Wow. I was so surprised I didn't like this. Just to check if I was merely in a bad or off reading mood, I paused for a bit from reading this and re-read a bit of "The Duke and I". It enchanted me, just as it did before, and reminded me why I loved JQ. Then I went back to this Smythe-Smith book. Blegh. The writing isn't as tight. The dialogue is more like filler chatter than anything particularly witty. The best line of the book was something about having a misunderstanding with an anvil. After that I was going "Blah, blah, blah, get on with it! C'mon, something happen!"
The bad guy felt like a one-dimensional character. And the girl's reactions didn't make sense. After your life gets ruined because of [that spoilerish thing that happened], shouldn't you be a little wary when a similar situation arises, even if it's with the hero of the book? And her young charges weren't delightful, unlike, say, the dynamic among the Bridgertons. Sadly, that series is going to remain my benchmark. And the Smythe-Smiths pale in comparison.