Series: Roaring Twenties #2
Published by Harlequin on December 27, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Sharon Page sparkles in this poignant and irresistibly entertaining follow-up to her breakout novel, An American Duchess
Lady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England's bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé's legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.
The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia's plans as well as Cal's secrets—proves that passion is ambition's greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.
*I received a free copy of this book from a book promoter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
THE WORTHINGTON WIFE is book two in the Roaring Twenties series. It can also be read as a standalone.
There is a lot to love about this book. I couldn’t put it down. The characters, the romance, and the mystery grabbed my attention thoroughly. I was concerned for their emotional and physical well-being, which says a lot because I am not always so engaged by characters.
In THE WORTHINGTON WIFE, Julia (the daughter of a Duke) feels the pressure to marry and run a household rather than the charitable work that she loves. She wants to be a modern woman; she’s tired of men trying to control her. Also, she is saddened by poverty and suffering of others. She wants to help them.
Cal, an American artist inherits Worthington Park and vows to get revenge on its current occupants because they turned a blind eye when he and his family were starving to death. Julia believes she can convince him to save Worthington Park. She wants to show him that many of the people on the estate are innocent and would suffer if they didn’t have Worthington.
Cal and Julia are both well-developed characters. They have many sides to them and emotional depth. I liked them both very much, even when I thought Cal was being an unreasonable jerk.
Their romance is believable and develops at a natural pace. My only complaint related to the romance is the way the sex scenes were written. I absolutely hate it when authors use “her sex” to refer to lady parts. It’s my biggest pet peeve, mainly because it is used so vaguely to refer to more than one place on a woman’s body, yet authors often have no problem talking about male genitalia. It’s a double standard.
Sharon Page wasn’t as direct about the male body parts, however. She used euphemisms for most everything. It seemed like she wanted to write about sexual intercourse, but wasn’t quite comfortable doing so. Her writing was strong everywhere else in the book, but the sex scenes did not as seem as confident. Also, the passion in the bedroom, while there, made me doubt Cal’s motives for marrying Julia. It made me feel like he just wanted to bed her, over and over again. I think the book would have been better without the detailed sex scenes.
The book is set in 1925, England. Honestly, I don’t know much about this time period. I can’t say if the book is historically accurate or not. However, I did feel like I was in that place and time.
Page tells the story in third person limited point-of-view. For the most part, this worked well because I got to see things from both Julia and Cal’s perspectives. The part that didn’t work was giving minor characters, like the cook, time as the point-of-view character. It seemed unnecessary. However, I didn’t feel those scenes slowed the pace of the book much. They were, thankfully, short scenes.
The book has a lot of subplots. I enjoyed the mystery about what happened to the girls who went missing, the sordid past Cal tried to hide, the lost romance between Alice and David, and the problem of Diana’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
The reader also learns about some of the families living on the estate and the problems they have. I enjoyed their stories as well. One thing that has me confused, though, is Julia’s charitable work. She asked her sister-in-law for money to help women who had survived the war, but the reader never sees Julia visit any other war victims besides Ellen. The Brands, a family that lives on the estate, have some problems somewhat related to the war, but not in the sense that Julia had been talking about. And, I’m sure there were more people elsewhere she could help. Why only help those who lived in Worthington Park?
I liked how many of the subplots were related. Even if they weren’t directly related, they had impact on what was happening in Julia and Cal’s lives. I also liked how it wasn’t clear if Julia was in danger because of her charitable work or because of the person who had stolen the girls years earlier. For me, this added to the suspense and fun of trying to figure out the complete mystery. Unfortunately, I knew early on who the villain was, but it was still fun getting there.
Despite some minor complaints, I did enjoy reading this book. I give THE WORTHINGTON WIFE a B (4 stars). The strongest elements are: the character development, the pace, and the action scenes that were frequent enough to not allow me to forget that Julia was in danger. My rating would have been higher if the book had been pared down a little, excluding some of the sex scenes and unnecessary scenes told from other points of view. Still, I strongly recommend readers check out this book, especially if they like strong and independent female leads who aren’t willing to compromise on what they want out of life. I think many readers will like Julia. It’s no wonder she stole Cal’s heart!
THE WORTHINGTON WIFE is a fast-paced historical romance with multi-dimensional characters and intriguing subplots. I really enjoyed reading it; my primary wish is that it had been made shorter to eliminate some unnecessary scenes. If you like stories about women looking for love, resisting family pressure to get married for status, you should check this out. Even if romance isn’t really your thing, I think you might like it because of the mystery of the missing girls and the danger Julia faces.