Review: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate StrohmThe Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by Sky Pony Press on April 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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two-half-stars

Cass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.

But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. The leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Eww! Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, though, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: she’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But will her plan backfire as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage?

Many eons ago, I loathed a book by Stephanie Kate Strohm. Weirdly, though I’m usually very forgiving, I was so angry at it that I never wanted to touch her books ever again. Past Christina’s good opinion once lost was lost forever apparently. Present Christina knows that bad books happen to good authors and gave Strohm another try. The Taming of the Drew has some problematic elements, but also has a super awesome ship and A+ banter.

The Taming of the Drew has the makings of a really excellent romantic comedy, the sort that I could see translating really well to a made for TV movie. Like a DCOM but raunchier. Some aspects hit perfectly, like the ship and the banter, but other elements of the novel fall epically flat, which is why my rating is as low as it is, despite the great ship. The Taming of the Drew could have used a heavy edit.

So heavy in fact that a whole plot element completely needs to go. There’s this whole skater boy subplot. Their summer Shakespeare takes place in the same town where a group of professional skateboarders are practicing. The lead hot skateboarder, Taylor, serves as Cass’ second love interest. He needs to go. While I’m actually a supporter of love triangles in theory, this is an example of where they go wrong. All the skater boys speak in annoying slang, and they add nothing good to the plot. In fact, Cass’ interest in Taylor and some of what she does with him completely goes against the rest of her characterization. Absolutely everything about this subplot sucks.

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Speaking of unnecessary love triangles, Amy’s crush on Drew also should have been edited out. The drama that adds does nothing for the plot, especially since it only causes one dramatic scene. There are other ways for Drew and Cass to have a more realistic falling out. Amy and Noah had chemistry in the first couple of scenes that then proceeds to be completely ignored so that a second love triangle could be added. Love triangles aren’t necessary to keep a couple from getting together when they’re at each other’s throats like Drew and Cass are. It would have been so much more meaningful to watch that evolve naturally.

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At this point, you’re probably wondering why the fuck I even liked this book when it has so many terrible missteps. Well, as I said, the ship and banter totally rock. Maybe I should have rated this 2.5 stars, but I was really into it because hello ship trash. Cass’ voice sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, because she can be a bit all over the place. Only with Drew does she really coalesce into a consistent character, which hey maybe that’s a sign that the book needed to be reworked without all the over-the-top love triangle drama but who am I to know?

The reason that I liked this book despite everything going against it can be summed up in two words: SHAKESPEAREAN BANTER. You guys, I am so for angry flirty hate-to-love, Shakespeare-referencing banter. That is my jam. When Drew and Cass are together, the novel really comes together into the nerdy delight I’d hoped for.

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With more focus on the gender-swapped retelling aspect in place of the skater boy nonsense, this book could have been truly great banterfluff. I love the idea of taming a dude shrew, as opposed to the massively sexist original version. The secret prank war on Drew is fun, and the stuff that rom coms are made of. I also really liked the way that plot line resolved and, given the needless drama of most of the book, it really surprised me too. Aside from that, I really wouldn’t say that The Taming of the Drew actually serves as a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It takes it’s inspiration there, but it would be a stretch to say that Drew is Kate and Cass Petruchio.

Despite all of it’s major flaws, I liked The Taming of the Drew and it kept my attention throughout. I just can’t help wishing for the book it could have been, rather than what it ultimately was. It’s worth reading only if you’re willing to overlook a lot of horrible bits to get to the creamy bantery center.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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2 responses to “Review: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm”

  1. Oh wow this sounds interesting. The taming of the Shrew was my favorite. And this book has Shakespeare banter too…. I really wanna read this book, despite the inconsistent and unnecessary parts you mentioned in your review.

    Aparajita @Le’ Grande Codex
    Aparajita Basu recently posted…Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1 & 2My Profile

  2. Ugh this book hahah. I wanted to love it and it just annoyed me so much. I did love Drew, and his banter with Cass. That was the saving grace for sure!

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