their future and will make a great read! Thank you . I really enjoy all your books.

Lis said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt. "Did you begin teaching when you were ten?" That was really funny.

Patty said...

This book certainly reminds me of Downton Abby. Can't wait for the new season!
Love the excerpt, would love to win the book to read.


Amy Putney said...

I'm so excited to see "The Governess of Highland Hall" on your blog! I've been looking forward to this book's release for months! :) Hoping to get a chance to read it soon!

Amy Putney said...

Oops. Forgot my email address...

aeputney [at] liberty [dot] edu

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Sharon, Sandra, Karen, and Caroline, Thanks for inviting me over to share with reading friends today! I'm excited to read that so many are interested in the story. Blessings and Happy Reading to all!

Merry said...

The Governess of Highland Hall sounds awesome, I like that the main character has an interesting background to draw from. Please add me!
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

bonton said...

Hi, Carrie!

Have read so many good reviews about The Governess of Highland Hall! Love the storyline - a lot of different elements involved - & would love to read the book! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


Pam K. said...

I've been seeing this book a lot and read good reviews for it. It would be very nice to win a copy of The Governess of Highland Hall. Thanks for giving away this book.


karenk said...

this novel sounds great! thanks for the chance to read it :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

sm said...

Would love to win your book! Love visiting Oregon. sharon, CA wileygreen1@yahoo(dot)com

KayM said...

I love the book trailer. It is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book trailer. And knowing what this book is about. I'd love to win it and read the rest of the story.
Sounds like you are a very busy lady Carrie. With your church activities that seem to always to be going on in church ,plus your writing. And then whatever goes on in one's life. Hoping to be a winner. Thanks to BDBL for having you here and for the give-away.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Joy Hannabass said...

I love historical fiction and this one sounds awesome! I love Carrie's books so I know this is an awesome one!

Kelly O. said...

This book sounds like it is set in such an interesting era! I would love to read it! -Kelly

kosterbind at gmail dot come

Barbara Thompson said...

This book sounds awesome. I love to read historical fiction. Thank you for the chance of this giveaway and please enter my name.
Barbara Thompson

Sonja said...

Sounds like a wonderful read! I thank you for the opportunity and give-away! Sonja.nishimoto (at) gmail. (dot) com

R Merr said...

Book looks amazing! On my "want to read list." Ewe_r_merritt(at)yahoo(dot)com

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