Tiger By The Tail
Forget that old Buck Owens song. Tiger By the Tail may be a well used title, but between the covers of this particular book you will find a read that is not only engrossing, but touching and humorous as well.
Melisande Mooresby, otherwise known as the She-Devil of Mooresby Hall by the local townsfolk, finds herself to be in need of a husband immediately. A woman who believes in the rehabilitation of criminals, she heads to the local prison to find someone who will marry her for a short while. The only man with the slightest bit of promise – and all of his teeth – in the local lock-up is Scottish born William Taggart, newly returning from the Americas. William, finding his options limited, jumps at the offer, and surprises himself by following through with the marriage. Melisande and William are approaching their marriage differently, however. Mel wants it over as soon as possible, and William has decided that Mel is just the wife he needs.
There were a few things about Tiger By the Tail that I found irresistible (title non-withstanding). Mel is such a well-rounded character – she is domineering, decisive, impatient, and smart. She has run her family home since she was able, and does not think anyone else is as capable. Her strengths and flaws are out there for us to see, and her vulnerability is demonstrated so well that she is easy to sympathize with.
The hero is not as strong. William is hard to get a handle on – he is tender sometimes and aloof at other. He’s considerate and then the opposite, all without rhyme or reason. Mel is such a strong character that William comes off as much weaker, even though he does have a few strong moments. Although William is the one whose nickname is Tiger, I honestly think that the nickname is more descriptive of Mel.
This book both had me laughing and in tears – a feat not easily accomplished. There were secondary characters to like, such as Mel’s grandfather and William’s father, and rather odd ones, such as William’s best friend Wildcat – part Scot, part mountain man, part Native American? Who can tell? Finally, although Mel and William’s story is absolutely delightful at times, the final line of the book left me cringing – “She laughed and cuddled closer. ‘Ah my ferocious Tiger. It seems I’ve tamed you at last.'” Like we all didn’t see that coming? There are some temptations that authors should just resist, don’t you think?