I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Untamed Earl (Playful Brides, #5) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #5
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 3rd 2016
“Being fifteen years of age an a bit plump and unconventional when one’s elder siter was eighteen years of age and willowy a ethereal — if waspish — was decidedly unpleasant.”
FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series, THE UNTAMED EARL benefits from a sweet romance between two people who are overlooked, underestimated and unappreciated by others but find something special in one another.
THE STORY: At fifteen, Lady Alexandra Hobbs feel in love with a “knight in shining armor” who saved her brother and his friend. The object of her affections is Lord Owen Monroe, a rake who leads a life of drink, gambling and women. Three years later, Alex discovers that her father, the duke, has chosen Owen to marry Alex’s older sister who happens to be a genuine shrew. Owen has to marry because his father will cut off his allowance if he does not convince the duke’s eldest daughter to accept his match. Alex wants to sabotage Owen’s courtship so she offers to groom him into the man Alex’s sister will want to marry while intending exactly the opposite.
OPINION: I loved the couple in this book. Two people who are overlooked, misunderstood and underappreciated by their families find something special in one another. Alex has always been placed second to her older sister. What she wants doesn’t matter in the face of her older sister’s wants. Alex makes a break when she becomes determined to sabotage the engagement of her sister to the man that Alex has wanted since she was fifteen. Through the story and the romance, Alex discovers that she matters and what she wants matters. Owen has also been misunderstood by his father. Because his father does not think much of him, Owen has tried to live up to his poor reputation. In his heart, however, Owen is a good man which Alex recognizes quickly and thus sets her heart toward this “hero” rake. When Owen agrees to marry Alex’s sister, he does so because his father threatens to cut off his allowance, but also because it gives him an opportunity to finally satisfy his father. The need for parental acceptance is strong with Owen even as he denies that desire. For Owen, his journey is being his own man without the desire to satisfy or thwart his father.
In a plot that at times is funny, at times frustrating and at times horrifying, I loved how Alex and Owen find acceptance, strength and purpose in their relationship.
WORTH MENTIONING: The story has a passing feeling of being inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew even though there are not really strong parallels. The shrewish older sister that must be married first, mixed up romances and some comedy gives this a Shrewish feel without being derivative.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE UNTAMED EARL is the fifth book in the Playful Brides series. It can be read as a standalone although other characters from the series appear.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.