Dear Ms. Warren:
Your stories benefited from a 3 book release one month after the other. The series started with The Husband Trap which featured a twin swap. I don’t like Twin Swaps so I skipped it. The second book, The Wife Trap, featured the villian of The Husband Trap. The villian was the twin sister, Jeanette, who convinced her sister to marry the Duke of Raeburn so that she could run off with another man. I like redemption stories so I started with this one and figured if I liked it, I would get the first book.
Jeanette is sent to rusticate in Ireland with rural cousins. It is a fierce punishment for someone who loves parties, clothes, and the social scene. There is no one to socialize with at all. Jeanette and Darragh O’Brien meet and are at loggerheads. It doesn’t help that when Jeanette arrives at her cousins’ house construction is underway to repair a portion of the manse burned down. Darragh is the architect and he starts work at 7 am each morning. This is an outrage to Jeanette who is used to getting up at 9, 10 am. Jeanette undertakes several subvervise attempts to get Darragh to delay the start of construction. While this is cute, the resolution to these episodes ALWAYS ends with Darragh having the upper hand, whether it results in Jeanette being humiliated or Jeanette being punished. The overwhelming theme to this romance was that Darragh had to teach Jeanette how to be a better person. I wasn’t sure if Darragh was supposed to be her father or her lover or whether he was just one sick puppy.
Further troubling the plot is that this is another “secret” romance where the relationship of the hero and heroine is predicated on untruths. The hero is an earl but the heroine believes that he is a commoner. (wait, did I read this in the form of Kiss Me, Annabelle). The hero seems charming enough until he pulls this card:
Aye, she was a minx. Wild and willful. Whatever man decided to take her on, he'd have a devil of a time taming her. He'd have to be careful not to use too heavy a hand, gentling her to his touch and his will without breaking that proud, beautiful spirit of hers.
What, is she animal? Where is the obligatory reference to Jeanette as a filly? I think minx is so pale of a comparison to the filly. I still am willing to give the book a chance. I read on and the story begins to fall apart. Jeanette has a secret too, one that could impact the course of their relationship. She doesn’t tell it until it is too late. Darragh is even worse. He goes to extreme and unreasonable lengths to keep his secret hoping that Jeanette will fall in love with him for who he is instead of what he has. The basic premise behind the secret identity is ridiculous because Darragh, as an earl and landowner, is shaped by those life experiences and thus by deceiving Jeanette about his identity, he is deceiving himself about her true love.
In the end, I couldn’t finish this book because of the manner in which Darragh began to treat Jeanette. Perhaps she was so evil in the previous book that she deserved this treatment but I hadn’t read the previous book. Series books must stand on their own or they fail. Darragh takes it upon himself to make Jeanette into a better person by placing her in a small cottage where she must do everything for herself. Dress herself, bathe herself, cook for the BOTH of them (I would have let him starve). Darragh’s expectations – that Jeanettte could learn and adapt in just days – is unreasonable and paternalistic. Who is he to teach her anything? Jeanette must learn on her own, change on her own. I didn’t want read any further justification for Darragh’s actions.
Yes, I didn’t finish the book. I tried. Oh, I tried. But I kept looking at the page number wondering when in hell will this ever end. Instead of prolonging my agony, I cut it off like a sick appendage at Chapter 17 to make the body whole because if I had finished it I am sure that I would have been put off reading romances for a month. I did it for a greater good.