When you're feeling down or blue there's nothing quite like comfort food. My comfort food usually involves potatoes, cheese or in ideal conditions - both. Which probably explains my need to drop more than a few pounds. So why when I hit a reading slump did I try to over think it? I suspect the sheer mountain that is my To-Be-Read pile caused my brain to short circuit. All I needed to do was go back to my "reading comfort food" - which in my case is western romances (hey, this should be no shock to anyone reading this unless you're new to the blog).
The Perfect Wife by Mary Burton is ideal comfort food. It tastes pretty good, goes down easy, but in a couple of weeks I won't remember a thing about the meal. Hey, that's OK. I'm not looking for groundbreaking here - I just needed something to get my mojo back. Hopefully this is the start of a long, steady reading streak.
Jenna Winslow has fallen from grace. Well, not her exactly, more like her family. Her younger, prettier and wilder sister apparently had more lovers than a brothel in a boom town and winds up pregnant. Her parents send her off to the country where the plan is to dispose of the child the minute it is born. Then Victoria has to go and die in childbirth, thus a scandal, along with a babe, is born. Jenna takes one look at sweet, innocent Kate and wants to keep her. This leads to her parents abandoning her for greener, less scandal-ridden pastures, and her fiance dumping her. Jenna has nothing. She was raised a lady - a rather bookish one at that - so that means the girl has no skills. So in desperation she answers an ad for a mail order bride. She tells Rowe Mercer she's a widow and has a young daughter. He's kosher with this and the two make plans to get hitched.
Jenna arrives in Colorado completely unprepared to be a rancher's wife, but determined to make it work. Rowe wants to settle down after a sordid bounty hunting past, and wants sons to inherit his land. All is well and good - but what will happen when Rowe's past comes a-callin' and Jenna's lies bubble to the surface?
The conflict here is really light, and Jenna's reasons for keeping the scandal a secret are easily understood until she meets Rowe. I'm not quite sure why she just doesn't tell the man straight away, but in her defense he does move things along rather quickly. It's off the stagecoach, married and heading for home before she even takes a breath.
Burton brings in a little external conflict to punch up this tale, but it's really rather simple and straight-forward. A perfect book to read when you don't want to think too hard. Pull it out to read while the kiddies are napping or you're waiting at the doctor's office. It's pleasant, it flows easily, but it's not the sort of book that will change your life.
That said, after slogging through the last couple of books I've tried, I positively tore through this one. That's saying something so Final Grade = B-.