Friday, October 26, 2012

The Unlikely Wife by Debra Ullrick

Let’s begin with the summary:

A Woman in pants! 

The arrival of Michael Bowen’s bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He’s been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman! 

Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael’s letters, even if she couldn’t read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that “friend” left things out, like Michael’s dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won’t change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.

And now, my review:

I think readers tend to get used to a certain type of heroine in historical romances. We’re used to women in lovely dresses (or at least some kind of a dress) if we’re talking about the 1800’s. Imagine the groom’s shock when he’s been corresponding with a woman who comes across as classy, elegant, and refined,  yet a woman in trousers with an uncultured vocabulary shows up. What a shock. Worse, they’re already legally bound in marriage. They married by proxy because they were each sure they knew the other person. 

As with book one, I liked the nobility of the hero. He didn’t just have the marriage annulled as soon as he saw her. I like how the author wrote outside the box by not giving us the usual heroine. But I didn’t find it believable that the heroine was immediately in love with the hero (from their letters, no doubt). He certainly wasn’t perfect, and naturally his adjustment period made him a bit grumpy. I felt that plot development could have grown over time. (the heroine falling for the hero)

I would have liked to see more evidence that he needed this kind of challenge in his life so he’d change. (A supposition put forth by the other characters in the book—that Michael needed to be more flexible.) He didn’t strike me as rigid and impossible in book one or here in book two.

I also didn’t care for the heroine’s misunderstanding of embracing one’s identity and not being willing to change or grow up. How could such a tomboy expect a man to fall in love with her? What straight man wants a wife who acts like another man? She does eventually change a bit, as she tries to please her husband. But I still found her too rough around the edges and too prideful to be likable. The hero and heroine came into agreement that he'd work the ranch, and she'd help him by caring for things in their house. The scene where she thinks serving odd foods to her husband is okay seemed far-fetched and didn’t help me like her as a character, especially since he’d already told her he wanted usual food, not frog legs, crawdad tails, etc. I also would have liked to have seen someone correct her language. The repeated use of "iffen" (for "if") started to wear on me by two-thirds of the way through the story.

I think readers who like heroines who are outside the box will love this story because all the other elements were strong. And though the heroine was a tomboy, there was still romance between the hero and heroine as they each adapted and accepted the other. And isn't that how relationships/marriages work?

  (e-book format)

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