by Tracy Anne Warren, historical (2006)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-48309-X
The characters in The Wife Trap are like two spoiled children pulling at each other's hair that I am far from amused as a result.
Jeannette Brantford, the twin sister who started all the foolishness in the previous book, is exiled to her elderly cousin's home in Ireland. She whines, flounces, and shrilly complains all the way through a broken carriage and an encounter with a rude - if cute - brute, from London to Ireland, only to learn that the cute brute is Darragh O'Brien, her neighbor. Darragh is actually the Earl if Mulholland but he insists of working with his tenants at least long enough to make his point about loving Honest Living. Needless to say, Jeannette doesn't know that he's an Earl. The tomfoolery will culminate in a marriage between Darragh and his "Little Rosebush" before a second round of tomfoolery commences.
This book can be roughly divided into two halves. The first one, before the wedding, sees Jeannette running around acting like a really spoiled hoyden. The thing is, though, as irritating as she can be, I find Jeannette a far more plausible character than the fairy tale hero Darragh the Democratic Earl who likes to muck in the mud in the name of Honest Living and Noble Peasantry everywhere. How does Darragh reconcile his hypocritical disdain of the aristocracy with his embrace of his own title and privileges? It's like a son of a rich oil baron calling himself an environmentalist after a month of handing out PETA brochures to patrons at the local Starbucks. The author is trying to point out that many noblemen are spoiled and useless while at the same time conforming to the formula that the hero needs to be a nobleman. It all doesn't add up here, unless the purpose of the whole story is to have the reader gloat along with the author as the hero patronizes and teases the heroine about her unruly ways like a Victorian moralist tea party in action.
The second half is where Darragh takes over the role of the resident irritant from Jeannette as he insists that Jeannette must not go back to England because Ireland is her home now. This is pretty much a case of the husband saying that his word is law and the wife giving him the finger as a result. Again, there is not much show of maturity from both parties concerned and everyone is just going through playground drama.
The only good thing about this book is that the author has Darragh telling Jeannette at the end that they need to start over again because they have both made a mess of their initial relationship due to their combined obstinacy and refusal to compromise. I think I will be happier reading their second time around because The Wife Trap only gives me a headache.
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