Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book Review: A Reliable Wife

This book... confuses me.  I wish I could take a picture of the back cover so you could see the description and reviews that made me super eager to buy this book.  "Thrilling," "suspenseful," "intoxicating," etc, etc, etc.

Seriously?  No.  (And I'm not alone.  The customer reviews at are all over the map.  Some love it and some, like me, thought it was pretty bad.)

The description is what sucked me in.  Ralph Truitt is a lonely man who places an add for "a reliable wife."  The woman who responds, unbeknown to him, plans on killing him and taking his money after they wed.

I'm a sucker for shit like that, what can I say?  And in the hands of one of my favorite romance novelists, I think it could have been a damn good story.

But this was not.  The writing, my God, the writing.  It is praised and praised and praised, but I thought it was not very good.  It just felt forced, like the author was trying really hard.  A lot of the negative customer reviews at point out that it is repetitive, and YES, it is!  And really, this book is ALL about sex.

Ralph is simultaneously obsessed with sex and celibate for twenty years.  Maybe that's not so contradictory, but the way Goolrick writes it, it seems that way.  We hear all about what a libertine Ralph was as a young man.  But we also hear all about how he is convinced that his lust is evil because he uber-religious, crazy mother told him so as a child.  Now that I thought made no sense.  There's no indication that Ralph believes anything else his mother ever told him, or anything else about religion, yet for some reason he's had this skewed view of sex his whole life.  But even though he thinks it's evil and will only hurt people, I wasn't sure how that supposedly affected him.  He's promiscuous as a young man, then goes completely celibate after losing his wife.  Then when Catherine, his new wife, arrives he is again obsessed with sex.  I don't know, it just all felt very disorganized and contradictory to me.

Catherine was certainly more likable, but she was utterly predictable.  As was the plot.  There were no shocking twists and turns, despite what the reviews say.  There were a few things held back from the reader, but they didn't blow my mind when they were revealed.   

Let me just give you an example of what I'm talking about as far as the sexual obsession and not-so-good writing goes:

He wanted to slice her open and lie inside the warm blood of her body.

Jesus.  What the fuck is that?  That shit is straight out of Star Wars.

In the end, I guess I just can't enjoy a book that's essentially about the constant sexual thoughts of a fifty-some year old man.  Ick.  This book is not very original and not well-written.  I'm really, really pissed that I bought this one instead of Roses.


Amy said...

Thanks for the honest review! I've heard both love and hate opinions of this one. Looks like I'll just have to read it myself, but I think I'll be able to hold off until I can get it at the library.

Lindsey Lou said...

Yeah, I'm not going to even attempt to convince anyone that my view is right. I think the hype was part of the problem. If I had just picked this book up without knowing anything about it, I might think it was okay. But after reading such rave reviews, I was REALLY disappointed.

Bookie said...

I really want to read this one despite the mixed reviews I get. That quote at the end reminded me of this crazy killer in Dexter this past season. He would do something like that. Great review!