D.G.’s Rating: 3.5 stars = B
I enjoyed Trophy Wife a lot more than I thought I would.
Neither the title nor the cover inspired much confidence that this would be up my alley but I like heroines who take charge of their lives and work for what they want. And that was Alison to a T. The description makes her sound brash but she’s really very brave. She divorces her husband, leaving the luxury she’s known all her life because she wants to find herself and stop being the kind of woman who depends on her husband for everything.
Thankfully, she’s not completely destitute. Her parents left her a house in a small town and when she moves there, she meets Mr. Helpful, a.k.a. Rob, her next door neighbor. He wants to carry her packages, help her fix the toilet, he wants to help, help, help. Understandably, Alison wants to do everything herself. After depending so much on her first husband, she doesn’t want to start depending on the first man she comes across but Rob is having none of it. At first she finds him annoying but then understands that he’s just being neighborly. Rob, of course, has other plans.
I’m really torn about Rob. When I read a romance, I feel I have to be attracted to the hero and I wasn’t in this case. Maybe it was the two divorces (yikes!) or how insecure he was at times. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a really nice guy, hard worker, loves his parents, good in bed, in good shape but I felt the author didn’t do a good enough job wowing me with him. At the same time, both of his marriages contributed greatly to his baggage and made the conflict more nuanced. His previous wives had used him and humiliated him and he was very self-conscious about what people would think. He definitely didn’t want to be the town’s laughingstock/object of pity again, which contributed to a lot to his issues with Alison.
Alison for her part, recognizes that she has a tendency to defer to strong men even when she disagrees. I got the impression she believed the issues in her marriage were all her husband’s fault but when she starts behaving in the same way with Rob, she realizes that part of the problem is her. If she wants to have a different type of relationship, she has to start changing herself. What a revelation! You rarely see main characters in romance acknowledging that they shoulder some of the blame when a past relationship doesn’t work.
I also liked how everything wasn’t perfectly solved at the end. She had to get a crappy job to make ends meet and still had it by the end of the book. She didn’t end up madly in love with the small town and vowing to live there forever. But she was working towards the future she wanted and Rob was willing to make changes in order to make it happen.
The book has its weaknesses. The writing was stilted and the author mentioned the phrase “trophy wife” like a million times. It also took until around half the book for the story to get going.
Overall though, the characterization was really good and the conflict was well thought out. I would definitely read another book by this author.
Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept and Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book.
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