- Mass Market Paperback: 331 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (July 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425190927
- ISBN-13: 978-0425190920
- Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 3 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,138,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Chloe de Guibray was left as an infant on the steps of the convent and has little knowledge of her parentage. Now she has risked everything to travel to England where she believes the answers lie. She's passed herself off as one of the "brides" and winds up as their leader of sorts and a thorn in Sir Hugh's side. She's not afraid to stand up to him even while worrying that he finds her "objectionable". As the days pass, she wistfully contemplates how much she and the grumpy (but handsome) Hugh have in common, but his rigid beliefs preclude friendship of any sort - or anything else for that matter. What a shame . . .
The dutiful, brave, intense and gruff Hugh resents his mission and is rather unpleasant to the ladies in his care. It surely seems to the maidens that the testy Sir Hugh hates women, but that's really not the case. Hugh was raised in a monastery and in typical old church style, was taught that women are responsible for the lust that men feel and thus, should be avoided at all costs if one is not to be corrupted. Well, Hugh's thoughts of Chloe are certainly of a corruptible nature and have him confessing his impure thoughts as soon as they arrive at Windsor (his confession was hysterical in its detail and enumeration!) Still, it was nice to see a man with a strong moral compass (perhaps too strong!) for a change. But will Hugh let his dedication to the church eclipse his growing feelings for Chloe? And, much to Hugh's frustration, the King seems to keep throwing he and Chloe together commanding that they jointly determine which maids will marry which nobles. But is someone trying to keep the marriages from happening - to the point of endangering the "brides"?
On the negative side, I felt the pace was a bit on the slow side and you'll likely find yourself wanting to strangle Hugh - you've never seen a man fight his attraction so hard! A big positive is Chloe. She's a really terrific heroine - smart, open-minded, plucky, kind and patient (Lord is she patient!).
A thoroughly enjoyable and recommend read!
Having been taken prisoner after the French had lost the Battle of Crecy to the English, the Duke of Avalon (or more accurately his family) is now expected to pay a huge ransom before he will be allowed to go free. Except that the duke has already been stripped of nearly everything by the Edward III, and has little left to offer. A chance remark by his jailer gives the duke an idea. He is the patron of the Convent of the Brides of Virtue -- a convent that takes in and educates young ladies from noble familles in order to prepare them for marriage. The duke's plan is to legally adopt four such young ladies and pretend that they are his illegitimate daughters and to present them to Edward III as potential brides for his nobles.
And so he immediately sends word to the abbess to select four young ladies to pass off as his daughters. The abbess on the other hand is livid. Not only does the duke expect her to be party to his fraud, but he also expects her to provide the dowry for his 'daughters!' Reluctantly, the abbess decides to play along and she selects four young ladies of impeccable background to become brides to these English lords. What the abbess doesn't know is that Chloe, a young foundling who is being trained to become the abbess's right hand, has overheard everything. Chloe longs to be married and to have a family, and she also desperately wants to find out who she really is and who her parents were. And so Chloe concocts a daring plan that will allow her to accompany the young brides to England. A natural leader, Chloe doesn't anticipate too much trouble with maintaining her pretense of being the abbess's liaison between the young brides-to-be and the English. What Chloe didn't reckon on was the infuriating Sir Hugh Sennet, who has been specially hand-picked by his king to see to the ladies' safety. If ever there was a man put on earth to torment her, it was Sir Hugh! And for a young woman who has her own mission to accomplish and may secrets to hide, Sir Hugh with his eagle eyes, suspicious mind and irritating bad humour is exactly the sort of person she should avoid...
I liked "The Wife Test" for its story and for its heroine. True, it is the kind of novel where it takes the hero FOREVER to come to terms with his true feelings for the heroine, but it was (also) the kind of book that helps you while away the hours and relax without making you feel as if you've wasted an afternoon on overindulgences. Chloe was a wonderful heroine, and I thoroughly enjoyed it when she stood her ground and triumphed over the bad tempered but (clearly) tantalised Sir Hugh over and over again. In fact reading about how Chloe coped with everything, from trying to find the right husbands for her friends, to dealing with the maddening Sir Hugh and his various humours, as well as other threats to her well-being is what "The Bride's Test" a truly worthwhile and enjoyable 4 star read.
Escorting the `maidens' party to England was the ill-tempered, intense and very gruff Sir Hugh de Sennett whose ill will toward women was notorious - and most probably why the King, who was known to enjoy a jest or two, thought Hugh would be the perfect escort and later assistant `wife tester' along with Chloe. Raised in a monastery since the age of five by monks, Hugh did not hold the female population in any type of esteem at all - likening the whole lot of them to instruments of the devil whose sole duty was to corrupt all men! AND in his mind, the leader of this pack of females, Chloe, had to be the worst - why else couldn't he erase the image of her azure-blue eyes, and long white legs, from his mind! Chloe, who'd been brought up under the resolute abbess of the convent of the Brides of Virtue had enough spunk to probably be about the only woman that could make Hugh see that the brainwashing he endured in the monastery truly did taint his outlook at womankind. Hugh had to decide whether he truly was a `hypocrite' to his beliefs, or that what he had learned in the seminary was not necessarily the rules that should be applied to men `outside' those hallowed walls.
Krahn's very entertaining sequel to THE HUSBAND TEST - which stands completely on its own - quickly turns into an, exciting adventure and battle of the sexes. The story mixes terrific characters, humor, sensual anticipation, and the mystery of who and why someone wanted to harm the brides, into a delicious blend of creative and skillful writing. Chloe, whose courage, spunk, and a very high threshold of `forgiveness' (so much to forgive!) and understanding for Hugh - who managed to stay a self-righteous prig through out most of the novel - is a heroine to love! The one factor that saves Hugh from being a total jerk was discovering how his childhood and upbringing gave him such a skewed up outlook on life. I was totally entertained from start to finish and absolutely howled over Hugh's `confession' of his immoral thoughts towards Chloe! With terrific secondary characters, subtle wit and humor used in the dialogs, and very creative plots, I find that this author is fast on her way to becoming an `auto buy' for me! (...)
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