The Husband Trap
When I got The Husband Trap, I looked at the anachronistically coifed young lady on the cover and began to read, not expecting much. I was soon captivated, spent a dark and stormy night reading away and finished the book at one long sitting. It begins with one of the hoariest of plot devices (twins who swap places), and several other farfetched incidents happen during the course of the story as well. But the heroine was a delight and the story both fast paced and exciting.
Warren’s debut begins with a wedding. The Duke of Raeburn, Adrian Winter, is marrying Jeannette Rose Brantford, the most beautiful girl of the whole season and the diamond of the ton. Or so he thinks. Actually the silly spoiled Rose has been carrying on with another man and doesn’t want to tie herself down. Rose may be silly, but she knows she can’t jilt the duke outright since her father spent the marriage settlement on his gambling debts. So Rose persuades her identical twin sister Jannette Violet to take her place. Violet is quiet and shy, is used to being bullied by Rose, and has loved Adrian for some time. She agrees and goes through the ceremony with her heart in her throat.
Adrian is pleased to have married such a beautiful woman and feels she will be an asset to him as a hostess. During their engagement, Adrian had fleeting thoughts that Rose was a bit shallow, silly and selfish, but since he was dazzled by her beauty, he put those thoughts out of his head. Adrian is pleasantly surprised to find that Rose has matured. She doesn’t seem to mind that they can’t go abroad for their honeymoon, she rescues a poor abused dog at an inn and treats his servants with respect and kindness. As the weeks go by, Adrian falls in love with his wife’s intelligence and kind heart as well as her beauty, and puts her change in character down to the maturing influence of her marriage. For her part, Violet is more deeply in love with Adrian than ever. But when Adrian’s brother Kit comes home, he discovers Violet’s real identity. She persuades him not to tell his brother, and even though she finds it more and more difficult to keep up the charade, she is determined to do so. Then Rose comes by for a visit.
Violet is a wonderful heroine. She and Rose may be identical in appearance, but they are polar opposites in personality. Rose was always outgoing and everyone forgave her bad temper and sulks because she was such a pretty thing. Violet was always shy. Unlike the rest of her family, she enjoyed learning and absorbed much more schooling than her brother when she sat in on his lessons. Since society much preferred the pretty, silly outgoing type of girl, Violet always stood in her sister’s shadow.
Adrian can’t compete with Violet’s presence in the book. Since we see most of the story from her point of view, he isn’t as vivid a character. He comes across as a bit of a stick – a nice enough man, but not all that observant. I can suspend my disbelief pretty well when it comes to most outlandish scenarios, but I couldn’t help but think that Adrian should have figured out that his wife’s change of character was caused by something more than just settling down in marriage. He is capable of strong anger and is bitterly hurt when he finds out the truth about his wife. But he doesn’t descend to jerkdom and the happily ever after scene is a very happy one indeed.
This is the first in a trilogy of books. The next one is The Wife Trap which will feature Violet’s sister Rose. Given that she was such a despicable character, it’s going to take some serious repentance on her part to make her a decent heroine. The last book, The Wedding Trap, will feature Adrian’s brother Kit. As I’ve said before, I have a love/hate relationship with Regency lite books. When they are written well, I love them very much and The Husband Trap is a good example of Regency lite done right.