Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wrong Wife (book) by Eileen Wilks


Synopsis: 

This book starts with the two main characters waking up in bed together.  Cassie is kind of thrilled - once she wakes completely up, she remembers that she and Gideon, the guy she's been in love with since forever, flew to Vegas and got married.  Unfortunately, Gideon in seriously hung over and much less thrilled with the whole situation - he was drunk when he decided it was a good idea to marry Cassie, and he no longer thinks it's a good idea.  He was supposed to marry Melissa, but she dumped him just before they were going to get married.  When he went and got drunk, his buddy Ryan, Cassie's older brother, talked him into marrying Cassie.  And so he did.

Gideon is convinced that Cassie married him for his money.  He knows she's a struggling artist, and he doesn't have any faith in love, so he figures her only possible motive must be money.  Cassie, of course, is hurt and outraged by his assumption.  However, Ryan steps briefly into the picture and he and Gideon work things out so that Gideon and Cassie will at least try marriage for a year.  After a year, they'll just get a divorce.

Except Cassie doesn't just want a year.  As aggravating as Gideon can be, she's wanted him pretty much since she first met him, and she suspects he wants her.  She's just got to convince his icy interior to thaw, so that he can not only lust after her, but love her, too. This thawing is accomplished by things like an enjoyable day at a carnival, conversation, and working as Gideon's secretary's assistant (or something like that - anyway, Cassie ends up filing things and typing up letters, none of which she does very well).  Unfortunately, Gideon's aunt is very much against the marriage.  She fans the embers of Gideon's jealousy into full blown flames, convincing him that his fears that Cassie might have a lover on the side are true.  It doesn't help that Cassie is pregnant and Gideon doesn't remember that they actually did sleep together on their wedding night.

Of course, everything works out ok, even though Gideon has lots of issues to deal with, including an alcoholic father, the death of his beloved younger brother, and an aunt who forced him to live a lie and not grieve for his brother.

Commentary:

I was visiting one of my favorite used bookstores as a reward for getting my oil changed (I reward myself for lots of things), and it was there that I spotted this book.  Eileen Wilks, I thought.  Wait, not that Eileen Wilks, the one with the sexy werewolf characters?!  I lack the kind of technology that allows me to check this stuff no matter where I am (my cell phone is just a phone...and an alarm clock), so there was no way for me to be sure of this, but I grabbed the book anyway.  I didn't really care that the description didn't excite me - if this was the Eileen Wilks, I knew I wanted to read it.  And I was right about this being one of Eileen Wilks' early books.  Also, I was right about this book not exactly being up my alley.  Either Wilks has improved as a writer over the years (this book was published in 1997), or she really found her stride writing about FBI agents, werewolves, demons, and fairies.

The book just felt so...formulaic.  Like I'd read it before, only whatever it was I'd read before had been better.  Cassie is the lively, spunky heroine who loves her hero no matter how dark, wounded, and icy he is.  Gideon is the dark, wounded, and icy hero, so emotionally crippled that the best he can give Cassie at first is his lust.  Gideon's secretary is the obligatory oddball character who eventually approves of Cassie and Gideon's relationship from the sidelines.  There wasn't anything there that really excited me, and I didn't even like any of the characters enough to want to forgive any lack of originality.  Cassie was such a people person that I had a hard time believing she'd continue loving and putting up with Gideon after the way he treated her.  When he accused her of marrying him for his money, I decided I didn't really like him.  She got angry but soon folded, because she can't stay mad at someone she loves for long (I can't find the spot where she thought this, but it's in the book somewhere).

So maybe younger Gideon wasn't such a jerk, and maybe that's why she was able to sustain her feelings of love for him for so long.  She tried dating lots and lots of other people, but nothing ever clicked with anyone, or she just never tried hard enough to get things to click with anyone else.  I couldn't really see how things had ever clicked between her and Gideon, beyond the fact that she could make him lust like no one ever had before, forcing him to hide his lustful feelings as best he could.  Oh, the horror, the Ice King's feelings were forced momentarily out of the box!

Apparently the main thing Gideon worried about was that, if he let his control slip at all in any way, he would become like his alcoholic con man father.  Unfortunately, most of the time when Gideon's control did slip, all he did was act a bit dark and scary.  I would have preferred more scenes like the one at the carnival, when Cassie and Gideon spent time with each other and actually enjoyed each other's company in ways that did not have anything to do with sex.  There just wasn't enough of this kind of thing in this book.

Overall, this was kind of a blah read.  I might keep it, just because it's one of Wilks's earlier works and it feels kind of cool to own it, but there's no part of it that I think I'll ever find myself wanting to reread.

Oh, by the way, for those who are interested in such details, the guy Gideon thinks Cassie might be sleeping with on the side is actually a gay male friend of hers. One good reason I can think of for Wilks making him gay is that, quite frankly, Cassie had a better relationship with him than with Gideon. Had he not been gay, I would probably have rooted for her to end up with him instead of Gideon, even though he didn't show up much and even though I can't remember his name. 

Read-alikes:
  • Front Page Engagement (book) by Laura Wright - Those who'd like another romance in which the hero and heroine decide to marry on a temporary basis might want to try this. In this book, the hero needs to marry someone in order to be allowed to take over his family's company, but he doesn't want or need the marriage to last more than a year.  The heroine agrees to the deal because of the future care and security he'd offer her mother, who has Alzheimer's.  In the end, of course, the two really do fall in love, and the marriage becomes a real one.  Although this book didn't completely thrill me either, I still think it's more enjoyable than Wilks's book.
  • Absolutely, Positively (book) by Jayne Ann Krentz - If you like dark, potentially scary heroes like Gideon, you might want to try this. Unlike Gideon, Harry, the hero of this book, never really goes all scary towards Molly, the heroine. He's just really intense and broody. Molly's the owner of a tea shop and comes from a long line of inventors. She hires Harry to look over grant proposals submitted by various inventors. Things heat up between the two of them when Molly is threatened by someone, probably an inventor whose proposal was rejected.
  • The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (book) by Julia Quinn - Another book with a hero who's gone a serious dark side, although this one is a historical romance, not a contemporary. Like Gideon, Turner, the hero of this book, has a tendency to treat the heroine (Miranda) badly, only to redeem himself in the end. Like Cassie, Miranda has been in love with Turner since she was a child.

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