Review: How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English

 

Title: How to Tame a Willful Wife

Author: Christy English

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously gorgeous.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?


Review:

I had high hopes for How to Tame a Willful Wife, and I was left disappointed for one reason; I didn’t like the hero, and he never won me over.  Caroline, on the other hand, was a fun heroine, full of spunk and not willing to just sit around and wait on her overbearing husband.  She was overindulged as a child, and allowed to explore life in her own way.  Her father, a rough and crusty sort of guy, saw no problem with his daughter learning how to wield weapons and learn to defend herself.   The world wasn’t a safe place, after all, what with all of the conflicts going on around them.  Raised by fighters, Caroline is unrepentant that she isn’t a girly type of a girl.  Her mother is less than thrilled, and constantly harps on her to grow up and act like a lady, but Caroline is too stubborn and too independent to listen.

One of the things that I liked about her was that despite being a rough and tumble girl, she was always aware that she had a duty to uphold.  Her reputation was everything, and she tried not to bring any embarrassment or scandal to the family.  After her hasty, unwanted marriage to Anthony, whose wealth saved her family from poverty, she finds that nothing she does is good enough for her husband.  She’s not allowed to be herself, and he expects her to conform to his idea of the perfect wife.  No more riding aside, no more weapons lessons, no more, well, FUN, and Caroline doesn’t like that at all.  What I didn’t like was that Anthony expected her to change who she was, without making any changes to himself.  He still intended to carry on as before he was married, with his wife tucked away at his country estate.  He would continue his own pursuits in London, and that included visits to his mistress.  While that might have worked in Shakespeare’s day, it didn’t work for me.

My greatest disappointment with the book was my least favorite plot device, and it’s one that’s used too often in YA novels.  The hero has made a terrible enemy, an awful man who ruined his younger sister.  Instead of explaining the situation to Caroline, Anthony becomes evasive and refuses to tell her why she must stay away from one of the only friendly and welcoming people she’s met.  Why, why, why must she never speak to Lord Carlyle?  By not treating Caroline like an adult, by not being upfront with her, all he did was push her into danger.  Carlyle is a smooth operator, always kind and helpful, more so than her husband.  I found Anthony annoying and thought Caroline deserved better.  I did enjoy the author’s writing style, and hope that the hero of the next book in the series is a little more likable for me.

Grade:  C+