The Wife He Always Wanted
Author: Cheryl Ann Smith
Rating: B-, 3 Stars
What I’m Talking About:
I want to like Cheryl Ann Smith’s novels. She steps out of the box and mixes Victorian period romances with decent mysteries.
My struggle is that in every book I’ve read of hers one side of the story or the other suffers, The Wife He Always Wanted was no exception.
It starts out strong. Rough and rowdy cowboy shows up at the door rescue the struggling and starving maiden and sister of his best friend, except he isn’t a cowboy–he is a gentlemen, and off they go on an adventure to find love in a marriage of duty. Pretty typical historical romance and Ms. Smith did a fine job with the romance side of the story.
Sarah is sweet and it is fun to watch her come into her own as she learns to be a wife, a lady, navigate society and seduce her husband.
Gabriel is kind and caring and works hard to be a good husband as he works through a few issues of his own. All-in-all they are charming couple to watch, with a family full of interesting characters that adore them both. This in and of itself would have made a fine novel but between the family references and the mystery of Sarah’s father’s death in the mix things got mucky.
First, The Wife He Always Wanted is the last book in a series. I now have read two of the five books in the series, and it was frustrating for me because throughout the book there are references to things that have taken place in the past. While these issues were likely addressed in other books and clearly relate to the character or characters presented at the moment, I felt a bit lost and only got veiled references or a hint, but nothing solid. I don’t need a complete retelling, but I feel like more information into their back stories would have been helpful to catch me up.
Second, The mystery of Sarah’s father is dealt with throughout the book, but her brother and his past is never dealt with. We know he died in America, but never do we get so much as a flashback to tell us what he was like with Sarah or Gabriel or what happened to him in America other than he died. Given that this is last novel in the series this feels like a massive oversight to me.
Finally, in the mystery of Sarah’s father, parts of this were done extremely well. For example, I had no clue who the true bad guy was until the end, and I appreciated that The Widow and Mr Brown found peace at the end of the book as well. They were secondary characters and easily could have been forgotten, but they weren’t, which I felt was important because you come to know them and their story fairly well throughout the book, another thing Ms. Smith does well. When she introduces you to a character she lets you know them, so long as they don’t already have their own book. Then she forgets you might not know them as well as you’d like and, sorry I digress.
My one big issue with the Mystery in this novel was the pace. It seem to go SOOOOOOOO slow for so long and then BOOM it was resolved. Maybe that is how things actually work in Mystery world, I don’t know but I didn’t care for it. I felt like a more steady course with more hints throughout would have been better.
Over all The Wife He Always Wanted was an OK ready. I’d give it a B-. It wasn’t average but it wasn’t stellar either. The characters were engaging and the story line worked. I enjoyed the chemistry and the teasing between Gab and Sarah, and the secondary characters added a nice flavor to the overall story. If you are looking for something nontraditional in the historical romance world then this should do the trick, but I would seriously recommend starting at the beginning of the School for Brides series rather than jumping in at the end like I did.
3 stars: Liked it, but I had some issues (B-)
About the Book:
Sarah Palmer is impoverished, desperate, and alone. Her father was murdered years ago, and her only sibling is now dead. When an unkempt man turns up on her doorstep, he claims a friendship with her late brother, and the desire to fulfill her brother’s dying wish that they marry. Sarah sees no other solution for her situation but to wed the roguish stranger.
Although it’s not apparent from his gruff appearance, Gabriel Harrington comes from one of London’s finest families. However, he is not the man Sarah’s brother intended her to marry. Overcome with guilt at his hasty lie, Gabriel must begin a life with the chilly Miss Palmer, who appears content with their passionless marriage.
But Sarah is not as immune to Gabriel as he thinks. Driven by the desire to learn the truth behind her father’s murder, and committed to a make her unexpected marriage successful, she fights to win Gabriel’s affections. Once he begins to see the passion in her, he isn’t that hard to convince…
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Series: School for Brides #5
Genre: Historical Romance
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
The Wife He Always Wanted (Book 5)
Reviews in the Series:
Convenient Bride (Book 4)