ARC Review: The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman

Format: E-bookthereplacementwife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impulse Australia
Hero: Luke
Heroine: Luisa
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: September 1, 2015
Started On: August 25, 2015
Finished On: August 26, 2015

I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

Rowena Wiseman’s The Replacement Wife, though it might come off as a humorous chic lit sort of story by its description is hardly that. I guess this is my first Contemporary Fiction novel too, and though there is a humorous tinge to the layout of the story, it delves with an issue that few authors will write so candidly about. Adultery. Straying from your partner. Why people begin to look for a way out when a long term relationship or marriage turns dull and passionless.

Luisa and Luke have been married for almost 12 years. With their son Max in tow, Luisa and Luke’s life is a typical page out of how long term relationships can go wrong, without one even realizing that its happening. Luisa receives the wake up call when she meets Jarvis, one of her long ago crushes. One thing leads to another and before long, Luisa and Jarvis have professed their love for each other.

Though Luisa doesn’t allow the physical aspect of hers and Jarvis’ relationship to proceed, emotionally, she cheats on Luke in every foreseeable manner. And then Luisa comes up with the perfect plan. Find her husband a woman he would fall in love with and then she would finally be able to move on with Jarvis, with zero guilt.

After many a hilarious antic by Luisa, when her plan finally kicks off, the consequences of her actions certainly brings forth the kind of emotions she thought she would no longer feel towards her husband. With a bittersweet ending to it, The Replacement Wife definitely is not for the judgmental, the ones who think that the perfect mates are angels sent from heaven.

I applaud Rowena Wiseman for putting this story out there. It must not have been easy to write, because even though this book is highly readable, the material in it is one that pricks and pokes at you, makes you think along lines that you would never want to, unless you are someone who is willing to push the boundaries, all the time. Looking at some of the reviews already up on Goodreads, some readers admit that this book actually made them uncomfortable. So no surprises that this book has received low ratings from them.

Like I said, this book is not for everyone. Luisa and Luke’s relationship or the lack of one, when it comes to light, is sort of heartbreaking. Theirs is a passionless existence. The mundaneness of life had broken their relationship well and good. Luisa’s emotional and sexual needs remain unseen to. Luke remains adamant that he is a good husband, just that Luisa wants it all – things that he has no inclination now to give.

I couldn’t bring myself to hate Luisa for what she did. I understood her. I felt for her. I actually felt bad for her because a passionless relationship is hard for someone who wants more. Who yearns for that spark in their lives. For Luke, it is just the opposite. He is content with what he has with Luisa and Max. This is a question I’ve asked on occasion. If you have never truly tasted the volatility and beauty of passion, how do you judge someone who has, for wanting that?

Luisa believes that Jarvis is that man for her. The man who would sweep her off her feet, fulfill her physical and emotional needs. It was painful to see her ask from Luke, to see her try and provoke him into feeling something. Anything. And when Luisa’s plan works and gives that jolt to Luke, their marriage becomes infused with the energy that had been missing from it for so long, and that is when Luisa comes to the realization that she had lost it all.

Perhaps in the end, Luisa got what she deserved. While Luke got the better end of the deal if you ask me, I liked the story for its ability to make me think. Think hard. About life choices, about how much work it is to actually keep any relationship, let alone a marriage alive, especially after kids enter the picture.

Luke wasn’t a bad husband per se. But the fact that he couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to reach out to his wife, to realize just how bad things were in their relationship, that signals just how dead he was inside as well. I don’t think many would appreciate the candid honesty of Rowena’s voice in this novel. I loved it. It was definitely refreshing to see the side of ‘relationships’ that most authors would definitely not want to write about.

No one likes reading about adultery, unless it comes with a ton of forbidden fruit material with it. But I believe Rowena Wiseman’s take on the issue is insightful, to say the least. If you are squeamish about stories that deal with cheating, this is definitely not for you. But if you’d like to read something that would make you think and view the world just a tad more realistically, give The Replacement Wife a try. It just might teach you a thing or two.

Final Verdict: Honest & at times brutal in its depiction, digs deep into why we stray when we stray.

Favorite Quotes

I sat on the single chair and watched him, wondering how we had drifted so far from each other. He was like a business partner living in my house. He liked us to make all of the decisions about Max together; it was parenting by committee. I couldn’t buy a new winter quilt for Max without getting Luke’s sign-off on the warmth rating and choice of material first. He liked input into the choice of washing detergent, the ply of the toilet paper, the home-cooked meals for the week. We talked about all of these things, but we no longer talked about ourselves: about our hopes, our dreams, our passions, our fears. We had nothing left between us as people. We were just decision-makers.

I thought about Ben, who’d had an affair on Trish two years ago, and how much I’d despised him, how I’d thought Ben was such a low-life bastard. But now I felt like maybe I understood Ben’s perspective. I realised that people don’t make decisions to have an affair lightly; it happens with a lot of angst and soul-searching. Perhaps I should have applauded Ben’s bravery, his sense of adventure and inability to settle for an unsatisfying long-term relationship. So many people settle for misery; you hear of those couples that break up after thirty years of an unhappy marriage, after the kids move out of home. Those are the people who deserve our damnation, not the ones who are brave enough to make a great escape before their breasts go as flat as roadkill.

He said he’d wait for me; I could take my time. He said he knew that we were born to be together, that it would happen when the time was right, and if it wasn’t right yet he would wait.
Sometimes he didn’t say much at all, he simply sent me a link to a song, a quote from a book he was reading, an image of a work he was sketching. I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

I was an editor, in love with words, and his words had been the most precious I had ever read. They had transcended reality, dug a hole in my head, and planted seeds of what my life could be like with someone who could write such words. But could that someone ever have lived those words fully with me? Probably not.
I ran my fingers over those scattered pieces of gold tinsel on the ground. They had dropped off, become detached, lost their shine, gotten splattered by mud. Those fallen pieces of tinsel were me. I rescued two strands and put them in my handbag.

Last week I saw a new sculpture of Jarvis’s in the Venice Biennale on artnews.com. It was a red tinsel zombie, smaller than usual. In front of the zombie were large silver letters, Emily Floyd-style, saying More than kisses, letters mingle souls. My heart tumbled in dirty laundry. Perhaps I had meant something to him after all? Maybe he did remember everything, too? Maybe this was his way of reaching out to me? But then I saw a small 3D word to the side of the work, a reference. I zoomed in to see what it said. Instead of John Donne, it was the word Done. It was his last goodbye to me. And silver scissors snipped me free from the golden tinsel I’d been hanging onto for years.

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Review: The Promise of Happiness by Betty Neels

Format: E-book
Read with: Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Jazmin
Hero: Baron Raukema van den Eck
Heroine: Rebecca Saunders
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication:  December 1979
Started On: August 4, 2010
Finished On: August 4, 2010

Its been ages since I last read a novel by Betty Neels. Known for stories that bring a soothing warmth to the reader, I also read a couple of her books in the late 90’s when I first started my foray into romance reading. The one thing that I always found lacking in her books even then was the fact there is little or no sensuality at all to her books, but rather a descriptive narration of the heroine’s life with the hero coming in now and then and at the very end, the hero professes his love and its a happily ever after for the happy couple.

This story is no different from the above when Rebecca encounters Baron on her journey to escape her stepmother and stepbrother from a life of servitude they had set upon her. Accompanying her are her beloved pets Bertie and Pooch, who look as bedraggled as she is when Baron offers them a lift into town. On the journey towards the hotel Baron was residing at, he learns that Rebecca is actually a trained nurse, though she doesn’t have any references to back her claim. And though Baron is not one to feel for people, he finds himself surprised at the pity that he feels for the mousy looking little thing who has had it so bad till now.

It is by chance that Rebecca encounters the Baroness, who has recently had a knee surgery done in disagreement with her nurse and it is Rebecca who helps her and puts to right what has been causing her pain. Thus Rebecca finds herself offered the job of being the Baroness’s nurse during a trip she is to make to see her sister and then later onto Holland where Baron promises that he would help her find a job and settle her down.

Looking after the needs of the Baroness seems like a lifesaver to someone such as Rebecca who had had life so hard for her after the death of her beloved father. Though Baron at first refuses to see any beauty in the nondescript little woman who takes such good care of his mother so efficiently, little by little he comes to appreciate what Rebecca stands for and who she is.

Meanwhile Rebecca continues to be in agony over the fact that she has fallen head over heels in love with someone who had professed that he was not attracted to thin mice and the fact that the beautiful Nina seemed to occupy much of Baron’s time.

In the end, its all a bit sudden when Baron professes his desire to marry her and give her everything her heart desires. I feel the story would have been better if Rebecca had left as she planned and Baron had had to come after her, just to give him a taste of his arrogance I suppose?

Anyhow it was good reading something that didn’t cause me so many emotional upheavals. So until my next review!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

[xrr rating=2.5/5]

Caliber Seal: FAIR READ!

Review: A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Hero: Roan Sullivan
Heroine: Claire Maloney
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: May 4, 1998
Started On: June 8, 2010
Finished On: June 11, 2010

Bearing a strong resemblance to the storyline of Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred, this is a story that captures the essence of the ties of a loving family, how tragic mistakes can unravel even the most close knit of families and how love triumphs over in the end.

The first half of the book focuses on the childhood of Roan Sullivan, the boy from the wrong side of the town with the drunk whoring father and Claire Maloney, the girl who has got everything. Claire comes from a large family, the richest in town. Though Claire and Roan couldn’t be more further apart from one another in social standing, Claire takes an uncanny liking towards the dirty boy with the grey eyes who stands steadfast through all the ribbing and torture dished out by his father as well as other boys in the town.

The author cleverly spins the tale as told by Claire, as to how she falls in love with Roan at the tender age of 10 or so, a love that captures the reader’s heart right from the very beginning. Roan doesn’t trust anyone apart from Claire and one mishap after another leads to Roan living with the Maloneys.

However, a tragic incident involving Roan’s father and Claire which ultimately ends up in Roan killing his father, makes Claire’s parents decide to send Roan off to a church home for a month and Roan disappears thus destroying an essential part of Claire which strains the ties she has with her family.

Claire never stops searching for Roan all throughout the twenty years that they spend apart. Meanwhile Roan too has been keeping tabs on Claire and the Maloneys and a tragic accident involving Claire finally propels him to return to Claire while she recuperates at home.

Now a rich and successful man, Roan has never forgotten how quickly hope can be extinguished by those for whom you care for, and though he is not bitter about the Maloney’s decision to send him away, Roan has turned into a man who has locked away his emotions, except for those that he feels towards Claire.

With secrets of his own to keep, Roan and Claire start off 20 years later to revel in the love they have had for one another, a love that can only last once the previous hurts have been healed. An engrossing tale, this is one story even non-romance readers ought to try, because this is definitely a book of the can’t-put-down variety.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!