The Shrew That Tames (novella) by Michele Stegman

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Katherine is an heiress who uses her shrewish tongue to keep fortune hunters away. What is it about Lord Ashfair that leaves her speechless?

Although in need of money, Peter Monroe, Marquis of Ashfair, has resolved to restore his ravaged estates on his own. How can he convince Katherine that he wants her, not her money?

Publisher and Release Date: Breathless Press, March 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency London and the English countryside
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Lately, it seems I’ve read several romances based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Sabrina Darby recently published two novellas and, last year, Christy English’s How to Tame a Willful Wife also played on themes of the Bard’s great play.

The Shrew That Tames by Michele Stegman, a new to me author, is a funny, delightful, and clever novella. Elegantly written, with a very likeable hero and heroine who are kindred spirits, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Katherine Driscoll and her younger sister, Bianca, are heiresses and are held to the terms of their late father’s will in that Bianca cannot marry until Katherine marries first. The problem is Katherine, an educated and intelligent bluestocking, has never met a man she feels worthy of her valuable time and attentions. She’s a no-nonsense, independent, and organized woman who smoothly runs her small household with her mother and sister. I think her reputation as a shrew is misconstrued, in the usual way of men merely gossiping about a strong-willed and independent woman.

Peter Monroe, Marquis of Ashfair, is a man of science and knowledge. He’s also impoverished and needs money to save his beloved childhood home, Ashfair Manor, from falling apart. At the beginning of the story, his best friend, Sir Anthony, encourages Peter to consider marriage to Miss Katherine Driscoll, the daughter of a successful tradesman with a duke somewhere in her background. But Anthony also happens to be desperately in love with Katherine’s younger sister, Bianca. If Peter will marry Katherine, then Anthony can wed his beloved Bianca.

Peter is a perceptive man and is immediately suspicious about Anthony’s intentions after raving about the attributes of this spinster paragon, Katherine. Well, Anthony admits, Katherine has scared away most of her suitors because of her sharp tongue and wit. But when Peter learns that Katherine often attends scientific lectures and will be at the same lecture on electricity that he also plans to attend, this intrigues him. It couldn’t hurt to at least meet her.

And so begins Peter’s pursuit of the hard-to-please and fascinating Katherine. I really admire Peter’s canniness in anticipating Katherine’s wishes, especially in the lecture scene when he notices that she is impatient to get inside and he promptly offers to escort her in. He is observant of her moods and desires and this makes him most appealing (and intriguing) to Katherine.

For her part, Katherine finds herself attracted to Peter’s good looks but also to his enjoyable conversation, his sincere interest in science that mirrors her own, and how he doesn’t fawn over her or offer empty compliments. This unnerves her but she isn’t a ninny about it either. When circumstances arrange their marriage, Katherine surprises this reader yet again. She fully plans to take control in this marriage. I like Peter’s determination to stand on his own two feet as a man despite his own depressing upbringing by his scapegrace father. He wishes to earn Katherine’s respect and, after a few little humorous bumps, he succeeds admirably.

Though this story is very short, the familial closeness between Katherine and Bianca and their mother is nicely captured. And I also like the loyalty and devotion of Peter’s servants, who know all about the Monroe family history and its dysfunctions.

Peter and Katherine’s romance is sweet, passionate, and lovely to read and becomes a marriage of true partnership, friendship, and love. Their conversations are charming and witty, especially when Peter is aware of Katherine’s mood.

As I prefer in my romances, there are several amusing moments especially upon their first meeting at the lecture hall, their wedding day, and their wedding night. Because the story is so short, I cannot divulge too much information!

Ms Stegman’s voice is beautifully spare and she conveys emotions in the story well. I would love to read
more of her historical romances in the future.

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