This was the first book by Ms. Malvey that I have read. I picked it up because of the previous, positive reviews. Although it is not offensive or completely horrible, I did not enjoy it and ended up scanning the last third of the book.
It is loosely based on the Taming of the Shrew, a story about two daughters and the bargin their father creates to insure that both marry. The oldest, Elizabeth, is not a shrew but a young woman who is uncomfortable in society and extremely shy. The younger Catherine is very sociable and a flirt. She has had many offers of marriage while Elizabeth has not one suitor. Since their father is worried that Elizabeth will not marry and find happiness, he dicates that Elizabeth must marry before Catherine, or neither will marry.
Enter two brothers - the older one, John, is the head of his household and shoulders everyone's responsibilities while his rakish younger brother Richard is looking to turn his life around.
So the mixed-up matchmaking begins, and the story centers around which brother will end up with which sister (although it was very predicable from the beginning). A little mystery is is thrown in to pad out the rest of the story.
One of the many problems I found with the story was the supposed "age" of Elizabeth and Catherine. The prolog is set in 1828 when the girls are 15 and 14. Then the rest of the story takes place in 1830. So we have a story about 17 and 16 year old girls (who definately don't act their age). In the prolog the father has declared that the girls will not have their first season until the age of 17. So why are both girls out? And how is the 16 year old Catherine so socially skillful? She seams to have the grace and poise of someone with more experience in the "ton" and not just enjoying her first season.
The story overall is too predictable and seems more appropriate for a teenage audience. There is one "sex" scene included, but is completely out of place and seems pasted into the story.
If you are interested in this concept - Julia Quinn's The Viscount who Loved Me is a much better read with witty and enjoyable dialog that is written for a more mature audience (people over the age of 21). I would definately pass on this one.