The Wife Trap

The Wedding Trap by Tracy Anne Warren
(Ballantine, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-345-48310-3
The Wedding Trap features a good hero and heroine, good secondary characters and good sexual interplay throughout. However, it features a plotline that has been written before, with nothing new. This ultimately lessens the enjoyment of what could have been a pair to come back to often.

Eliza Hammond is a wallflower who has been under the thumb of a boorish and prudish aunt her entire life. She is pretty but has been forced to wear dowdy clothing. She is intelligent, but has not been allowed or encouraged in any of the social graces. Despite this, she has a friend and ally in Violet, the Duchess of Raeburn, who has been her friend for years (obviously springing from an earlier book). Eliza has just surprisingly inherited a fortune from her aunt, who spurned her son to give Eliza the money. Now with a fortune, her four disastrous seasons are behind her and she is ready to find a husband. She is slightly in love with Violet’s brother-in-law, Christopher (Kit) Winter, who sees her as a friend.

Violet convinces Kit and Eliza that Kit would make a great mentor for Eliza, schooling her in the social conversation skills she needs. Kit is also known for his fashion sense, so he ends up hiring people to provide Eliza with a complete makeover, from her hair to her clothes. He is also supposed to guide her in her choice of a husband from the many men expected to vie for her hand.

In this oh-so-familiar plotline, the many expected things occur. Eliza is a hit. She is deemed beautiful and her shorter hairstyle is now a craze. She is besieged with gentlemen callers, one of whom is none other than her cousin, Pettigrew, whose advances she denies, with help from Kit. Now she also has an enemy. When a few of Kit’s friends start following after Eliza, Kit’s reaction is predictable…he is jealous yet denies his attraction could be love.

Meanwhile, Eliza falls more deeply in love. Their “courtship” is long. The author carries this theme out to its nth degree, and then she brings in lust. Now they have to contend with lust as well as denying the “love” word. The sexual tension heats up in the last third of the book and makes up for not having much in the beginning. But again, it is all too familiar a tale. Kit denies his love until forced by a crisis to recognize it and then he must convince Eliza.

I really liked Kit, despite his denseness over his feelings. He was a bit of a wastrel, but definitely connected to Eliza, showing us humor, fun and a sense of caring. Eliza was smart, albeit naïve, and enjoyed her ability to blossom and do things she had never been allowed to do. They went about like a courting couple, but were also friends first, laying a good foundation for their relationship. There are many scenes where one can see their love growing. Then we are treated to a series of events that stand in their way, with both being a tad to stubborn to fight the barriers. Then when you think they are on the right track, history repeats itself.

Kit and Eliza were well matched and when in the courting/non-courting mode, they were engaging and fun to read about. Their sexual antics were hot. Their friends added to the tale. But, ultimately, the usual occurrences and the inevitability of the crisis were a little too much to overcome. The Wedding Trap, although somewhat enjoyable, doesn’t provide two very good characters with much of a story in which to shine.

--Shirley Lyons

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