A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

reliable_wife “Set in a land where long winters drive residents to unthinkable acts, this is the story of a wealthy Wisconsin foundry owner gets more than he bargains for when he orders a mail-order bride. Determined to quickly change from new bride to wealthy widow, his wife is as surprised as the reader to discover the sexual intensity of this quiet man. Many secrets. Many lies. Very sensual.”
— Beth Golay, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
April 2009 Indie Bound Pick

The characters are more than they seem from that snippet. That wealthy lonely widow isn’t a kind old man, even if he is pining for new love. He’s not cruel to his new bride but that didn’t keep him from flying into a rage after his first wife left him. Now he’s filled with guilt and a longing to make the past right – but that longing is so steeped in frustration and doom it becomes very narrow minded in focus.

He chooses the most simple plain looking girl to take as his wife only to discover the moment she steps off the train that she lied. She’s strikingly beautiful — instead of the plain stern woman in the picture she sent him — and though she’s pretending to be the simple daughter of missionaries it’s not a story she’s good at seeling. She’s not a reliable wife – except for the fact that she is an expert at changing herself to match whatever someone else wants her to be so she is trying to be the kind of wife she thinks the widower wants her to be.

For a book that doesn’t seem to have a lot of action, a lot seems to happen. It’s completely absorbing, even if it wasn’t completely satisfying. It’s well writen and a compulsive (and violent and dark) read.

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