The Untamed Earl (Playful Brides, #5) by Valerie Bowman

This series, which is based on classic plays, just gets better and better. This entry is based on “The Taming of the Shrew.”

The Untamed Earl Front Cover (St. Martin's Paperbacks)

The Untamed Earl Front Cover (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)

THE PLOT: Alexandra Hobbs has loved Owen Monroe since, as a 15-year-old girl, she saw him rescue her little brother from bullies. Now 18, Alexandra learns that her and Owen’s parents plan to arrange a marriage between him and Alex’s unpleasant older sister, Lavinia. Owen’s father is forcing him to marry Lavinia if he doesn’t want to be cut off. The catch is, Alex’s parents want Lavinia to want to marry Owen, so he’s got to convince her. No easy feat since Lavinia was deathly ill as a child, so her parents have spoiled her into becoming a self-centered, unpleasant shrew.

To sabotage the intended union and spend some time with Owen herself, Alex offers to give Owen lessons on winning the difficult Lavinia over. As a trade, Owen has to help Alex overcome her wallflower status and grab the attention of the man she loves (of course, he has no idea that he himself is the man). The two become good friends as Owen gives Alex lessons in waltzing and flirting, and Alex happily misleads Owen on any fact that might help him build a relationship with Lavinia. Eventually Owen realizes he’d be more than happy to marry Alex instead, but her parents insist that Lavinia, the older sister, must marry first. Owen’s father insists that he man up, stop drinking and gambling, and settle down with Lavinia. And Alex doesn’t want Owen to settle for her; she wants him to love her.

MY TWO CENTS: Up until now, my favorite “Playful Brides” book was The Unlikely Lady (reviewed here), but The Untamed Earl may overtake that spot. I LOVED this book; it was just darling. Alex is an adorable heroine who knows what she wants and tries like crazy to get it. Owen’s been dismissed as a loser by his own father, so it’s up to Alex to convince him that he’s really the hero she fell in love with, the one who rescues young boys from bullies. I really rooted for Alex, and for Owen to become the man she wants him to be.

Lavinia is another matter entirely. I wondered if, like Katherine the shrew, she would turn out to be a sympathetic character with her own love story. I’m still not sure that she shouldn’t get her own book someday. I wondered for a bit if she was destined to be courted by Christian, Lord Berkley, who might be her “perfect knight.” But it looks like Christian will have a different heroine in the next book.

And this wouldn’t be a “Playful Brides” book without some interference from Lucy, Cass, and Jane. Owen is Cass’s brother, so of course she gets involved; and Lucy comes up with a typical convoluted plan that only makes sense to her; and Jane sits around reading, eating tea cakes, and telling everyone else the plan is ridiculous. (I LOVE Jane.)

BOTTOM LINE: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Such a cute story with likable characters; it’s competing with The Unlikely Lady for my favorite in the series.

TEACUP RATING: Five out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available May 3, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Christian’s book, The Legendary Lord, will be available November 1, 2016.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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