It Takes Two to Tangle
by Theresa Romain
(Sourcebooks, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4022-8399-4
***
Henry Middlebrook, injured war hero, has decided to find a wife and his sights are set on beautiful widow Caroline, Lady Stratton, who is the current sensation of the Season. Wanting help with his suit, Henry attends a ball and enlists the aid of Caroline’s companion, her widowed cousin Frances Whittier. Frances agrees to help Henry, and they share an intelligent and friendly conversation before the evening ends.

Frances makes the mistake of writing a letter to Henry, telling him that she enjoyed their conversation and hopes they will meet again. She doesn’t sign her name, and Henry believes the letter is from Caroline. Encouraged, Henry begins calling on Caroline regularly, but slowly becomes more captivated by Frances.

This story took too long to get going, and the plot felt a bit thin. The only thing keeping Frances and Henry apart is her refusal to tell him the truth, plus an overabundance of pride on both their parts. For all that, I liked them both. Frances has a prickly shell, but her past keeps her guarded, as the reader discovers later in the story. Henry has lost the use of his right arm and is learning to do everything left-handed, and he has his own feelings of unworthiness to get past. Their hesitation is understandable, but it takes too long for them to get past it.

A refreshing character is Caroline, who is generous and loving toward her cousin where she might easily have been set up as a selfish shrew. She’s not really interested in Henry and would love to see her cousin happy. And the addition of an odious rival, one who intends to bring Frances down, acts as a catalyst to the story. Caroline as a defender of her cousin is a delight. She deserves her own story.

It Takes Two to Tangle features entertaining characters and an interesting plot that might have been wrapped up in fewer pages, but still makes for a good read.

--Cathy Sova


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