Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: A Worthy Wife (Novella) by Barbara Metzger

A Worthy Wife (A Novella)

Author: Barbara Metzger

Purchase on Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Side Note: Given by the publisher, Untreed Reads.

Synopsis: Aurora Halle McPhee, a girl of humble (some might say unconventional) background, cannot believe her luck when she is betrothed to the dashing, well-bred Harland Podell. Aurora soon learns, however, that the match is too good to be true when the nuptials are interrupted--by the brother of the groom's wife!

Kenyon Warriner, Earl of Windham, is determined to foil that bigamous bounder Podell, before he disgraces another innocent female as he did Kenyon's own sister. The earl will save Miss McPhee's honor.

Even if he must wed her himself.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Review: I am not a fan of ridiculous romance stories where the female characters are blinded by the beauty of the male characters and cannot help but fall madly in love at first sight (Gag!) But I do enjoy romance, just with spark and tension and honesty. Enter A Worthy Wife, between laughing hysterically and blushing at some of the more intimate moments between the two leads, I had a wonderful time reading this short novella!

Aurora is a young girl from a small town with barely any money to her family’s name and an innocent view on love. She’s giddy with excitement and nerves since it’s her wedding day to the handsome, Harland Podell. But just as the wedding is beginning, a man by the name of Kenyon Warriner, bangs down the door and stomps down the aisle, declaring the wedding cannot happen. Apparently, Harland Podell is a scoundrel of epic proportions since he’s attempting to marry Aurora while still being married to Kenyon’s sister! Harland is captured and kept under lock and key, bound to be sent back to his homeland of Jamaica where apparently, his real first wife’s family will be waiting for him. Poor Aurora is left at the altar, her reputation completely ruined and her heart shattered. While not if Kenyon has anything to say about it. He decides right then and there to marry Aurora, knowing the honorably duty must be done or Aurora will be shunned and unable to find a husband. Aurora to both her surprise and her family’s, accepts to marry Kenyon. But marriage isn’t exactly what Aurora thought it was going to be like and Kenyon discovers his innocent, little wife, has more sass than he bargained for.

Aurora was a sweet character. She has a big, loving heart and there is an innocence and vulnerability to her. But underneath that shy, quiet exterior is a girl who is more than willing to kick some male stubborn butt and face dangers most other women would faint over. She grows in confidence as the story progresses and learns to believe in her own worth better. Kenyon is stubborn as rocks! He is arrogant, wealthy and ill-tempered. But he also has a soft side to him. He’s honest, reliable, honorable and kind. In so many ways he is the opposite of Aurora and that worked out well for their new found marriage.

There is a good amount that happens throughout the story. Jumping right into a sudden marriage, Aurora completely forgot about the wedding night but Kenyon is all too happy to remind her. Except Aurora is having none of it much to Kenyon’s confusion and frustration. She refuses to consummate their marriage until they know each other better, no matter the amount of time it takes. I like that Aurora stood her ground and never gave in. No matter how much Kenyon tried to entice her or win her over, she spoke her own mind. She didn’t want to jump into a bed with a total stranger, even though she had jumped into a marriage with one. Aurora learns quickly from the impulsive decision and knows she wants a husband who will truly love her for her. Kenyon has no idea how to handle Aurora. He’s always confused by the way she reacts to things and what she does. It was incredibly funny to see his lack of understanding. He may know how to seduce a woman but not one with her own mind and who can be as stubborn as him.

The story moves along to Aurora finding a secret truth about her family that may end up destroying her new marriage before it’s even had time to settle. Kenyon’s family also enters the picture and they are not so thrilled he married some random girl from the country. Brianne, Kenyon’s sister, lacked class and maturity. I enjoyed Aurora putting her into her place ;) There’s also Lady Anstruther-Jones. She’s not family but the town gossip and can find information faster than a trained police dog. I also loved Ned! He is the little homeless boy Aurora decides to adopt without consulting her new husband and he’s just so cute! He’s also mischievous and very clever.

As for complaints, there are few. The pacing progresses while enough but the second half happens too fast. The reader isn’t given much time to really enjoy and grasp everything that happens within the story since as soon as something is solved, something new jumps right in. There was also an excessive amount of detail in a lot of scenes where it weighed down the fluidity of the story. I also became rather frustrated with how much of the story is TOLD to the reader which dampened the experience. 

From Lady Anstruther-Jones giving Aurora a crazy, untamed monkey, to Brianne and Aurora heading to the rescue of another poor girl who was hoodwinked by Harland Podell and winding up nearly getting shot, to bringing home the robber who tried to rob their carriage because Aururoa accidently shoots him, to Kenyon’s son coming home and his brother returning from the war, the novella is filled with action and suspense. Aurora must learn how to balance Kenyon’s family, her new adopted pets, Ned and home while working to solve who her real family is and what exactly happened to her parents when they died.

It’s a story filled with intrigue, wonderfully built humor, an honest romance and absolutely ridiculously fun characters!

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or Gail Carriger, you will definitely find yourself falling in love with these characters and their story! Fans of Regency-era England or old-fashioned romance will devour every word! 

Note: There are a few sensual scenes in the story. Although they are not overly graphic and are done tastefully, I would recommend no one under the age of sixteen to read.

Fun Moments From Inside A Worthy Wife

“Jumping to her feet, she stamped her foot. “I am not crying because I am not the real Aurora Halle McPhee, you dolt. I am crying because I am married to an autocratic, overbearing, unfeeling brute who didn’t even think to tell me that we have a son. I am crying because the man I thought was almost perfect is actually a pompous prig who doesn’t trust me enough to know who I am.” She pounded her fist on the top of his nearby lap desk. Then she flipped the lid back, knowing what she would find. She reached in and pulled out the proof. “You don’t believe me, you don’t approve of me, and you don’t even like me enough to admit that you wear spectacles!” ~Aurora

“If you drop me at the hotel, I shall ask the first gentleman I see to escort me to the dining room. I hope it’s that tobacco merchant.”

“What, the dirty dish who tried to look down your décolletage as we were leaving? I almost called him out then and there! Besides, supper with that shabster would destroy whatever reputation you might ever hope to have.”

“So would my husband’s visiting his former mistress in public view not three days after our wedding. We are still married in the eyes of the church, the law, and these thousand people. Unless and until you prove that I am not Aurora Halle, I am Lady Windham, your wife. You did swear to honor me at that ceremony, didn’t you? Well, there is no honor in shaming me before all of London.” ~Aurora and Kenyon at the theater

“I am beginning to get annoyed, boy-o,” the behemoth bellowed when Kenyon came at him again, this time with a blow to the breadbasket. Chubb grabbed him again and held him off the ground, at which Aurora decided it was time to act. She could feel her stomach lurching and refused to let her husband be vanquished while she vomited. So she picked up the nearest thing to hand, the stage pistol that had been used in the last act, and began beating Chubb about the knees, since she could not reach his brain box, which was too small a target anyway. The pistol went off in a harmless cloud of smoke and dust, but creating more panic in the onlookers. Aurora almost swooned herself, thinking she’d shot her husband. But Kenyon roared, landing a solid clout on Chubb’s ear, which caused the giant to drop both the earl, who banged his head against the table, and Lola, who fainted dead away. Aurora kept clubbing at Chubb with the gun. He raised his fist to brush her aside, but Ned leaped onto his back, placing his hands over the bully’s eyes. “Kick ’im in the privates, m’lady!” the boy shouted, so she did. While Chubb was doubled over, Windham coshed him over the head with a wooden chair, just in time for the Charleys to come haul him off.” ~Aurora, Kenyon, Ned, and Chubb (the guy threatening Kenyon’s ex who played a part in the play at the theater)

“I am more and more impressed with you, missy. Might even leave you something in my will.”

Lord, not the weapons collection, Kenyon prayed. Heaven alone knew what mayhem Aurora could create with an arsenal.” ~Kenyon and Lady Anstruther-Jones

“Until his lordship returns,” she told the maid, the same as she had told Aunt Ellenette and the other servants, “I am in charge. If I declare supper be served in the wine cellar, I expect Lady Brianne to be there. And do not think to cross me in this, to carry trays or fix meals yourself, for I write your pay check, not Mrs. Podell.” ~Aurora


Some expressions sound better between the pages of a novel than in real life. “Stand and deliver” was one such phrase. Hearing the words, and the gunshot that followed, was not thrilling, the way it was when one was at home, reading by the bedside candle. It was terrifying. Nialla started to scream.

The shot, or her screams, frightened the horses, who tried to bolt. The driver cursed and shouted, fighting for control of the cattle. The guard would have fired back, or would have helped with the reins, but Maisy had thrown herself into his arms at the first sight of a pistol-waving, masked horseman in their path.

Brianne was leaning out the window, shouting encouragement to the driver. “Outrun the dastard, Oliver. Mow him down. Shoot him, for heaven’s sake!”

Since it was obvious that the driver, Oliver, could barely keep the horses from galloping off the road, Brianne was in danger not only from the highwayman but from falling out of the careening carriage altogether. Aurora tugged on Brianne’s skirts until her sister-in-law sat back down, clutching the overhead strap to keep from being tossed around the interior of the coach. “The bandit is going to overtake us in a minute,” she reported. “His horse is an enormous gray.”

All they could do was sit and wait, holding on to each other and Nialla, who was clutching her cat’s basket as if it were a life ring, and sobbing, of course.

“Well, at least he won’t get the Windham diamonds,” Brianne crowed.

“No, but what about the Benton jewels?”

Nialla sobbed louder.

Aurora was feeling around behind the cushions and under the seat, looking for somewhere to stash the velvet pouch they had rescued from the moneylender. A determined high toby man would search, she knew, but she could not tamely hand over Nialla’s fortune.

Her searching fingers touched something hard, something deadly.

“A pistol? Excellent! Now we can give the muckworm a taste of his own medicine. Hand it over, Aurora.”

“What, give you the gun? You could barely see the highwayman’s horse!”

“But I wouldn’t be sitting with the thing on my lap, waiting to be ravished and robbed!”

“Ravished?” cried Nialla, falling off the carriage seat in a dead faint.

Aurora grabbed for the cat basket before Puss landed on her head. Moving as quickly as possible, she raised the basket’s lid and stuffed the velvet jewel pouch inside with the frantic cat, who clawed furrows in Aurora’s new gloves. Aurora moved even faster, shutting the lid.

Then she tucked the pistol in her pocket, hoping the skirts of her carriage dress would hide the bulge.

“Is it loaded?” Brianne asked.

Aurora hadn’t thought to look. For that matter, she didn’t know how to look, or where.

She’d never handled a pistol before in life. She just nodded. There was no reason to frighten Brianne more than necessary.

As the carriage was coming to a halt, they could hear the highwayman shouting to Richard, the guard, to throw down his weapon, or be killed. They heard the thud and Maisy’s cries. Then the would-be robber yelled, “You inside. Come out with your hands raised or I shoot your driver.”

Aurora nodded to Brianne, who opened the door and slowly stepped down. Aurora followed, her hands elevated, and stood close beside Brianne, so the pistol’s outline wouldn’t show. “Our friend has fainted,” she told the man who faced her, his gun now pointing straight at her chest. “But she has nothing for you anyway.”

The man was tall, but not so tall as Windham, nor so broad in the shoulders. Between the mask over his eyes and the hat pulled low over his forehead, Aurora could not discern his coloring, but what showed of his complexion seemed fair and smooth-shaven. His clothes were dusty but well-tailored, and his top boots were in the highest kick of fashion. Either he was truly one of the gentlemen of the road, or he was a very successful bandit, Aurora decided.

“My, my, my. This is my lucky day. Two beautiful young ladies out for a drive. I wish I could just steal kisses, my lovelies, but I do have to eat. It’s your reticules I’ll be having first, then.”

“Here, you varlet.” Brianne tossed hers at his feet. “Much good it will do you, being as empty as your brain box if you think you can get away with this. My brother is—ooph.”

Aurora had shoved Brianne from behind, before the gudgeon could reveal their identities and have them held for ransom. Not seeing the tree branch in her way, Brianne stumbled and would have fallen, except the highwayman caught her and held her against his own chest to steady her. Brianne raised her fist and struck him in the jaw. No ladylike slap, the blow sent his head reeling. “How dare you, sirrah! It’s bad enough that you accost innocent wayfarers during the daylight hours, but to prey

on defenseless women is beneath contempt. I am sick unto death of men who take advantage of women and then leave them broken and bruised.”

“I only wanted to put some food in my belly, miss. And I had no way of knowing you were three females.”

Hearing laughter in his voice, Brianne was not mollified. First Podell, then Nialla’s heartless father, now a masked man trying to steal their last shillings, was all too much. “Shoot him, Aurora! Shoot the dastard before he bothers another female.”

The highwayman finally took his eyes off the magnificent auburn-haired beauty who was so bravely, so buffle-headedly raging at him. He looked up, into the muzzle of Aurora’s pistol.

“I wouldn’t do that, my lady. My own weapon is aimed right at this beauty’s heart, you see.” He held Brianne’s arm in his free hand so she could not escape, though she did continue with her curses until he said, “What a tongue you have, my lady. You should put it to better use.” He pulled her closer and kissed her quickly, ending her harangue with a gasp. Then he told Aurora,“Yes, it would be a great waste to shoot your friend.” ~Chapter 17, pgs. 80-81

About the Author: Barbara Metzger is the author of over three dozen books and a dozen novellas. She has also been an editor, a proof-reader, a greeting card verse-writer, and an artist. When not painting, writing romances or reading them, she volunteers at the local library, gardens and goes beach-combing and yard-saling. 

Her novels, mostly set in Regency-era England, have won numerous awards, including the Romance Writers of America RITA, the National Reader's Choice Award, and the Madcap award for humor in romance writing. In addition, Barbara has won two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine.

Where to Find the Author

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