Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Substitute Wife
Cat Lang is not happy to be the bearer of bad news and she does not want to have to tell Luke Quintain that his fiance, her spoiled and beautiful semi-step-sister, Devon, has left him to go marry her high school sweetheart on a diary farm in Minnesota. Devon and Luke had had an agreement to marry because his very wealthy grandfather, Nick, had threatened to sell off the family winery if Luke did not marry by his 36th birthday so even though it wasn't just going to be a marriage in name only, he had no deeper feelings for her. Knowing the circumstances of the marriage, Cat offers herself up in Devon's stead and does not mention that she has actually been in love with Luke since Devon first brought him home. Luke is skeptical, especially because of the 15 year age difference between them, but he admits he is attracted to her and since he needs a wife and she presents it so rationally, he agrees. The two enter into a legal agreement, with the help of his best friend Keith, and he is stunned when she thinks the amount of money promised to her is too much and he wonders why she is agreeing to the marriage.
Cat has trouble fitting into Luke's high-class life and does not want to become one of "those women" who mooch off their husband so she continues to garden and drive her old car around, making Luke even more confused. The two have no trouble getting along in the bedroom and find that they even mesh well in other aspects of their lives and get along, have the same interests, and Cat hopes that Luke's feelings for her will grow and that their marriage will become real and he will forget that he plans to divorce her after a year. Cat's best friend Jack is a famous chef and with their marriage both Keith and Jack find themselves eager for new friends and Keith finds himself falling in love with Jack. Everything changes when Cat finds out that she is pregnant and Luke is suddenly terrified that his simple marriage contract is not so simple and Cat means so much more to him than he planned for. His newfound feelings scare Luke and he makes a stupid mistake that could cost him Cat and he will do anything to prove that he loves her and is worthy of the love she feels for him.
Cat is young and a little too quirky for my tastes, but a lot of that could admittedly be explained away by her age. In historicals it dos not bother me so much, but a 20 year-old contemporary heroine is a little too much for me to really get into, especially a 20 year old who has so much growing up to do. It really made me feel like she and Luke were in completely different places in their lives and that made it difficult for me to really understand how they could fall in love with each other and I did not see them as equals. While it is understandable for a 20 year old to not have her life figured out, I guess I'm judgmental and just don't think that someone who doesn't really even know what they want out of life can fall in love and make such life altering decisions. Cat's upbringing was unconventional and I felt like it might have made her more susceptible to falling for a father figure like Luke, which struck me as weird. Luke was a wealthy, rather spoiled, man and my opinion of him did not really change as the book went on.
Their relationship is very physical and that is pretty much the only area of their life together that doesn't have any hiccups. There is quite a bit of sex and it is pretty hot but nothing outrageous and it could definitely have been better, especially since they were so attracted to each other. Luke is so determined to keep distance between them that all of their happy moments are clouded with his fear that they are becoming to close. I imagine we're supposed to see how while he is the more mature age-wise, she is more mature overall because she accepts their relationship, and that this is what makes them more equal than their ages would suggest, but I do not get it. The end is amazingly awful with Luke doing something so stupid for such a stupid reason and I really wanted him to grovel and was disappointed at how easy Cat let him off. My favorite part of the book was the unexpected and romantic and just absolutely amazing romance between Keith, who has always thought he was straight, and Jack and while I understand why it was so short, I kind of wanted a little bit more from it.
Rating: A fun little book with two characters who I just did not think were compatible and a hero who was just too stupid in his refusal to admit he loved her.