Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29882-2
Historical Romance, 2016
Our 21-year old heroine, Joanna Sollers, is an orphan currently under the care of a merchant blacksmith, who only wants to be rid of her ASAP by marrying her off. She however is in love with that knight Sie Roger Danby, because he is so handsome and hot and… and… well, she’s been allowing him some stolen kisses, but she isn’t sure, though, whether she’s ready for that yet. Nonetheless, she’s been sneaking off – alone, of course, because the whole thing is a big secret, sssh – to see him, and it is during one of these sneaky-peaky moments that she meets Hal, Roger’s bastard brother, who is also the blacksmith in the title.
Well, Hal is hot and handsome, plus he’s so hot in that he’s pushy, rude, and he also “smirks” – my favorite word when it comes to heroes, did I tell you that? – at our heroine like only a romantic alpha male would. When Joanna finds herself wedded off to the wrong brother. will the two of them be able to forge a together forever that doesn’t involve passive aggressive antics, surly scowling, and a complete refusal to communicate coupled to a perpetual willingness to jump to all kinds of wrong conclusions about the other person?
Reading this book, I’m tempted to say that the answer is no. Oh, alright, the two of them pull an Oprah at the last chapter or so, after making me wonder for so long whether I’d like to see them thrown into a vat of cow dung or be trampled by a bunch of buffalos. Now, I know it can be hard for a stereotypical “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk I’M RUDE PUSHY AND ALPHA SO I AM A MAN, ROAR!” alpha mule like Hal to accept that he’s married a woman solely to advance his prospects and that that woman may be in love with his brother, or that it can just as hard for an immature dingbat incapable of making any decision that is right for once to try to figure out what is going on when nobody is spelling things out to her, but come on, the endless series of sulking, refusal to talk, and all seem like too-obvious contrivances to keep the story going.
I mean, why is it so hard for Hal to accept that he has – shocker – married for convenience? What, it’s never been done before? And is it so difficult to just let Joanna know that Robert is not what she thinks he is? Then again, given how he is incapable of deviating from the “Nyuk Nyuk, Bro!” formula of alpha mule behavior, maybe she won’t even listen if he tries. As for Joanna, she has very little common sense, and she acts like she’s the only lady who has to marry someone she doesn’t love in her time, and hence, she is the unluckiest one ever. How did these two get to be as old as they are while remaining apparently unaware of the customs and rituals of the people of their time? They seem like present day American teens transplanted into medieval England and they just cannot fathom what is happening to them as a result.
The Blacksmith’s Wife is one annoying excursion into the land of communication breakdown, big and small misunderstandings, and other tedious clichés – only to have the hero go, “Oh, oops, so the wife is not the whoriest whore of Whoreywood. Never mind, I’ll be better from now on!” in the last chapter. Yes, and I’m going to wake up tomorrow to find a billion dollars at the foot of my bed. Feel free to read this if you have a pretty decent tolerance for such conflicts, while everyone else may want to find something else to read.