Definitely better than the first book. The heroine, Isabelle Thornton, is a member of the ton, but she gave up her life of luxury the night her father killed her mother in a fit of rage (more mental illness breakdown than long-term abuse). She re-invents herself as Becky Thorn and works for the Blake household as a lady maid and eventually lady's companion (her employers were the heroine and mother from the first book). However, work as a lady's companion isn't as fulfilling, so Becky takes a job as a governess in the Christie household, working with two kids who are deep in grief and anger over losing their parents and living with asshole Uncle Stephen. Uncle Stephen (aka Lord Hastings) is the hero and takes a lot to get used to. He changes a lot during the story, and repairing his relationship with his niece and nephew does make those changes visible to the reader.
I like this book for a few reasons.
1. The relationship takes place over months rather than days. Although Becky and Stephen have major insta-lust five days after her arrival, there is time to get to know one another and the kids.
2. The kids were real and not just plot moppets. Their father was killed in the war and their mother committed suicide - the kids were the ones to discover her in the weapons gallery with a bullet in her head. Little Lydia uses an imaginary friend to speak to and listen to others around her and Max has full on anger issues. Both Stephen and Becky work to reach these kids and offer them affection and stability.
3. The friendship between Phoebe (heroine in book one) and Becky. The friendships between the men. The series really has a strong network of friendships and family.
4. Becky rescued herself from the kidnapping. Stephen finds her after she made her escape from her captors.
There were some parts I was not really into - mostly it had to do with the villain. Just like in book one, the author uses attempted rape against the heroine (complete with the hero showing up just in the nick of time to stop the rape) to prove the hero's love. And the villain here was as cardboard as the one in book one. Lack of hygiene? Check. Fat or unshapely? Check. In desperate need of money/heir? Check. Her villains are very cookie cutter. There was no resolution to the head housekeeper's involvement with the kidnapping. It seemed to just be forgotten. 3 stars and I am thinking about continuing with this series.