I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
The Reluctant Wife
Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.
All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters and the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself and what she needs is a husband. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.
Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly doesn’t need his aristocratic family; they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he failed so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?
The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield brings a taste of India and England together in this tale of sadness, unfairness, redemption, and romance.
I was immediately drawn to the story with the avid descriptions of the Indian landscape and culture. I could almost smell the spices and feel the heat.
The two main characters lent an amusing experience with their dialogue and resistance of their attraction to each other.
Fred is a character that grows on you. At first, I really didn’t know what to think of him. He had a somewhat nonchalance to the death of his mistress and housekeeper (an Indian woman) and his barely there acknowledgement of his children. Yes, he grieved but he was so out of his element that he did not really know his own household. However, I did get the sense of honor for his work as a soldier. So, at least there is that. His fairness in judgement and his strategic plans however, does not do him any good. It seemed that corruption was rampant and he was set up to fail by his peers. I seethed over the incompetence of his superiors and felt sad for him.
Do two failures make a right?
Clare, also has the weight of the world (or her world at least) on her shoulders. With a despicable brother and skeletons in her closet, hers is a sad tale as well. It makes her into a person who really doesn’t believe in happily ever after and does NOT want to marry ever again.
But, it really takes two lovely children to bring Clare and Fred together. Their journey takes them from India to England, with more evils to defeat and families to re-unite. I really did like that part of the story. Fred’s family is one that I would love to be a part of. And his reluctance to see them really made me want to slap him upside the head. Oh Fred, you frustrating hero!
Overall, this was a well rounded story that brought Fred back to his roots and away from his failed career. Clare’s stubbornness was actually part of her character and was used as a shield to protect her heart from future hurt. I’m glad that she also grew as a character and it took a family totally different from her own to do that.
This book reads as a standalone. But, there is an interconnection with the other series written by this author.