Review: The Ideal Wife

The Ideal Wife
The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marry in Haste, Repent in Leisure

“If you could set before me the plainest, dullest, most ordinary female in London, or in England, for that matter, I would make her an offer without further ado.”

FINAL DECISION: With a trippy premise (proposing marriage on minutes acquaintance), this book does so many things right. The hero is so wonderful. The heroine, unfortunately, drove me crazy with her secrets. Overall, I thought it was well written but not among Balogh’s best.

THE STORY: Miss Abigail Gardiner is a survivor. After being dismissed from her position as a lady’s companion she decides to approach a remote “cousin” who is a also a complete stranger to ask for help in finding a new position. Miles Ripley, Earl of Severan refuses to give her a reference but instead proposes that the two marry. Miles wants to wrest control of his life from his interfering female relatives who have already chosen his bride despite his wishes. He decides that Abby who appears quiet, plain and shy will be the perfect wife to marry, give him an heir and then not interfere with his life. Abby, however, has secrets that threaten to tear their marriage apart in ruin and scandal.

OPINION: What I loved best about this book is how Miles accepts and falls in love with Abby even though he is completely mistaken about her personality when he proposes to her. Frankly, he is almost a saint because Abby lies to him, keeps secrets and risks ruin and scandal again and again. He treats her with respect and generosity at every turn.

Abby on the other hand is a mixed bag for me. She is caring and protective of others. She also makes stupid decisions, keeps secrets far too long and threatens her own marriage. By the time, Abby’s last secret is revealed, I could only roll my eyes at her behavior.

One of the best part of Balogh’s novels is the sense of realism that she infuses in her books. Here, there is no instant attraction and torrid love scenes. The sex life of the characters has a progression and they have a more satisfying sex life as they open up to one another.

There is also overlap in the story here and the next book’s romance (Miles’ friend is the hero in the next book).

WORTH MENTIONING: The book was originally published in the early 1990s.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE IDEAL WIFE is the first book in the Stapleton-Downes series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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