Sunday, July 10, 2005

Good Book Alert

First, a hearty thank you for all the birthday well wishes. Honestly, I'm feeling pretty good about it all. Between the hair cut (4 inches - poof!), seeing my sister and getting jewelry from The Boyfriend it wasn't a bad day. Rubies have a way of cheering a girl up - well this girl anyway.

For those keeping score on The Boyfriend's excellent gift giving skills, the "rubies" are a pendant necklace, earrings and ring. A lovely set, I assure you.

I also just wrapped up a very good book this evening - but then again it was written by Cheryl St. John and I'm beginning to think the woman is incapable of writing a dud. His Secondhand Wife is a July 2005 Harlequin Historical title.

Noah Cutter has just learned that his younger half-brother is dead. While Noah loved Levi, Levi had a bit of a reputation. When a jealous husband shoots you after catching you in bed with his wife - well, it doesn't say much about your character now does it? So Noah goes to collect Levi's body, only to discover that he was married. Not only did he eventually abandon Katherine, he left her pregnant.

Noah feels obligated to take Katherine in, and since her only other option is to keep slaving away in a laundry and living with her shrew mother, she accepts his offer. Determine to earn her keep, she is stymied by the life of privilege she now finds herself living. Noah is a very successful rancher, although he's a hermit of sorts. Horribly scarred in an accident he has distanced himself from others. However he soon finds himself wildly attracted to Katy, and he's not sure what to do about it. I mean, he's not smooth, confident and charming like Levi. He's damaged goods and doesn't know the first thing about women.

I tend to whine a lot about the current state of American historicals. Pamela Morsi and Susan Wiggs have succumbed to The Dark Side (OK, women's fiction) and Maggie Osborne had to go and retire! But we still have St. John, and if you aren't reading her books - um, why not? She has a knack for writing the sweetest love stories and crafting likeable characters. The love scenes in this story are particularly poignant, as Noah is afraid he'll either repel Katy or make her feel pity for him.

In turn, Katy wants to feel needed and useful to Noah - but he keeps brushing her off. Not because he doesn't need her, but because he's determined to care and pamper her.

St. John also writes credible villains - mostly nasty mother characters that never become tedious. There's always a flipside to them. Here it's Levi's mother (Noah's stepmother) who mourns her son, is always concerned with propriety, and dismisses Noah because he's not her son. But you know, she's not rotten to the core. By the end you really understand how and why she is the way she is.

I strongly recommend this one. While not a keeper on the level of Prairie Wife, this is still a very nice read. My final verdict? A very solid B.


Tara Marie said...

I've got my book journal out and am writing down "The Sechondhand Wife" and "Prairie Wife." I've never read Cheryl St. John.

You're not kidding "The Dark Side", they skipped right passed contemporary romance and went to women's fiction--eek.

Nicole said...

I really need to read her. I think she's also a fairly local author around here. Or at least in the same state. lol

I've just heard so many good things about her books.

Jay said...

They had sex while she was pregnant? With his brother's baby? Not that I have a problem with that mind you - pregnant chicks need sex too - that just seems a little more out of the box than I would think Harlequin would be down for.

Wendy said...

Well the brother was such a philanderer that I didn't find it that "outside the box." Now if the brother had been a decent guy, that would be another matter entirely. Harlequin probably wouldn't have been down with that *g*

Kristie (J) said...

Hey Wendy: Great minds think alike! I just blogged on the same book - and liked it too.
What does the boyfriend have to say about Doc Halliday. You gotta feel for the guy - and the Jays. He was on his way to a Cy Young year.

Wendy said...

The Boyfriend has been unable to muster up much enthusiam for the Jays this year - but he religiously follows Doc. So when he got injured, it just about broke both of our hearts. It's always a shame to watch a guy have a good year (thus far) only to suffer from a freak injury like getting hit with a ball!

Not only is his Cy Young contention now up in the air - but he very likely would have started the All-Star game. A total bummer all the way around....

sybil said...

I am so going to pick this up tomorrow! You and kristie had great things to say about it and I am a HHwhore.

American historicals!!! Pamela Morsi and Susan Wiggs!!! Ohhhhhh rec's please and thank you! I haven't read either author, oh wait I read Charm School I think and it was eh.

Wendy said...

I was eh on The Charm School as well, and many readers count that as a favorite. Go figure. Here are my recs:

Pamela Morsi: Simple Jess and Courting Miss Hottie

Susan Wiggs: The Horsemaster's Daughter (sequel to TCS), The Hostage and The Firebrand (books 1 & 3 in her Chicago Fire trilogy).

Both have extensive backlists that I'm working through, so these lists are a work in progress. Hopefully :)

Kristie (J) said...

I'm only so so on Morsi but a couple of other Wiggs titles I really liked where The Drifter and The Lightkeeper

Cheryl St.John said...

I enjoy your blogs already, Wendy, but now you're writing great things about my books, too! HIS SECONDHAND WIFE was a story I'd had on the back burner for a while--a tortured hero just simmering in the recesses of my mind...and on the pages of a notebook. That's what I do with first ideas, jot them down in a notebook, sort of stream of consciousness thinking. (Thank goodness for spell check.)

Thanks for the great recommendation. FYI, I just finished a novella for the '06 Spring Brides anthology, and it's Charmaine's story. She was in HSW, and is SWEET ANNIE. She's Annie's cousin. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I got the chance to give her the next too-good-to-be-true man she was waiting for.

Pam Morsi's Americana's are among my very favorite books! Right up there with LaVyrle Spencer and Lorraine Heath and Kristin Hannah--and those early Laura Kinsale books. :::sigh::: Where have all the good ones gone?

Hey! I have a book to recommend, too! I haven't figured out all the hot links, though--you had links to my webpage and to the Hussy Hub!

If this works, it should take you to my blog about RUNAWAY MISTRESS. It's a contemp, but not chick lit, which was what the cover looked like.

And in conclusion, my dear, you rock.

Nicole--where do you live? I'm a Nebraska girl.

Cheryl :-)