Sunday, December 11, 2005
The Husband Test, The Wife Test and The Marriage Test by Betina Krahn
Having read The Husband Test by Betina Krahn last month and thinking it was okay, I just couldn't help myself and had to read the rest of the trilogy! I wish I wasn't so pedantic about this, but I just can't help myself!! It worked out okay because I thought both The Wife Test and The Marriage Test were better than The Husband Test.
At the beginning of The Husband Test we find ourselves at the Convent of the Brides of Virtue, a convent where the daughters of impoverished or orphaned noblemen are sent in order to be prepared to marriage. Brides from the convent are highly valued, although a lot of the time the new bridegrooms find themselves in circumstances that do not necessarily allow them to choose their own brides. Enter Peril, Earl of Whitmore, nobleman of England whose lands are cursed and who needs a bride of great virtue to be able to lift the curse, and he needs her right now. The only problem is, he doesn't have the ready cash to be able to pay the dower price, so the Mother Superior decides to send a tester to check that Peril meets the requirements of a suitable husband for one of her coveted brides.
The Abbess decides to send the lovely and spirited Eloise, mainly to get her out from under her feet and from causing too much trouble. Eloise is a young woman with lots of ideas on how to improve things, often with disastrous results. Eloise is sent off to judge Peril, but soon find herself being far from impartial.
I quite enjoyed The Husband Test, although there were a couple of scenes that were just too silly for me to really enjoy. I also didn't quite fully engage with Peril and Eloise as a couple.
Not too long after reading The Husband Test I was at the library where I found both of the next books in the trilogy, and because of the aforementioned pedanticism (?) I decided that even though I hadn't loved THT, I had to read the sequels.
The Duke of Avalon has been captured by the King of England and has unfortunately got no funds in order to be able to pay his ransom. In a flash of brilliance, the Duke tells Edward that he actually has four, hitherto unrecognised, daughters and that he would be willing to marry them off to Edwards favoured nobles as part of his ransom.
Hugh of Sennet is duly sent off to collect the four brides and their chaperone. Hugh is a monkish man who's future was once clearly defined as being in the church, but with the death of his brothers he is now heir to his father's titles, albeit reluctantly.
Chloe of Guibray tricks her way into the entourage as the chaperone, and after various adventures finds herself at the court of King Edward having to devise some tests to decide which nobles to pair up with her brides. Of course she thinks that she will take the oldest, strangest and ugliest of the nobles, but it seems that fate has different ideas! Part of her reason for wanting to make this journey is to find out who she is as she was left at the convent with only one word that gives her any clues as to her true identity.
The Wife Test was a much more satisfactory read for me. Hugh starts off as being quite anti women, mainly due to erroneous teachings whilst undertaking his training, but gradually he begins to understand, and want Chloe more than he thought possible.
And finally I read The Marriage Test. The abbess of the convent has been spoilt for several years as young Julia of Childress has shown herself to be an amazing cook, and the Abbess is determined not to give her up for anything or anyone, no matter who they are. In order to do so, she is determined that Julia should take her Holy vows and soon. Unfortunately, Julia has other dreams. She wants a husband and a family, not a life in a convent.
Griffin de Grandaise has been born with an extremely heightened sense of smell, and therefore finds it difficult to be able to eat a lot of the food that he is served up, especially if there are any disgusting smells in the vicinity. Griffin hears about this amazing cook at the convent and sneaks in to see if the food can possibly be that good. Once he finds out that it is, he tries to gain the services of Julia from the Abbess.
After a great deal of negotiation it is agreed that Griffin can keep Julia for one year, on the condition that she is returned to the Abbey after that time with all of her virtues in tact. But with Julia determined to gain a husband, preferably Griffin, is that going to be possible.
This was a really fun read, and Krahn even managed to make medieval food sound enticing!
The Husband Test 3/5
The Wife Test 4/5
The Marriage Test 4/5