4 stars and a half

Category Romance Review: Temporary Wife by Roberta Leigh

Temporary Wife, Roberta Leigh, Harlequin, 1974, Doug Stivers cover art
Harlequin Presents #109

Emily [Lamb] might be a lamb by name, but she was certainly not one by nature. A wolf cub was nearer the mark.

TEMPORARY WIFE

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Roberta Leigh’s Temporary Wife features a great heroine for a great book.

Luke Adams has everything: good looks, a plum job at an investment firm, and his boss/best friend’s wife as his mistress. Unfortunately, his boss’s nephew has caught wind of the affair and threatens to out the pair.

Luke’s mistress, Gina, wants to have her cake and eat it. Sure she’s married to an old man, but he’s rich, and in the meantime, she’s got Luke as her lover. Luke desperately wants to be open about the affair, but she keeps claiming her husband’s health is too weak to stand such a shock. So Gina comes up with the brilliant idea of arranging a marriage of inconvenience for her Luke–who truly does love her–with an old friend from school: plain, mousy Emily Lamb.

Emily is a magnificent heroine. One of the best I’ve read in a Harlequin Presents, no matter what decade. She’s confident in who she is and accepting of the world as it is. She knows her marriage is one of convenience and understands why. Gina dismisses Emily as her “pet lamb”, but Luke thinks: “Emily might be a lamb by name, but she was certainly not one by nature. A wolf cub was nearer the mark.”

Watching how Luke fell in love with her was wonderful. Normally, in contemporary romances, I can’t stand adulterous heroes, but here, I understood Luke was genuinely in love with the wrong woman. Fortunately, Emily comes along to show him who the right woman is. With her, love isn’t a sordid thrill just to gets one’s kicks, it’s a meaningful relationship of shared joys and experiences with a partner who doesn’t deify him, but accepts him, flaws and all.

Very deep themes for a genre that receives much ill-deserved derision.

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