Different Tides – Janet Woods
Clementine Morris is hired by Zachariah Fleet to care for his orphaned niece and nephew. The children arrive in England too traumatized to speak after witnessing the death of their parents, and with a question mark hovering over their parentage.
Clementine is a distant relative by marriage, and the possible legatee for a useful amount of money. The children soon learn to love and trust her.
Another young woman turns up with a claim for the inheritance. Her name is Alexandra. She is worldly, accomplished, and more socially inclined than the tender-hearted Clementine, and she flirts with Zachariah. This causes consternation in the young governess, as she begins to suspect she may be falling in love with her employer.
Zachariah has never allowed himself to fall in love, but gradually he grows to trust Clementine, especially with the children. He recognizes the warm feelings he has towards his governess for what he thinks they are - the physical reaction a healthy man has towards a woman. He resists the growing attraction as much as he can, but short of tossing Clementine out and depriving his wards of a perfectly good governess, he finds himself more and more drawn to her.
Clementine finds a strong rival in the outgoing Alexandra for the affections of Zachariah, and although it turns out that Alexandra is the legal recipient of the legacy she causes a scandal in the district when a former man friend turns up to claim her affections with an ultimatum.
The past catches up with the family. Intruders enter the house bent on murder. Despite their terror, the children try to save Clementine from harm and Zachariah arrives in the nick of time, knowing that he cannot live without them.
Severn House - May 2014 - 84,000 words.