His Substitute Wife (Stand-In Brides #1) by Dorothy Clark

his-substitute-wife-stand-in-brides-1-by-dorothy-clark

A Convenient Marriage

Blake Latherop needs a wife in order to keep his business, and his betrothed has apparently eloped with another man. So when his fiancée’s sister, Audrey Prescott, steps off the train in Whisper Creek offering to be his bride, he’s in no position to refuse. But it’s hardly the marriage he had in mind.

Audrey knows she shouldn’t have answered Blake’s letters in her sister’s name…but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him of his fiancée’s betrayal. Now the only way to fix things is through a temporary marriage. But as she comes to love her new life in the West, Audrey dreads the day Blake finds another solution to their situation. Because what started as a marriage of convenience has become so much more for her…

His Substitute Wife (Stand-In Brides #1) by Dorothy Clark

There really is a lot of good here. It might be the best-researched book I’ve read from this line. I sometimes have a problem with these Love Inspired Historical books because they are set in such small, isolated locations and because of that sometimes they drag – but this one never did.

However… this book reads like it was written in the 1950s! The misogyny. The dozens of nasty references to fair-haired women (in fact, the moment the sister is introduced, her blonde hair is used as a shortcut to tell us she is a nasty, scheming, slut). The sister who does not have a SINGLE redeeming quality – she is just horrid from start to finish, and in every way. However, the hero keeps kissing the sister even after he has been married to the heroine for ages, because the sister’s “feminine wiles” keep trapping him.

I do think this was a generational thing, and while it’s not fair to say all books in the past were more misogynistic and stereotyped more than they are now, the slutty other woman should be a relic of the past, and I found it offensive. For a character who didn’t appear until the end of the book, the sister sure was discussed and insulted a lot.

I feel like there are two books here: the fantastic piece of historical fiction, and the outdated one with the judgemental, sexist stereotyping. I was VERY confused how the heroine was just going to leave her marriage and let her sister take over. Divorce had massive stigma attached to it a century after this book is set; it was unrealistic to think hero and heroine could end their marriage with no issues or social repercussions.

It was an odd thing, as the rest of the research was so good, and the author added lots of little touches about everyday life that really brought the setting to life.

One other thing that bothered me was how many times “blinked” was used as a character reaction. It started making ME want to blink (which was driving me nuts).

So… When the characters aren’t going on about the evil sister, this is a wonderfully-researched and interesting book. I wish there’d been more of that and less of the other!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

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