Friday, August 3, 2012
Review: His Secondhand Wife by Cheryl St. John (5 stars, Frontier)
Full Description: Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thoughts After Reading:
I'm always a sucker for sweet, slightly heartbreaking love stories, and Cheryl St. John's His Secondhand Wife doesn't disappoint. Set in the American West during the end of the 1800's, the book tells the story of two people who seem to be such polar opposites, yet come to have the two exact same desires: to be loved and to give the other person everything and more. It just takes the entire story for them to get there. The novel itself is on the short side, at just over two hundred pages, yet it seemed to be an ideal length for the book - enough to infuse plenty of emotion in the relationship without drawing out angst and unhappy feelings indefinitely.
Both the hero and heroine are people that very much deserve a HEA. The heroine is one of those people who are good to the core, and just as optimistic. She never takes anything for granted and enjoys the simple things in life of sunrises and picnics. She's often talkative because it's just her nature to be an open book. The heroine's had a hard life growing up, between an unloving mother and working as a washerwoman since she was young. So when the hero's brother swept in with his handsome looks and promises of a better life, she married him eagerly. Only, it turns out the brother was a no-good, son-of-a-bitch. He marries the heroine because it's the only way to get her in his bed, and leaves a couple of weeks later full of false promises. Fast forward three months, and the storyline opens with hero telling the heroine his brother died. When pressed to share the details, he admits the brother was killed by a cuckolded husband. The hero easily draws comparisons to the "Beast" half of the Beauty and the Beast theme. He became seriously scarred as a young boy, and has had to deal with shame from townspeople, his stepmother, and - to a lesser extent - his father. As a result, he has socialized at a very minimal level ever since the accident. He runs his extensive ranch, but tends to be reticent to an extreme and spends much of his time alone. His views, when shared, tend to be pragmatic and just shy of pessimistic. However, the hero plans on taking care of his brother's widow and his resolve only strengthens when he finds out she's pregnant. They eventually marry, to give permanence to their situation. Although small misunderstandings about each other's feelings abound as the story progresses, they slowly but surely get closer to their HEA. The hero falls effortlessly for the heroine's beauty and sunny outlook, trying his best to give her a happy life even as he wishes he could be the handsome, charming man she first married and deserves. The heroine, meanwhile, yearns to feel needed and involved in a a family. It's not hard for her to value the hero's excessively good heart over his superficial scars and gruffness, so her love steadily increases as the hero let's her in to his emotional shell.
I read over the reviews at Goodreads after finishing Cheryl St. John's His Secondhand Wife, and related easily to each of the overwhelming positive comments. It is a novel comprised of deeply endearing characters, a gently straightforward romance, and was overall satisfactory to an extent that is difficult to achieve.