The Husband Trap
by Tracy Anne Warren, historical (2006)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-48308-1


Tracy Anne Warren's debut historical romance The Husband Trap is a good twin/bad twin story. Don't worry if you knock yourself in the head while reading this book and forget that there are twin sisters in this story because the author will not let you forget that Jeanette Violet Brantford is pure and sweet and all that is holy compared to her twin sister Jeanette Rose Brantford. Our heroine is called Violet to distinguish her from Jeannette, by the way.

Jeannette is supposed to marry Adrian Winter, the Duke of Raeburn, but she has a boyfriend on the sly and she definitely doesn't want to marry Adrian. However, because their father has already used the marriage settlement to clear his debts, Jeannette decides that she can't call off the engagement so the best thing she can do is to have her favorite punching bag and doormat, Violet, to pretend to be her and marry Adrian. Violet, who is mousy and everything that Jeannette isn't, agrees to do this because she's in love with Adrian and she doesn't want to bring the family down.

So, Adrian soon discovers that his sweet wife is just a stigmata away from being a saint. Violet rescues dogs in need, she is malleable and submissive, she can be trained to be a firecracker in bed, and she is a democratic Duchess who treats the household staff as if she is their best friend. Of course, the paradise that is Violet's blissful wedding to Adrian can't last when her deception inevitably blows up in her face.

Oh my, throughout the story I am told again and again how good and perfect Violet is compared to her cartoon bad twin sister that I wonder whether I need some kind of twin sister complex to appreciate this story. The whole "Violet is sunshine and all that is good! Jeannette is so bad!" thing is just overkill, as is the constant and tedious reiteration of Violet's virtue. The truth is, I find Violet a bit of a wet blanket, what with her constant willingness to be bullied by Jeannette and all. She doesn't seem like a character as much as a bag of one-dimensional niceness. The story is told mostly from her point of view, so poor Adrian comes off like a rather superficial fellow who wants to marry the beauty of the season despite her reputed flighty nature and is pleased that the wife turns out to be so undemanding and agreeable after the wedding.

There isn't much else in this story other than the good twin sister/bad twin sister agenda Ms Warren is pushing down my throat. There is also a perplexing attempt by Violet to figure out whether she can trust Adrian late in the story that I don't know what to make of since she's the one entering the marriage under false pretenses. Then again, by that point it's pretty clear to me that Violet isn't the smartest person around.

The good thing about this book is that it is readable. But it pushes very heavily an agenda of acceptable female behavior as a plot and it's one that doesn't appeal to me since I'm not the kind of person who gets off on reading stories that seem to exist only to beat me in the head about the virtue of the heroine.

Rating: 56


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