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Not Quite a Wife (Lost Lords) by Mary Jo…
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Not Quite a Wife (Lost Lords)

by Mary Jo Putney

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Mary Jo Putney is one of the best known, long-time, historical romance writers, so when I got the opportunity to read an advanced copy of her latest, NOT QUITE A WIFE, I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, with all the build-up, this book was not as captivating as I had hoped. In fact, the plot seemed to drag, particularly at the beginning, and I just couldn't see eye to eye with the heroine whose hang-up with the hero seemed naive and inflexible. The hero, on the other hand, has the patience of a saint and should be commended for his steadfast determination to continue pursuing the heroine, given her repeated rejections. Therefore, if second chance love stories are your thing, and you love it when a hero has his work cut out for him, then NOT QUITE A WIFE may just be the next book you are looking for.

Laurel Herbert was just an innocent young country girl when she first met Lord James Kirkland, a schoolmate of her brothers. In a whirlwind romance, they believed that they had fallen in love at first sight and married immediately. A few days after returning from their honeymoon, however, reality hit and Laurel's observance of Kirkland committing a violent act of questionable morality causes her to leave him.

Although Kirkland is a spy and knows her whereabouts, he never stops her from leaving or attempts to force her back home. For 10 years, Laurel devotes herself to her charitable work and her brother's clinic. Then one day she realizes that her next patient is none other than her estranged husband. A delusional fever and a fall lead to physical intimacy, and the next thing you know Laurel is pregnant.

Left with no other choice, she tells Kirkland about the baby, and, at his insistence, agrees to at least appear to be reconciling for the sake of the baby. During this period of feigned reconciliation, can Kirkland convince Laurel to give their marriage a real chance? Moreover, when danger looms, can Kirkland keep Laurel safe?

It is easy to take the moral high ground when you are young and naive, and that is exactly what happens to Laurel. However, their extremely long estrangement is equally Kirkland's fault for not pursuing Laurel due to his own guilt and wrestling with his own moral demons for the actions he has taken. As a result, NOT QUITE A WIFE is a love story with a secondary ethical subtext. Additionally, there is also a secondary action suspense plot surrounding a former slave that Laurel helps save from a man who wants to return her to slavery, and the ramifications of that act.

All in all, the writing is good and well detailed, but the plot unfortunately just didn't wow me. It may just be that second chance love stories are not my favorite trope, especially under these circumstances. While NOT QUITE A WIFE was just not quite a hit for me, I have heard such good things about Mary Jo Putney's earlier works that I still plan to explore more of her backlist.

Review originally published for The Romance Reviews. ( )
  B.J.O. | Sep 29, 2014 |
I loved the way this book started out, as it reminded me of Silk & Shadows (my absolute fave), with the two characters reuniting after many years apart. I almost thought the subplot device of her maid could have been edited down, and got in the way at the end. I liked the scenes of the characters playing piano - especially the duets - and other musical references. The writing is superb and a complex characters are a delight. ( )
  astasin | Sep 9, 2014 |
This was only my second book by Mary Jones Putney and I'm sure I'll read more. I guess I'll always have a problem with reading books in a series out of order, which I have done once again with this one. It's the sixth book in the series, but I've only read this one, obviously, and the one before it so I'm a little behind in the complicated relationships that go on in this series. It seems as if everyone is related somehow. This book we have James, Lord Kirkland and his estranged wife, Laurel. They've been apart for over ten years and an unforeseen consequence has brought them back together. They try to reconcile and learn to be a married couple again. I wasn't much interested in their problems, but found myself liking the secondary romance a little more. It was between a lady's maid and the valet. All the action took place in the last couple chapters and I think if there would've been more action I would've liked it better. I am planning on reading more by Ms. Putney and especially the beginning of this series.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. ( )
  amdrane2 | Aug 30, 2014 |
Oops! I guess it only takes once!

Interesting addition to the Lost Lords series. This time the story centres on Lord Kirkland and the wife (Laurel) that he has been estranged from for over ten years.
The others of the group have no idea that James Kirkland is married to the sister of another of Miss Agnes' boys.
So ten years on, Laurel unknowingly rescues her husband then proceeds to have conjugal relations with him whilst he's off his head with a fever. Upon his recovery she sends him on his way. He's of the opinion he's been hallucinating about the episode. You don't have to be a soothsayer to understand that pregnancy is about to lead them back to each other.
What follows is a story of love lost, lives maturing and changing and love found, albeit with a stretch of the imagination. I did lose all patience with Laurel with respect to her reaction to James' killing of an assassin and attacker. Distressed though she was just how did she expect him to handle the assassin? I don't think there was any time for discussion or reasoning! Their relationship is of course not without a few problems along the way. Well, actually it's quite fraught. Laurel's brother Daniel is interesting. The subject of slavery, women's shelters and child birth are all present giving a spotlight on issues of the times.
An ok read, even if a tad flat.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Aug 30, 2014 |
Another enjoyable romance in Putney's Lost Lords series.

Laurel Herbert and James Kirkland were very young when they met, fell in love, and quickly married. After a year-long honeymoon, their marriage fell apart when they returned to London. Ten years later, Laurel has settled into a satisfying life in Bristol assisting her brother in his medical clinic and overseeing a shelter for battered women. When Kirkland is brought to the clinic having been badly beaten, she is reluctant to renew their marriage, but events conspire to make it necessary. But can they overcome their differences, and some very real dangers, to build a true marriage?

An interesting portrait of two damaged people working to find common ground, along with some social commentary. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Jul 17, 2014 |
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To PandaMax

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James, Lord Kirkland, owned a shipping fleet and half a fashionable London gaming house, and was a darkly effective spymaster in the shadow war between Britain and Napoleon's France.
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Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. He is seldom self-indulgent... except when it comes to the gentle, indomitable beauty who was once his wife.

Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl—until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence before her very eyes. That night she left her husband, and he let her go without a word of protest.

Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love....
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James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl, until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence. That night she left the husband who is far more than the fashionable lord he seems, and he let her go without a word of protest. Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love.… (more)

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