by Linda Howard

July 1998
ISBN: 1-55166-479-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

Why would a nice looking, intelligent New York City girl answer a mail-order bride ad from an Omaha newspaper? Beats me, but it's by Linda Howard so how can it go wrong?!

Madelyn Patterson is getting on with her life. Employed by her stepbrother in a successful company as a (don't know what exactly and don't really care)… well, she has an office and gets to indulge in her hobby of reading out of town newspapers. She is not particularly fond of Manhattan even though she's lived there since she was 10 (she's now 28), and remembers longingly of her summers spent in Virginia at her Grandma's farm. Her employment with her stepbrother's business has always been temporary, something to do while she gets over the grief of losing her mother. After two years, she's finally ready to resume her life… but what to do? An ad for a wife catches her eye and before she can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, she's mailed out a reply sans picture.

Reese Duncan needs a wife. A real honest to goodness wife who is willing to work at the ranch, have sex every night and bear his babies. It doesn't have to be incredible mind-blowing sex but just someone to… well, have sex with when it suits him. But a previous marriage has destroyed his image of a perfect relationship, not to mention his financial status. His cheating ex-wife took him to the cleaners, via his ranch that had been in his family for generations, rendering him financially unstable. He didn't quite lose the ranch, but he had to settle a hefty amount of sum to break the operation of his beloved legacy. He doesn't know quite how another wife would solve his current financial problems; it really doesn't, but it would solve other personal problems, such as his need for companionship and his desire to build a family.

In true Linda Howard style, these two don't waste anytime - Maddie is pole axed on the first meeting; she's paralyzed to the spot as soon as she sees him (is there anyone like that in real life?!) and feels an incredible, staggering wave of lust which she's never felt before. Lucky for her, Reese feels the same way and although they don't make love until later on (whyyy?!), the sexual tension burns the pages of the book they were written on. When they finally do the horizontal however… needless to say, my fingers were treated for burns! Pure Linda Howard.

So the plot isn't exactly believable, but it progresses very well from the moment Reese decides that she will suit as his wife (actually, he didn't have much choice!). It's easy to empathize with Maddie's frustration over Reese's inability to trust her after all she's done as his wife - he surely deserved a bonk in the head with a pin roller! Although it was objectionable for Reese to color Maddie with the same tainted brush as his ex-wife (they were both city girls after all!), the fact that it made ME, the reader, want to personally go in between the pages and curse him deaf and blind, is a testament to Ms. Howard's talent. As far as stories go, it isn't very good - but I give the storyteller 4 stars for her very best effort to entertain this reader!

Reviewed in November 2001 by Veronica.

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