Substitute Wife by Rachel Lindsay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Be careful what you wish for. When a person makes decisions without considering the emotional cost of those decisions, they usually backfire. Such was the case with Adam's decision to marry his secretary, Julia. He was trying to show his lover that he wasn't her whipping boy, content to continue in their affair indefinitely so she could get her inheritance as dictated by her late husband's will. Julia was dealing with her own hurt feelings after she was dumped by her fiance shortly after he took a job in Canada. She had no expectations for her marriage to Adam, and she didn't want a love match anyway. However, they both end up falling in love, and are afraid to show their feelings for each other.
This was a subtle book, with a lot of intense undercurrents. I was kind of surprised that the hero had been having an affair with a married woman. And how she was willing to live with him and even have children with him out of marriage for the time period until her husband's will allowed her to marry. This was written in the early 80s, and it is a Harlequin--so that was an eye-opener. But, the way that the author deals with these unconventional aspects is so matter-of-fact, it doesn't really come off as risque. I liked that the heroine is the more self-controlled out of the couple. The hero isn't a lit fuse, but he does let emotions dictate his behavior to a larger extent than Julia does. He truly is susceptible to his ex-lover for a significant part of this book, although he doesn't cheat on Julia. It was nice to see how he realizes that his feelings towards Julia are much more right and intense than his feelings for his sex-girlfriend were. There's a bit of his POV, but his actions towards Julia reveal when he falls in love with her, outside of his POV. Of course, Julia is oblivious, thinking that she's just a mere substitute for the woman that Adam truly wants. Her father was a womanizer who continually left her mother and made her life miserable, so she has no faith in a strong emotional attachment to a man, especially one who is dynamic and virile, like Adam. However, she falls deeply in love with him, even knowing it's the worst thing she could do. Finally, she gets the epiphany that makes her want to fight for his love. Will it be too late? Of course not. This is Harlequin, where the endings are always happy. And I'm always glad for it. Recommended to readers who enjoy vintage books.
View all my reviews >>